If you like to groove, funk is the way to do it. Funk bass playing is fun, dynamic, and it can teach you a lot about feeling. In this lesson, we will go over the basics of finger style funk bass playing so that you can get a kick start in this fun and exciting genre.
The first thing you need to think about is fingering. Like all bass finger styles, the funk bass finger style will require you to develop a comfortable fingering pattern so that you can play steady grooves without any unseemly hitches.
One of the best fingering styles we have come across is the middle finger, index finger, ring finger, middle finger pattern. This fingering pattern is extremely efficient as it divides the work load between all of your fingers, saving the extra bit for your strongest digit, the middle finger. When played throughout a continuous pattern, all of your fingers perform equal shares of the work load.
Although this is our favorite fingering pattern, by no means is it the only choice. If it doesn’t feel right for you, simply take your time to find a pattern that does. Playing uncomfortably will only lead to injury, so if you don’t enjoy the feel of the middle finger, index finger, ring finger, middle finger pattern, try others.
The most important thing that you should understand is to avoid the pinky. The pinky is a very fragile digit, and it is easy to hyper extend the small finger when putting too much stress on it. In most cases, the lightest tension weight on a string is sixteen pounds, which is a bit much for your small finger.
After you’ve found a comfortable fingering pattern, you’ll need to decide whether you want long nails or short nails. For short nails, it is best that you clip them to nubs to avoid cracks at the tips. This means your nail should display absolutely no white. If you choose long nails, you need to take care of them.
Getting manicures and coating your nails in clear nail lacquer (yes, many professional musicians use these tools, so don’t feel grossed out, they aren’t only for women) will help to keep your nails strong and healthy. Make sure to keep the clean and properly trimmed. This will help avoid painful tears and breaks.
Finger style funk bass playing is all about flowing. This means that you need a fully developed sense of rhythm. If your rhythm is off your notes and your lines will sound choppy and awkward. The best thing you can do is sit down with a metronome and put in your hours to develop a steady rhythmic sense. Once you have, you can worry about all other aspects.
Playing funk bass guitar with your fingers allows your notes to blend together and achieve a smooth texture. Don’t feel the need to pluck at notes or white knuckle your frets; allow yourself to relax and let the rhythm take you. The only way to get better is to practice. Set aside a block of time each day to practice your finger style funk bass playing. Practice both fingering techniques and basic funk lines.
Have fun with it, but work hard.
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