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Pimp My Bassline!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Capt.Obvious, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. First time playing this kind of music, first time jamming with these guys and I have really have no idea what I'm doing. Blues/rock/funk? I don't even know what to call it. heh Yes I do miff a few notes but not my fault, I blame all the half naked groupies lounging about.

    My back ground is primarily jazz on the double bass and only vaguely have an idea of a funky bass line. I can't really slap sadly, so I need pointers and tips on funkifying my bass lines. There has to be a rule of thumb or something. Any guys I should be listening to that can rip this kind of music up?

    Apologize for the length of the recording and no video. I just left my Iphone recording in my pocket and it's surprisingly not a horrible recording.

    Thanks in advance TB!

  2. As no one has jumped on this here is my two cents. I do not play funk, but, I read a lot. ;) and I've spent a lot of nights at a Holiday Inn. LOL.

    The book The Worship Bass Book by Norm Stockton turned out to be much more than Praise and has a Funk session and some Funk vamps on the CD that is included with the book. The CD has groove tracks for:
    Swing eight notes
    Funk vamp
    Shuffled sixteen notes
    Hybrid vamp
    And then many offerings on slap.
    Some common chromatic examples in funk included:
    6 to b7
    b3 to major 3
    #5 to 6
    #4 to 5
    b5 to 4
    I found the book and CD to be of value. Funk is unique and you have to hear it. I'm sure Google could pull up some videos for you. Norm mentioned the following artists; Francis Rocco Prestia, Marcus Miller and Bootsy Collins.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  3. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Couldn't hear any audio in that clip.

    Well, you don't have to slap to be funky, although it's a style you might want to acquire some proficiency in, along the way. Fingerstyle funk can be totally killin'!

    It's more of a rhythmic conception--including the use of space in the lines.

    +1 to Malcolm's suggestion, above, to start by listening. If you play jazz your chops are certainly good enough to handle fingerstyle funk; what you need is to start learning the concept.

    I'd suggest listening to Jamerson on the Motown singles (of course), but also the early funk stuff from other places. IMHO, Tommy Cogbill's (I think it was him...) part on Aretha's version of Respect is a great study in note selection and rhythm.

    It's like the immersion approach to learning a second language. You can pick up a whole lot by listening.

    For more chops-oriented stuff, any Tower of Power with Rocco Prestia on it (most but not all of their catalogue) will be well worth the time. And early Blood, Sweat, and Tears with Jim Fielder.

    As for slap, Marlowe DK put out a very good instructional DVD. And Scott Devine had some nice lessons on his website.

    Hope that helps!
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  4. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    a lot of funk could be 'analyzed' as call and response between rhythm player doing that chinka chinka funky bit and then leaving a space for the bass to respond with a syncopated riff playing off that rhythm pattern to lead to the next rhythm player's call

    I'd take it from there and maybe just stick with rhythm pattern on the root to start
    build from there to target chord tones and approach to add some up/down/melodic interest -- octaves 7ths, 5ths and 10ths

    and then add simple longer notes during the rhythm player's chinks chinka bit as underlying support
    and poof you've got the whole pattern worked out and playing funk
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  5. Good stuff! I'll check that book out for sure, sounds like the old Jamey Abersold CD's I used to play with.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    For a jazz player, Jamerson and Rocco would be where I would start.
    SeamzKing and Capt.Obvious like this.
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Funk has less to do with slap and more to do with rhtyhm, space, off beats, note duration and heavy use of chromatic runs.

    I've written else where:
    Groove 101: Duck Dunn / 50's-60's Staxx
    Groove 102: George Porter Jr / The Meters
    Groove AP: James Jamerson

    I suppose slap 101 would be Larry Graham

    My definition of the 'pocket' is the space between the snare hits on 2 and 4.
    I think of those beats as the guard rails. I try to do my best to leave space for them.
    Eg, If I have a sustaining note I choke it at the very last moment before the snare hits.
    (not universally of course.)

    Based on what I could hear you aren't far off the mark. The one weakness I would call out is inconsitencey.
    Try to think in 2 or 4 bar patterns where the riff is restated consitently at each repeat. helps anchor things ,
    paradoxically freeing up the rest of the pattern for more experimentaion.

    Also, at 3:48 the guitarist begins the tune with a well defined riff.
    Steal that as jumping off point for the bass line and teh song will gain consitency.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  8. Cheers mate! More great suggestions. I'm not too stressed about not being able to slap really, just need some ideas for serious funkiness, which you all provided. Seems like popping that tonic on the 1, keeping the rock groove, then leaving a some space for some call and response play, and fill in the gaps with a few syncopated pops or chromatic runs in the right places. A syncopated 3rd or minor 7th seems to feel real good to me, in the right spots of course. I'm just scared, one of these gigs he's going to pull one of those, "Let's here it for our new bass player!" Then the spot light comes on for the bass solo, the entire band drops out to watch the new bass guy flounder. Ya' know, bass solo time. I should just go memorize some Bootsy Collins solo just in case heh.

    Or just learn this! Wonder if this is a fellow TB'er? He does a nice finger plucking motif towards the end.

