Free Bass Transcriptions

Free Bass Transcriptions

Here come the dots

Category: GOTW 2

Groove Of The Week #30: Pleasure – ‘Glide’

Playing Catchup – Can’t Slap, Won’t Slap – Trade Show Fatigue   Checking the Instagram post date of this video tells me that I’m a woeful 9 months behind on…

Playing Catchup – Can’t Slap, Won’t Slap – Trade Show Fatigue

 

Checking the Instagram post date of this video tells me that I’m a woeful 9 months behind on this series. Whoops. The original intention was for Groove Of The Week was to be wrapped up at the end of 2015, but it’s already been 18 months.

To paraphrase John Lennon, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

This time we’re dealing with Nate Philips’ wonderful slap part on Pleasure’s pop-fusion hit ‘Glide’. For me this is old-school slap at its finest, in terms of both tone and technique. The alternation between the sparse, syncopated tenths and the slapped fills allows the bass part to maintain a level of interest for both player and listener without becoming too busy:

 

 

As far as performance goes, I prefer to use the my thumb and middle finger to pluck the tenths (yes, there’s one ninth in there to avoid resorting to spelling B as Cb). When it comes to the slap, only the G string notes are popped, everything else is slapped with the thumb.

Here are the dots:

GOTW - Glide

In my opinion, the secret to a good, consistent slap sound is largely dependent on getting a strong tone from slapping the D string – many bassists tend to divide the bass in half and never use their thumbs past the A string, when the ‘secret’ to executing many lines evenly comes from using the thumb across a broader range of the bass.

This is near the top end of my slap technique threshold, and it have no shame in admitting that. I grew up in the pre-YouTube era on a strict diet of Hot Licks VHS tapes and spent (wasted) countless hours trying to turn myself into this guy:

s-l1000

 

How much of  it have I used on gigs? Very little. Certainly none of the flamenco slap.

Or the tapping. Don’t even get me started on tapping.

But I do still have a certain ‘residual’ level of thumb technique that allows me to survive any slap bass encounters unscathed without having to sacrifice vital practice time on a style of playing that I have grown to detest.

In fact, my contempt for slap bass has got to the point where I try to never slap on a gig unless it’s unavoidable. In fact, the only such situation is if I’m playing a function and someone calls Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much’- the line just doesn’t sit well when played fingerstyle.

The overwhelming popularity of slap amongst bass players is the number one reason why I avoid any sort of trade show or bass conventions of any kind. Every time I attempt to try a piece of gear I’m aurally assaulted by a gentleman* who wants everyone in the room to hear how fast he can play Level 42’s back catalogue. When multiple offences occur simultaneously it’s much like an explosion in a typewriter factory. Lots of technique, very little music.

*The offenders are almost always male, often sporting double denim and a mullet.

Room full of basses? Heaven. Room full of bass players? Purgatory.

Here endeth the sermon.

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Groove Of The Week #29: Michael Jackson – ‘Billie Jean’

Sounding Like a Synth, Part 2 The previous edition of Groove of the Week dealt with one of the many scenarios in which bass players might be called to emulate…

Sounding Like a Synth, Part 2

The previous edition of Groove of the Week dealt with one of the many scenarios in which bass players might be called to emulate a synth part. Here’s a dancefloor favourite from The King of Pop that was originally played on a Moog synth by Greg Phillingaines (Greg is also the man who played the monster bass part on Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’):

 

GOTW - Billie Jean

The late, great Louis Johnson also played bass on Billie Jean. His part can be heard in the prechorus section, but it’s Greg’s groove that we’re concerned with replicating here.

Double Trouble: Dealing with 2 notes at once

Since the original synth part contains elements with 2 notes at once, a slightly different right hand approach is needed as traditional fingerstyle doesn’t quite cut it for double stops. Time to give your thumb a workout:

Using the thumb and fingers to pluck the strings is a highly versatile technique, but one that is seldom employed by many bassists. It will take some time to adjust to using your right hand in this way, but adopting this approach will make it far easier to incorporate double stops and other chordal ideas into your playing. Using palm muting with thumb and finger plucking further expands your tonal palette, offering articulation that isn’t possible using fingers alone.

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Groove Of The Week #28: The Weeknd – 'Can't Feel My Face'

Following a request to include something more contemporary in the series, I scoured mainstream radio for something bass-heavy to transcribe: View this post on Instagram Had requests for a more…

Following a request to include something more contemporary in the series, I scoured mainstream radio for something bass-heavy to transcribe:

Here are the dots:

GOTW Can t Feel My Face

In order to emulate the original sound from the recording I used one of my favourite pedals, the Boss OC-2. Although my gear hoard includes a bass synth (an original Novation BassStation for the gear nerds), I rarely take it out on gigs as it’s a hassle to pack the extra gear for one or two songs in a set.

I find that an octave pedal, such as the OC-2, provides a decent approximation of many bass synth sounds found on recordings*. If there’s song that originally had a bass part played on a synth then I’ll tend to use an octave pedal with the dry signal turned down and the effected octave-below sound close to 100%. This results in a tone which makes the attack and envelope of each note closer to that of a keyboard and less like a bass guitar.

