Getting into the groove can be one of the most simple challenges to understand, but one of the most difficult to understand. It is essential your Bass Guitar locks in with the rest of the band. Creating that tight, reliable and solid groove is what it is all about. Our very own Bass Guitar expert, Steven Swift, has written some really helpful bass tips to help you get the best out of your groove.
Here’s Steve’s Top 10 Bass Tips For Killer Groove.
Relax. Nothing Grooves if your wrists and shoulders are stiff. This goes for both hands.
The trick here is to completely relax. Playing stiff, restricts your ability to move smoothly around the notes, it can also make your playing sound quite robotic and it’s more difficult to play quieter dynamics. Which are just as important as the loud notes! I see so many bass players play with stiff technique. Remember, it takes a while for this to become subconscious.
Get into the movement. Tap your foot, move your body or swing your head from side to side. Feel the music and it’s easier to lock in.
Yes! This is particularly true if you are performing live in a rehearsal, or on stage. It is so much easier to lock in with the other musicians if you are tapping away, feeling the pulse of the drummer and complimenting the rest of the musicians by playing in the moment.
Practice to a drum beat, drum track or with an actual drummer. Groove is created by locking in with the drum beat
I can’t stress this one enough. When you perform groove. You are performing rhythm. Your drummer is your best friend, you both form part of the rhythm section. Always make sure you find a good drummer to perform with. Pay particular attention to their kick drum, this is where the bass and drums really come to life. You’ll notice a lot of the notes form a unison together and lock in. This is GROOVE! The more you play with the same drummer, the tighter this should get.
Learn drum patterns on Bass. Use different strings to represent different parts of the drum kit.
Play drum rhythm on your bass! This can be applied more, to slap bass, though it’s absolutely key in all bass playing. Use your fingers to tap out simple drum rhythms. Then apply notes over the top. Before you know it, you are playing a funky bass line!
Try playing bass standing up. This changes your body posture and can help you groove differently to when you’re sitting down.
Always try to perform standing up. No one wants to see a bass player sitting down. You are the life and soul of the band in terms of rhythm and feel. You need to make people dance and feel the rhythm. The exception here would be the drummer, but they can’t exactly help that. It’s a good idea to find which side of the drummer you like to stand on. Some prefer the left and some prefer the right. It can also depend if your drummer is left handed. Having a good view of the kit can really help create a tight connection when performing. Then, if you are stood up. You can shape some moves!
Listen to songs you want to emulate in detail to hear how the bass sits within the band
Laptop speakers, phone speakers and computer speakers in general, are no good for listening to bass guitar. You absolutely need a set of decent headphones, or speakers which output bass properly. So much gets lost with a bad set of speakers, investing in a decent set will be the best thing you do. This will allow you to listen to them properly in detail and hear exactly what is being played.
Groove can be created on one note so don’t get flashy. Pick one note or string and make it feel good.
In other words, don’t overplay! This is a big NO! Stick to simple, easy and solid rhythms. Your band will respect you for it. Ok, so you want to show off your new Marcus Miller chops, but that ain’t gonna’ make people shake their booty on the dance-floor! Save them for your practice time, or arrange a jam where you can go all our nerdy!
Get into the habit of humming or tapping rhythms before trying to play them. This helps you to concentrate purely on the rhythmic side and not the actual notes you’re playing.
The ultimate question. Notes vs Rhythm, what’s more important? Well, in this case, having to choose? Definitely the Rhythm. You can fix notes, you may hit one of two wrong ones here and there. But, you can’t fix a bad rhythm. At least you will still be locking in with your band.
Learn how to play staccato (short) and legato (long) notes. Groove is created by mixing short and long notes to create light and heavy moments in your groove.
Absolutely a must! This allows you to become a creative and dynamic bass player. Listen to lots of music, try out some slap and make sure you study the basics. Having a range of skills in your ‘bass toolbox’, is essential.
Practice Ghost and muted notes to fill in empty space. Use sparingly to make your bass lines bounce. Different genres lend themselves to different types of bounce.
I mentioned before, that ghost notes are just as important! YES, they are. They help us feel, they help us play with groove and they make the whole thing gel. You need to invest a lot of time into your bass playing. But, if you do so I can assure you it can be one of the most rewarding instruments to learn.
Where can I learn more?
If you’re looking to learn more, I am a weekly live Bass Masterclass. This comes with exclusive PDF lesson material, a live Q&A and lasts for 90 minutes! Every Monday at 8:15PM GMT. Reserve a space by clicking the picture below!
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