So you’ve completed basic lessons for playing the bass guitar. Are you satisfied with your current repertoire? If not, here are a couple of neat bass guitar playing styles or techniques that are easy to learn and can immediately add depth and variety to your music.
Most people who have only recently started playing the bass guitar make themselves content with a simple slap groove. This is because few novice guitarists are aware of advanced techniques like double popping, which makes use of other fingers and creates more complex arrangements of popping.
The formula for a double pop is simple to memorize and master.
- Start with a slap (S).
- Proceed to hammering on (h).
- Pull-off (p).
- Pop using your first finger.
- Pop using your second finger.
With sweep picking, and especially through arpeggios, the best thing novice bass guitarists can do is to take things step by step. Begin with sweeping two strings. Master this. Conquer it. And only after that should you move on to something more advanced.
When you research online for tips and exercises for sweep picking, you’ll notice that advice tends to vary about the finger positioning and the upstrokes and downstrokes used. There is no right or wrong advice, though. What matters is that you choose the method which you’re most comfortable with.
Techniques are not all about playing. There are also essential advanced techniques which focus on maintaining the quality of your music and the condition of your instrument. Using harmonics to tune your bass guitar, for instance, is a critical technique to learn because you get to listen to both notes as you work on the pegs.
Harmonic tuning works best when you’ve plugged your bass guitar. Now, start by placing our finger over the E string’s fifth fret. Play it using either your thumb, picking finger, or with a pick. The high-pitched note it produces is a harmonic. Release the string and allow the harmonic to play out. How was it?
Practice, Practice, Practice
The techniques listed here for playing the bass guitar are just the start, of course. There are many other techniques to learn. If you want to be a great bass guitarist then you need to constantly practice. You should also welcome every opportunity to learn new things because that’s the only way you can hone your craft.
About the Author: Belle writes for SherwoodMusic.org, where you can read her recent post on guitars and beginner piano lessons online. You can also check out her other writings on Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music, her other musical love.