Essential Secrets 30: Improve the Groove
Improve the Groove
Adding Spice to Any Song
Advanced techniques like slapping and tapping, chordal playing, and harmonics are all used by bass soloists today. However, the primary responsibility of bass players is to create bass lines that define the groove and feel of songs. Focusing on groove playing should be part of your practicing every day.
The exact definition of the groove—and deciding just what makes some playing “in the pocket” while other bass lines narrowly miss this elusive and blissful state—is open to debate. However, there are several aspects of your bass technique that will improve any groove you play.
First, make sure that you subdivide all beats in every measure evenly. Whether you’re playing eighth notes, sixteenth notes, or triplets, every note needs to fall exactly in its assigned place in the bar if you want your bass lines to sound right. Keep the spacing between notes even by working with a metronome and counting the subdivisions.
Second, the length of notes radically changes the feel of your bass lines. Playing every note long and connected creates a different sound than playing all the notes short and separated. Experiment with note length and decide which notes need to be long and which need to be short to make your line sound best.
Third, accents play a critical role in determining the groove. Accenting the strong beats (one and three), the backbeats (two and four), or the upbeats (the “and” of beats one, two, three, and four) each gives you a different flavor. Don’t leave these accents to chance. Make sure you can control the volume of each individual note.
Every bass line you learn has a unique feel. Pay attention to note spacing, note length, and accents to make your playing feel right. When you’re in the groove, you’ll give every song you play a boost of energy and excitement.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET