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How to play funk style bass grooves, lines, etc? (metal bassist but love and appreciate funk)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Sergius Durante, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    So I play mostly metal/punk style bass, I tap, I tap arpeggios, gallop (2-3 finger and thumb at times), currently added flicking (don't wann go over that again), and try to slap but never confident without doing boring octave stuff

    But if there is one style any bassist can appreciate, it is a funky groovy walking bass line/slap/staccato with your string mutes that sound amazing as double glazed donut (if you like that)

    But here is the thing, while I play metal... I can't apply what I know to this style. Im not too informed on music theory, I practice learning scales (for example, where all the a's are in a harmonic minor on a 5 string tune to Eb, use of modes and positions across the neck, but I usually need reference) as well as creating arpeggios, but I just don't understand the ways of funk or groovey bass lines. Sometimes I fiddle around and be that guy that puts too much and it just sounds like a mess, so ease up to hold the beat but feel paranoid, that Im being boring root note guy and doing too little. A groovy Tone is something unique, and I'm still trying to dial in a good funk tone for when I do so in the practice of mine own house, or real quick for a jam or filler at a gig

    What do you ya'll on TB do, what did you practice to get the groove style ya'll have?
    I listen to Victor Wooten very often, and try to see how approaches the bass, but it's a totally different area I ignored because that seemed more harder than metal bass, but more people are funk slappers/funk grovers than metal/rock bassists, and I wanna approach bass like you too :(
  2. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Here are my favorite examples

  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    It's not rocket surgery. Just learn the correct notes and play them at the right time. The music theory and all that stuff comes later, once you already know how to play the song. :)
    What is your learning style? Do you learn songs by ear? From sheet music? Youtube videos?
    Jhengsman and chaak like this.
  4. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    My advice is to listen to a lot of funk that has bass lines you like. Internalize those grooves. Play along with them. You should be good to go after that.
  5. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Ear and sheet music, but these two take a while (and im very patient) and I go on youtube if i struggle to get it accurate,

    I have managed to figure out the bass of a metal song just by listening (and fyi, a lot of metal bass is hard to hear so Im lucky I have good ears but shaky hands lol), just funk and groove seem different as compared to metal which has a different definition of clean and having everyone's tone work in harmony, being more clear is a real changer for me
    hintz, 123Nil and Mushroo like this.
  6. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Hmm alright, do you ever worry about accidentally making your parts too complex that is sounds like a mess, or that it's simple, yet a little too simple? I just have a weird, paranoid based mindset (thanks guitarist for years of "bass jokes" :crying:)
  7. Sergius Durante

    Sergius Durante

    May 21, 2019
    Should I worry about equipment? I mean no biggie while a bass can play nearly anything (pbass for example) but I'd imagine it being weird tone and soundwise using something like a Bc rich Warlock, a Dean razor bass or a Warwick vampyre bass for funk (strange examples, but I mean weird basses in terms of sound, as well as intention of use, these being metal, while maybe something like the Peavey cirrus, fender j and pbass, musicman stingray, and other old school brands excel in this genre of music)

    I use a schector Stiletto studio five in honey maple (or something like that) with emg 40hz (they are okay I suppose, beefy but not clarity at times) and a Mesa boogie subway d800
    HolmeBass likes this.
  8. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I only worry about being too complex if there's a producer in the room. With funk, simplicity is good. The whole idea is to know with your own ears whether it sounds like a mess, or not. If you accomplish something complex well, stay with the groove, and compliment the song being played, you should have no problem. The hardest part about funk is the groove. The thing is, if you listen to it enough, that feel will just happen when you play.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    comatosedragon and Groove Doctor like this.
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Funk is all about how you interact with the drummer. A revelation to me early on was focusing more on leaving holes for the snare, rather than only on locking with the kick like in rock music.
    2tonic, Paulabass, TerenceE and 6 others like this.
  10. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I think it's less about the notes and more about using dynamics and articulation to shape the phrasing. Don't be afraid to 'play the rests'.
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Please don't worry about equipment. You can play funk on anything, including a B. C. Rich.

    edencab, ahc, RiffwRiter and 6 others like this.
  12. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    Listen to The Meters, what George Porter Jr is doing is not complicated. It's all about the groove.
  13. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    "funk style bass" ???? just play with your edge on it.

    Robert Trujillio plays finger style here (maybe a little smacking here and there) but the funk is more about the groove.

    Here's someone doing a nice cover

  14. Funky Ghost

    Funky Ghost Translucently Groovy

    Funk and groove can be interpreted very differently by different bass players, and that's a wonderful thing. It can be dripping with effects ( Bootsy ) or strictly finger funk ( Roco ) Slap-a-rific ( Mark Adams ) to sparse and groovy ( Andrew Levy ).

    It helps to just listen and absorb for awhile, at least it was for me being mostly an ear learning person. I just eventually started to get a feeling of what went where or what was coming when I deep dove into a particular player. After while I'd start over with another player and ended up getting a decent mental map of bits I gravitated towards and could throw into my own interpreted lines.

    If you're not familiar you can delve into folks who are metal players who infuse a lot of funk aspects into their playing. Dave Hollingworth is a monster.

    Working on chops and muscle memory I like to toss up beats off of YouTube and riff over them. Sometimes it's a hot mess and other times I wish I had recorded it :)
    Clark Dark likes this.
  15. Funky Ghost

    Funky Ghost Translucently Groovy

    Excellent advise. Andrew Levy of the Brand New Heavies is a groove oriented player who is the master of funky space.
  16. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    I feel like I'm in the same position. With metal and rock, the rhythm just makes sense. With funk it seems like the notes just come at odd times and weird places.
    123Nil and Sergius Durante like this.
  17. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    Listening to any of the following might help:

    Living Color
    Mother's Finest
    Stevie Salas
    Buddy Miles
    Dan Reed Network
    Bad Brains
    24-7 Spies
    Audioslave/Rage Against the Machine

    Sly and the Family Stone and P-Funk can also help (compare the RHCP Stevie Wonder cover).

    FWIW, I played inna few bands of that style (altho' on guitar). The key thing for me on rhythms was to find and always hit the stress (at least at first). Usually (but not close to always), it's on the "1". And i mean, on the one ...
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    dbbltime and Vinny_G like this.
  18. Focus on one funk bassist, learn a handful of their tunes,& you’ll absorb a LOT of the subtleties rather quickly.

    GPJr from The Meters

    PizzaFiend, eJake and Funky Ghost like this.
  19. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    3CBB66F4-540F-4CBD-9B48-BE58604992EC.jpeg Bottom line is, you have to do you homework, which means starting at the source. Buy this book.
    mambo4, NathOBX, downunder and 3 others like this.
  20. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Don't give up the one. Ever.
    J-Mags, NathOBX, downunder and 13 others like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 1, 2021

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