String Skipping on Bass Guitar

To get started watch the youtube clip for this lesson. If you're ok on bass guitar this might look deceptively simple. But, there's a few cool things going on here. Hit play and watch this bass guitar video lesson and then read on while we break down what's going on.

This bass line is built around a simple two chord progression - G Major and D Major. We purposely kept the progression simple. If you want to use an idea like this for more complicated progressions go for it. You'll notice we played it a slow 92 beats-per-minute and a much faster 128 beats-per-minute.

We didn't call this lesson bass guitar string skipping for nothing. Look at the jump! Each bar starts with a pretty standard approach to root notes, G on the E string and D on the A string. The pattern then jumps down to the G string and plays a somewhat higher note groove. Notice that regardless of the root note the pattern always remains the same. This creates a progression that can sustain for quite a while without becoming boring. You're holding enough of a low end to keep a full bass sound, but also adding some interesting melodic elements that take the bass into the register where other instruments normally sit. Perfect for your three piece rock band or larger ensembles.

 bass guitar D root note

Now, the fretting hand fingering shown in blue numbers under the bass tab. It's pretty much straight forward with an emphasis on one-finger-per-fret where possible. But notice both the choice of location of the D root note and the pinky finger playing it. Why? If you play the D note open you're going to loose a lot of control of that note, it's just going to right out and you loose some tightness. And, why the choice of using the pinky finger? Two reasons: first, to give that finger a work-out and this is a great pattern to do it with. Second, if you look at the note that immediately proceeds the D note in each of the second bars (look at the last note of bar 2 in the G chord score), it's being played with the 3rd finger. You're probably pretty tempted to use that same finger to play the D notes on the 5th fret. But when you take this approach it just feels less natural. It doesn't feel right. Depending on your playing level there shouldn't be too much difference in sound, but it just doesn't feel right. In fact, the pinky version is the easier way to play it.

Now to the playing hand fingering, shown in green. This is which fingers you use to actually play the strings (assuming you're not using a pick on your bass). Once again, it's all pretty straight forward. If you've never gone past using fingers 1 and 2 then bar one is really great to get your third finger involved. You could even use that single bar as a practice/warm-up exercise for getting your third finger going. The reason for this approach is to get your playing hand dominating the strings. The second bar is a different story. As we broke this down to tab it we discovered that we couldn't lock in a correct approach. We played through it multiple times and then decided it should be up to the player to choose what they want to do on that bar. Our suggestions for the last three notes of the bar are either 2-3-2, or 2-3-3. Try both! See how you feel, and we'd love to hear a comment if you've got one.

IK Multimedia's MODO BASS

And... did you notice that for the 128BPM the entire thing is played legato style? It's all hammer-ons. We didn't even plan that. When we listened back we noticed the player had subconsciously played the whole thing legato style. We don't mind at all. It's a different approach you might like to try - just keep in mind all those hammer-ons don't appear in the tab. Lastly, check the way we finished the 128BPM. Instead of using the standard approach of resolving with a root note we plucked out a nice diad based on the D-Major chord.

Ok, have fun. Get than pinky finger working out on the fretboard, and get your playing hand fingers stretching across those strings to really own your bass guitar.

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