Write better basslines: Groove Backpack #4

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This article covers and explains the fourth bassline created just for you in the Groove Backpack series. Learning these basslines and expanding on them will help you master writing basslines for your bands. This article contains a transcription in bass tablature as well as a transcription in standard notation. If you want to learn more about my philosophy behind writing good bass parts, be sure to check out my article How to write better basslines: The 4 ingredients.

You can find the other grooves that belong to this series by clicking on “Groove Backpack” in the top menu on this page, or by clicking here. Dive in, shall we?

The groove

Harmony: The chord progression

There are two parts and an intro lick. The A section of the song simply vamps on an E7 chord. If you’ve read the article about applying modes, you know that a Mixolydian scale sounds good on the E dominant chord. It’s very common practice to also add the minor third in there. So that’s what I did. This bassline would also sound good on a minor chord for that reason, since I am not playing the major third at all.

The intro-lick I play is derived from a pentatonic minor scale. You could therefor play it over any minor chord or (depending on the situation) over a dominant chord.

The B-section has two extra chords in there, a C7 chord and a D7 chord. Notice that most notes are derived from the major pentatonic scale. I added in the minor third for added flavor.

Why the bassline works

A lot of drummers have trouble playing over a slap bass line. The reason they do is mostly because they don’t know how to approach accompanying intricate lines like the example in this lesson which are filled with 16ths and even some 32nds notes. Most drummers tend to overplay in situations like this.

If you listen to some Sly & The Family Stone, Graham Central Station or Marcus Miller, you will soon realize that less is more when it comes to these kinds of bass lines. If the drummer keeps a steady beat and lays down the foundation, the bass player can thump away without a care.

Pro tricks: Playing slap bass lines

  • When playing slap basslines like this one, a lot of players put emphasis on the pops instead of the slaps/thumps. If you however emphasize the slaps, your groove is stronger and your audience will love you for it.
  • By slapping through the string instead of against the string I make sure I get a nice solid tone, even when slapping on the G or D string.
  • Make sure you don’t play too many ghost notes. Playing “real”, sounding notes give intention to what you are playing. Playing too many ghost notes often results in just generating surface noise.

Download and more grooves

If you want to download the whole transcription as a pdf, you can click here.

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I hope you found this article helpful! Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are and if you have any questions or suggestions.

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