Every genre of music has its go to techniques and structures. Whether you are playing jazz, which of course has the diminished scales and seventh chords under constant use, or heavy metal, which is more about heavy palm muting technique and syncopation, you will find yourself falling into a few, well-used techniques that will become the foundation for your playing.
In this article, we are going to discuss the foundation of bass guitar, namely the techniques most frequently used in rock bass.
So let’s cut straight to it; what are the most frequently used techniques in rock bass?
Well, one of them is the use of a pick, just as in heavy metal. Most musical styles do not involve a pick when it comes to bass playing, but rock and roll is one of the exceptions. If you want to start using a pick, the best thing to do is to develop a rounded technique.
Start off by working on your down picking, as it will be the form you will use most commonly. Then work your way to alternate picking, getting a fluid motion going between your down strokes and your up strokes. Once you feel good about that, try working at more advanced picking styles, such as string skipping and sweep picking, even some economy picking.
Another of the most commonly used bass guitar techniques is really a technique so much as it is a playing style. In rock and roll, the bass tends to stick more to the lower strings, favoring them at octaves over the higher strings such as the D and G strings.
This is because it gives the music more of a “punch,” or creates a fuller sound that makes it heavier, meaner, and simply more attractive for the genre. If you don’t know your fret board, you will find it a bit difficult to find the proper octaves. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that, using the same string, an octave is always twelve frets away from your note.
Take for instance on open E. The octave to E on that same string would be one the twelfth fret. If you want an octave on the higher string, move up to frets and down two strings (if using a four sting bass). Thus, your low E will have its octave on the second fret of the D string, which is the note E.
The last, most commonly used technique in rock bass guitar, is the triplet. A triplet is a group of three notes that count as a beat. Triplets are used in a variety of ways, the most well-known of which is the gallop, or the reverse gallop, two rock and roll staples. If you want to get better at playing triplets, you should take the time to work along with a metronome and time your triplets to the beat until you are comfortable.
In the end, practice makes perfect, and if you want to perfect your rock guitar playing, you will have to do a ton of it. Have fun, and good luck!
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