"in the pocket"

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bunny McB, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. Can someone explain what this means and why I see so many ads looking for a "bass player who plays in the pocket?"
    Thank you
  2. tdub0199


    Mar 4, 2010
    Atlanta, Ga.
  3. vernhillbass


    May 11, 2012
    what it means to me as a bass player is that I can lock in time with the drummer. If you've ever heard a band and thought "they are tight', that's what it is. good examples of in the pocket are guys like Nathan East or Marcus Miller to me. Listen to this clip...that's the best example of 'playing in the pocket' I can think of.

  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I'd be wary if I saw an ad like that... usually means 'hammer root notes, play anything flashy you say goodbye to those fingertips'o youers' :bag:

    Pocket playing, at its most basic, is being so tight with your drummer that you could shove coal between you guys and a diamond comes out. Really.
  5. Sponsored by:

  6. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    Generally, if it's craigslist all "in the pocket" means is that you have good meter/tempo and they don't have to hold your hand and walk you through every song.
    IMHO, this term is way overused and even misused. It has simply become a term for "good"

    I was recently sitting in with a band and we just completed a song.
    It was a meter challenged, herky-jerky mess but we all started and ended precisely together.
    First thing out of the guitar players mouth, "Cool, that was in the pocket!"
  7. Primarily, means Locking to the drummer, and playing your part in sync with him. But it begins with practicing with a metronome, and listening to see if you hold the tempo, and your subdivisions, 16ths, etc.,line up.

    Pocket also means knowing when to play behind the beat, push or lay back different beats, knowing the different types of swing, etc.

    Playing all fancy, tapping, two handing, slapping, etc., is useless if you can't play it in time. You can play in the pocket just as well with the head to Donna Lee, as you can with "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch".
  8. I agree with azureblue, being tight and in time is just the beginning. It's feeling the 16ths the same way with the drummer and rhythm guitarist's strumming, having the same inflection on the subdivisions or "swing" - the amount by which you deviate from mechanically perfect 16th notes to add a slightly 16th note triplet feel to the groove, without going all the way to straight 16th note triplets. To me a pocket is a matter of the feel and texture of the rhythm beyond just the tightness.

    So jack-hammer down-picked 16th notes from Metallica or Slayer is one kind of pocket, while sunny happy 16th notes from The Wailers is an entirely different kind of pocket. While both start at being well-locked rhythmically, the difference in feel and texture of those two grooves contains more difference than just a difference in tempos. That difference of feeling to me is "the pocket" and being in it means you and the drummer and rhythm guitar player and keyboardist are all feeling it and playing it the same way.
  9. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Locked into the kick drum. Whether you've heard it or done it, there's nothing more intense.
  10. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    It means whoever wrote the ad likes buzz words. :D

    There is no universally agreed on definition, but when I see that I think they want someone who plays very simply and is follows the drummer.
  11. I've always interpreted "in the pocket" = "strong and confident subdivision of the beats, as dictated by the genre" (8th notes for rock, shuffle for blues, 16ths for funk, etc.)
  12. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Its when everyone agrees where the 1 is, then hits it all the time together, specially , da riddim sect.
  13. Frenchy-Lefty


    Sep 8, 2009
    Pretty much it means "locking with the drummer". To expend a little there are different ways of playing the pocket. You can play "on top" of the beat or "behind" the beat. It totally changes the feel of the music and you'll use one or the other depending of the context. Playing involuntarly ahead of the beat will make the music feel rushed and the bass sound small. It rarely works. All those concepts of playing the pocket are great stuff to master and often make the difference between a pro and an amateur bass player. It is great to experiment with a drum machine or with a drummer. Now as said above, in Craiglist jargon it usually means "you should vaguely be able to play 8th that loosely seem to be played at the same time with a drummer but who cares about what you play cause no one can hear the bassist with this blasting Marshall anyway". Just kidding...
  14. Dr_Funkdamental

    Dr_Funkdamental Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2005
    Fayetteville, NC
    Best pocket quote ever.
  15. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    To me "groove" and "playing in the pocket" mean the same thing : Dance music.

    In other words, it is a repeatable bass and drum lines with very few variation for the guitar that will make people dance.

    You won't hear someone says that Metal groove and you obviously need a drum to hear the beat otherwise it can't groove ... in Classical music, there is a lot of dance music like Minuet but without a drum ( big oversized metronome ) people of today couldn't even get the beat ...
  16. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Endorsing Artist: Brubaker Guitars, Tecamp Bass Players Gear, Bartolini Emerging Artist
    A pocket is used to carry something. That something is the groove and feel created when bass and drums play in such as way that it seems like one. Drum and bass stay out of each others way and at the same time are playing together. There is magic that happens between the space that exists between the hi hat, snare, and kick. When bass player and drummer can make that interaction between bass line, snare, hi hat, and kick work, it forms a pocket around the groove. You just pick the whole thing up and carry it where you like. You can tell right away when your head starts bobbin.
  17. KarlK


    Jan 11, 2013
    Yo Bunny, whatsum every you do, I want you to remember this here: you can't hold no groove if you ain't got no pocket.
  18. Swakey


    Nov 26, 2012
    +1 on that.

    I always prefer not to think of groove, time, feel and pocket as the same thing. There's an extremely thin line between them and they all evolve from each other. What pocket actually I guess if your pocket ain't big enough you should buy bigger pants :D

    I liked this article