Bass Transcription: Vulfpeck – ‘Back Pocket’

Confession time: I did this transcription using the stems for ‘Back Pocket’ that are available at the Vulf Stems Bandcamp page (you too can download them and import them into a DAW such as Logic, Audacity or Reaper, isolate individual instruments and even make your own remix. Hours of fun.) on a pay what you want basis – don’t be that person who expects everything on the Internet to be free; forgo your next dairy-free decaf latte and pay for the damn stems.

Is transcribing from the stems cheating? Probably. Am I going to feel guilty? Absolutely not, because hearing Joe Dart’s isolated bass part allows us to hear microscopic details that are almost impossible to discern when listening to the full track.

Vulfpeck – ‘Back Pocket’ Bass Transcription PDF

Take a look at the chart and you’ll see there are ghost notes (muted notes/dead notes/whatever you want to call them) between almost every root note. These are hard to detect when the drums, percussion, guitar and keyboards are in place, but the isolated bass track reveals that Joe Dart is playing an almost constant stream of percolating, percussive notes throughout the track.

Details, Details, Details

I’ve tried to provide as much detail as possible regarding how to go about playing the ghost notes in ‘Back Pocket’ by notating the pitch of the string being played rather than the exact location of the fretting hand on the neck; there is one exception – the E natural in bar 59 – but almost everything else is sounded by playing a ghost note on the string above the root note of the chord and using the plucking hand to ‘rake’ across the strings, playing both the ghost note and the fretted note with the same right-hand finger in one smooth motion.

This is hard to describe in text, so take a look at the play-along video to get a better idea of my right-hand approach to this tune:


At points in the transcription, you’ll see ghost notes with an accent above them; this indicates that there’s a percussive hit (more of a ‘pat’, really) on the string – you don’t have to use much force to get a sound, and then the finger is in a good position to play a rest stroke for the next note. The end of the middle 8 section (bars 35-36) provides plenty of opportunities to practise these.