This week I’ve got a seemingly easy bass line for you. A basic comp pattern with a few ghost notes. BUT… breaking it down a little we can see some hidden technical hurdles.

First of all there are those pesky ghost notes to contend with and secondly, the feel of the line is a result of the space in the line, not the notes. So, we’re going to look at how practicing your note control can be key to creating momentum in your bass lines!

The Not-So-Simple Simple Bass Line

Today we have a riff that looks easy, but pick it apart and hone in on different techniques and it can be a great exercise to develop your note control and feel.

This groove is played in the home position on the neck, which is around the 3rd fret to the 7th. We will be playing the groove with our hand placed loosely over the strings so we can add ghost notes.

Controlling Note Duration

The cut-off point of a note controls the amount of space in the groove, which ultimately governs the feel of the song. Try playing the groove staccato (short notes) and again legato (long notes). Listen to how the note length affects the feel – short notes give a funkier, slightly more percussive sound, while long notes sound fuller and add warmth.

Look at the notation again and, ignoring the ghost notes, play the groove whilst paying attention to the rests.

Here are the subdivisions of the groove with the start of each note bracketed and the length represented in red. Ghost notes are shown in blue.

(1) e + a 2 e +a (3) e (+) a 4 e + a

Perfecting Ghost Notes

To get the ghosts notes tight, we first need to get rid of them! Understanding and feeling the basic groove is essential and stripping it back allows us to see the ghost notes as ‘extras’ so we can give them our full attention.

Because we are in the home position, we can rest our fingers loosely across the strings to get the muted sound we need for ghost notes.

As an exercise, try playing two muted notes before a C on the first beat of every bar. The first ghost note would start on the upbeat of 4.

(1) e + a 2 e +a 3 e + a 4 e + a

Drum Backing Track:

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