In funk playing, your groove is your identity, and no two styles are completely alike. However much you try to, it isn’t easy to emulate your favorite players’ style note by note for every song. This is because we all have unique playing identities—or at least, we should have unique playing identities.
In this article, we will talk about how to bring out your own personal groove for funk bass playing.
First off, there are a few things that you should consider. The most important, and the most obvious, is whether or not you know how to play slap bass. Slap bass is one of staples of funk bass guitar playing, and if you want to get your groove on, you’ll need to learn at least the basics.
There are two parts to the slap bass technique; the slap and the pop. The slap is performed using the side of the thumb, the thick, bulbous bone of your joint, on the lower strings, most commonly the E string and the A string.
The pop is made by taking the middle finger and the index finger and making a “claw” out of them, then pulling up on the higher strings, most commonly the D string and the G string, creating the popping sound by releasing them and letting them “slam” back down into their original positions.
The best way to achieve a fluid motion with this technique is by employing a pendulum motion within the wrist, on that allows the slap to be followed up immediately by the pop.
Now, if you want to get the groove into your playing, you will have to take the time to practice. Groove is all about timing and feel, two things that can only be developed through a ton of hard work and practice.
The best thing you can do is to perfect your slapping style, then work on playing along to a backing track. Try approaching the progressions that are being used in a different way; slap when you think others would pop, and pop when you think others would slap. Try adding different techniques, such as hammer ons and pull offs, even legato slides—anything that you feel will add to the atmosphere.
Don’t limit yourself to a small set of techniques. There are tons of possibilities when it comes to constructing your own style, and the only way you’ll ever succeed in finding the ones that properly fit you is through some practice.
Another great thing to do is to try and listen to your favorite players. See what makes them different, what sets them apart from other players and what their signature style consists of.
In the end, all you need to really do to get the groove for funk playing is to play some funk. Set aside a block of time each day in which to play some slap bass. Work on constructing a few melodies, and then build upon them with some improvisation. Remember to have fun, and good luck!
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