It’s not just a case of using the pedal to reach notes that are below the range of a 4-string bass – I’ll often use an octave pedal on gigs rather than use a 5-string because of the tone that it provides.

*for the curious, other function tunes that I give the octave pedal treatment include ‘Superstition’, Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Shake Your Body’, Florence + The Machine’s ‘You’ve Got The Love’ and Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’.

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Groove Of The Week #27: Weather Report – ‘River People’

27 posts into Groove Of The Week and we haven’t yet heard from Jaco Pastorius – let’s change that. There are plenty of Jaco lines to choose from, and while…

27 posts into Groove Of The Week and we haven’t yet heard from Jaco Pastorius – let’s change that.

There are plenty of Jaco lines to choose from, and while he’s often remembered for his pyrotechnics his sense of groove was unparalleled. Part of the reason that he was able to get away with being such a busy player is that his touch and time on the instrument was always faultless.

Pastorius staples such as ‘The Chicken’ and ‘Teen Town’ get plenty of exposure, but ‘River People’ (from Weather Report’s Mr.Gone) seems to be less well known among bassists.

While it doesn’t sound as tough as other Jaco workouts like ‘Havona’ or ‘Donna Lee’, the challenge here is one of stamina. Executing (and maintaining) the line at tempo requires plenty of stamina and provides a great workout for those of us who feel that our 16th-note octaves need some refinement:

 

GOTW - River People

Last month I attended the UK premiere of Robert Trujilo’s ‘Jaco’ documentary, which I highly recommend even if you have only a passing interest in the man and his music. Even if you’re not a fan of his recorded output there is no debate that he completely altered the destiny of the electric bass and influenced everyone else who came after him, whether they acknowledge it or not.

Jaco was our Hendrix, and should be revered as such. Often imitated, but seldom bettered.

He could also play the hell out of the piano:

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Groove Of The Week #26: Jackie Wilson – ‘Higher and Higher’

This installment of Groove Of The Week features possibly the shortest, most repetitive and least varied bass groove to date – it’s also one of the most important. One bar….

This installment of Groove Of The Week features possibly the shortest, most repetitive and least varied bass groove to date – it’s also one of the most important.

One bar. Over and over. Minimal variations. No fills. No frills.

Boring, right?

Wrong.

Consistency is the number one trait that will get you hired time and time again (punctuality and above-average personal hygiene should also be high up in your ‘skill set’). What do I mean by consistency?

Playing a line in time at the same volume and with the same articulation for 4-5 minutes without ceasing (extend this to 25 minutes if you’re playing ‘Chameleon’ at a jam night).

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do well. Put down your slap licks and your string crossing exercises and challenge yourself to play James Jamerson’s sublime D major groove without deviating in any way whatsoever from the original line.

Ok, there’s ONE variation in the video. Sue me.

Here are the dots. The sharp-eyed (and keen-eared) among you will recognise this as THE staple ‘Motown/soul major chord’ 1-5-6 lick heard on just about every soul tune ever; ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Respect’,’Love Really Hurts Without You’, ‘Faith’, ‘What’s Going On’ (octave displacement), ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Rescue Me’ are just a few off the top of my head.

GOTW Higher and Higher

This is one of Jamerson’s most famous lines that doesn’t feature any of his much lauded chromaticism. In fact, it sounds like he’s on his best behaviour. If you don’t already, rush out this instant and get a copy of the ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown’ book which features note-for-note transcriptions of lots of JJ’s parts and interviews with lots of amazing players on how his playing influenced them.

As a geeky aside, ‘Higher and Higher’ was recorded in Chicago by Jamerson and the other Funk Brothers while they were moonlighting from Motown – they would often drive over from Detroit and do ‘undercover’ sessions to augment their pay from Berry Gordy’s label. Not bad for something knocked up on your day off. 

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Groove Of The Week #25: Jocelyn Brown – ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’

The site has overgone a major (and long overdue) facelift over the past few weeks – thank you for being patient during the downtime. The goal is to roll out…

The site has overgone a major (and long overdue) facelift over the past few weeks – thank you for being patient during the downtime. The goal is to roll out lots of new content over the coming months including video lessons, instructional books and plenty of new bass transcriptions.

All of the original transcriptions and blog posts from the previous version of the site should still be intact – if you find that anything is missing, broken or just looks plain wrong then please shout at me.

I’m acutely aware that the Groove Of The Week series is woefully behind schedule, so let’s get back to it.

Groove Of The Week #25: Jocelyn Brown – ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’

A while ago we examined the groove on Bruno Mars’ ‘Treasure’, which featured frequent alternation between fingerstyle playing and popping. This ‘half-slap’ style of playing can be troublesome initially as it requires you to quickly change between two techniques that require your right hand to be at completely different angles.

Personally, I feel that it’s worth persevering with the ‘half-slap’ as it offers a (marginally) more subtle alternative to conventional slap bass playing and requires less EQ-twiddling to get it to work in a live environment.

GOTW - Somebody elses guy

In spite of lots of googling, I couldn’t find accurate credits for who actually played bass on the original. If anyone knows for sure then leave a comment below and I’ll do you a FREE TRANSCRIPTION of your choice*

 

 

 

*Within reason. No Rush, please (not because their stuff is difficult,  I just can’t STAND Geddy Lee). Ditto for Dream Theater.

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