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Lick 1 Octaves
Octaves are a great way to spice up any bass line. It might sound simple, but they are great in a moment of crisis. Octaves are a great way to add extra texture and highlight certain notes and rhythms in your bass guitar playing. If you’re mid-song and on stage with no hope left, then octaves are your new best friend! They are simple to execute and the shape on the fretboard is very straight forward to remember. Every bass player should know these!

Lick 2 Fifths 

Fifths are a great way to outline the harmony of a song, while keeping the bass guitar part subtle. It might sound predictable, but there are literally thousands of bass guitar lines that use the ‘Root’ and ‘Fifth’ pattern. With some minor tweaking, the fifth lick can be used to fit any style of music and will make you sound like an educated bass player in any band.

Lick 3 Arpeggios

Our role as a bass guitar player is to pin the harmony to the drummer, or general ‘groove’ of the song. Arpeggios are the most common way to stick to the harmony of any song or situation. This prevents you going super flashy or showing off all those ‘chops’ (chops is a fancy word for technique or skills) in the wrong places! Arpeggios can sound bland if you don’t mix up the rhythm or the direction, e.g. ascending or descending, but it’s personal taste and you’ll soon learn when you’re using this lick too often. Each song and situation is different, but it’s a great tool to add to your arsenal and can make your bass lines sound that little bit more epic! Make sure to use the correct arpeggios, as we have major and minor shapes in this online video bass guitar lesson.

Lick 4 Pentatonics 

Pentatonic scales are the holy grail of guitarists and bass players everywhere. Most guitarists will solo with the pentatonic scale for hours and hours. For us bass players, we can steal these scales and patterns to add flair and ear catching moments to our playing. If you use them sparingly, you can add a ‘cheeky’ pentatonic line, (use the shapes taught in this lesson and mix up the order of the notes) to grab people’s attention before going back into ‘groove’ mode. Pentatonic scales can be used in your bass line to give more variety or they can be used as fills to pad out the standard bass line being played. Make sure to use the correct pentatonic, as we have major and minor shapes in this video lesson.

Lick 5 Chromatics 

Chromatics can be confusing at first, but they are super simple if you follow these two guidelines which I have put together for you:

You need to know the root note of the next chord or pattern. If you’re following the guitarist or playing a riff together with other musicians, then they will lead you into that pattern. 

Just before you are due to play said root note, you approach it by playing two frets lower on the same string, e.g. if you’re aiming for 5 then you’d need to play 3 and 4 landing on the 5 perfectly, with the rest of the band or song. 

Chromatics are the icing on top of the cake. The groove is the cake and every cake needs icing right? It is the extra special something that can make your bass lines stand out. You can mix up the rhythm and experiment until you find your own personal favourites, but there’s plenty of funk, soul, jazz, rock and pop bass lines out there which include chromatics.
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