shredding your axeDepending on your preferred music genre, you ambitions related to your instrument of choice might be various. There are steps that you might want to take or not, but there are also obligatory techniques that you simply have to learn. If you are a bassist and you would like to play heavy metal or hard rock, the shredding technique belongs to the latter.

So what is shredding, actually? Simply put, bass shredding is the buzzing of those low sounds that you hear in almost any spiced up metal song. Developing decent shredding skills will help you a lot when you are going to accompany so-called “drum blasts”.

Learning the Basics of Shredding

Generally speaking, shredding describes a style which has speed as its main characteristic. However, in order to develop shredding speed, you need to practice basic plucking from the lower end of the tempo scale.

Below you can see four measures of eighth notes that are all part of the C major chord. The technique used here is very simple; basically you play even bars full of eighth notes of the same key using alternating plucking.

alternate your strokes

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Taking Shredding to the Next Level

There is a lot more to shredding than what I was able to show you in the previous example. To add variety to your shredding skills, you should be able to play the differences between several rhythmical idioms accurately.

The example below starts off with well-separated blocks of four sixteenth notes. Practicing such small bursts of rapid plucking will enable you to put things together and play more advanced things. Such advanced trickery hides in the second measure below, where the rests between the groups of sixteenths has been removed.

Finally, you can see how triplets and even sixteenth note triplets can be played with sixteenth, eighths and even quarter notes being in the same measure. The transition between the odd pulsation of the triplets to the even pulsation of sixteenths and eighth notes is something that you should pay a lot of attention.

Also, this example is in the A major scale, just so that you would also practice in a different keys and using different fingering.

taking shredding to the next level

Download the .gtp file for the lesson ( Right click and Save As… )

Things That You Should Pay Attention to While Shredding

I should warn you that in most cases there are more elegant solutions to your musical problem than the application of shredding. However, if you still decide to shred, there are a few things that you should pay close attention to.

First of all, take everything slowly: everyone can shake their hands, even when a bass guitar string is close. That will not yield harmony: you should first make sure that what you play is accurate, pumping the metronome should only later follow.

The next thing is to make sure that your hands are relaxed. While a certain muscle tone is required if you want to use the shredding technique, you should not try to improve your speed by flexing all your muscles and moving your hand from your elbow. A tense hand will ruin your speed and accuracy at the same time. Developing your speed with relaxed muscles will seem harder, but in the end it will definitely pay off.

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