  9. Awesome! Good advice, and thanks for the critique. That makes total sense. I figured like rock, we always want to drop the tonic on the 1 and then syncopate, but makes more sense to give the tune a nice anchor, to restate the groove more consistently. Was definetly experimenting the whole time, really trying to learn not only funk/blues/rock but learn it their way heh.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    From Jamerson to Rocco to Boosty, entire funk careers in have been built without a slap or pop.
    Slap to funk is like a distortion pedals to rock: A surface timbre rather than the substance.

    that said:
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  11. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Hey, no worry! Handle your solo as if it were a breakdown. Know how the typical breakdown starts simple (one part) and layers more parts (adding complexity) until everybody's back in?

    In your solo, start with a simple vamp figure. For a little contrast, do something other than what you've been playing through the song. It's funk, so there's gonna be some space, yeah? Add complexity with a fill, then maybe change the vamp figure a bit, another fill/step out, rinse and repeat as you will. End the solo with some kinda flourish while you eyeball cue the rest of the band to come back in.

    What to do for a flourish? Panic not! One note will do; bear down on it with 16th note triplets while you emote expressively for the crowd.

    Swearsies. It'll work.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  12. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    I like the tone in the video you linked, but IMHO it's not the funkiest thing in the world. It's exactly what it purports to be, which is a rock/funk groove reminiscent of Flea. To get funkier, you'd want to lay harder on the 1, and leave some breathing room for syncopation.

    I see an upright bass in your picture, so I'd add in some study of Stanley Clarke grooves as a great bridge from jazz to funk.

    In my book, there's no bassist funkier than Me'Shell Ndegeocello. Check out what happens when she picks up her bass 2:30 into this song. She makes me feel like a groove n00b; it's all about timing and placement and helped by subtle vibrato and great tone.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  13. That guy is a beast!

    But I agree about slappin', pretty much why I never tackled the skill.
  14. Gee thanks! That was incredibly emasculating. :(
  15. What's up with all the gloves?! I've seen a few bassist wearing em'. They look like latex exam gloves or something. Wth?
  16. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
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  17. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Scott Devine, ya mean? On his old web page he explained that had developed some kind of neurological disorder, and it helped if he couldn't see his bare fingers on the fretting hand.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  18. Didn't know about Devine but I've seen a few youtube videos with guys wearing them.

    *scratches head*
  19. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  20. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Lol, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. A jazz refugee myself, I've spent the last couple of years searching for 'da fonk'. I found myself a teacher (Lenny Stallworth of RH-Factor, among others) and we worked on a LOT of stuff (reading, general funkiness, how to analyze the important parts of a bassline quickly, etc). For me, it was a completely necessary revamp and resurfacing of how I approached the instrument and the *one downside* of my recent move to the area is that I can't study with Lenny any more. Doggone geographical limitations! Anyway, I digress...

    In a nutshell, mambo4's advice of
    "Groove 101: Duck Dunn / 50's-60's Staxx
    Groove 102: George Porter Jr / The Meters
    Groove AP: James Jamerson"

    is spot on. I would put Larry Graham as "Slap AP" myself, but that's neither here nor there. Check out this video:

    There's many good things to pick up on in there, but my big 'ah hah!' moment was "the funk is on the e's and the a's". Working on grooves with a metronome was also extremely helpful - put a single click on 'the 1', groove until it feels automatic, then shift the click around by a sixteenth note. Rinse and repeat until you can 'respect the click' on the same groove all over the bar-line.

    I suggest picking up a copy of Seventh String Software's Transcribe. It lets you take any MP3, loop sections of it, slow it down, isolate the bass part, change the key (CRAZY helpful when dealing with 'picky' singers), and all sorts of stuff.

    If you're just looking for material to steal licks from, I've mined this tune more often than I care to admit:

    That bass solo is decent, but I do believe the *flute* solo takes the cake on that tune ('I'll take "things musicians should never, ever say" for $1000, Alex'...). Needless to say, I was made to transcribe both and then play both in all 12 keys (thanks Lenny! :) )

    The keys for me (not that I'm not still working on these things pretty much every day...) were:
    * Take it slow (this is where Transcribe really helped me out)
    * Really LISTEN (with capital letters, a bolded L, and everything) to the tune. Put on your Big Ears. Be able to *write out* the line and have it 100% b*lls-on accurate, capturing all the nuances (slides, minor variations, etc)

    If your learning style is more reading-oriented (mine wasn't, but it became moreso the more comfortable I got with reading), check out these:
    Blues and Rhythm and Blues Bass Techniques (Jerry Jemmott)
    - Funk, especially the old-school stuff, has so much in common with the blues (just like rock n' roll, country, hip hop, etc etc ad nauseam). Jerry's book has a bunch of great nuanced blues and R&B lines, as well as turnarounds. LOTS of opportunity to 'funk it up' in the turnarounds (see: "the funk is on the e's and the a's" above)

    Standing In The Shadows of Motown (Dr. Licks)
    - If you want to play funk, IMHO, you need to study at the feet of Jameson. The transcriptions in this book cover it all - from straightforward tunes like "Don't Mess With Bill", middle of the road tunes like "How Sweet It Is", to towering bass opuses like "Bernadette" and "What's Going On". It can be challenging at times, but well worth the time to make the effort to go through it.

    Funkmasters - The Great James Brown Rhythm Sections (Dr. Licks)
    - The "other" James who is required reading for all funkateers.

    Unless you're a monster reading mo-fo, I wouldn't recommend getting all three books at once. Just get one, and tell yourself you'll buy another one as a reward for completely finishing the first :)
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