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Chicken Pickin’ on the Bass

In this article I’d like to share another area where I get a lot of inspiration for new slap ideas. In general I think it’s very advantageous to listen to great musicians of all styles and genres AND other instruments besides bass.

By getting ideas/approaches from other instruments other than bass you instantly step out of your “bass comfort zone” and it helps you look at the bass in a new fresh way.

I often will hear a piece of music, groove, lick or technique from any given instrument that I like and will try and play it on my bass. Sometimes it’s the actual notes or techniques or maybe just the feel or vibe. By doing so it always gives me a fresh perspective to the instrument.  It’s a “how can I do that on my bass?” approach.

A great source of inspiration for me in the past few years has been country/bluegrass guitar players, specifically the ones that use the “chicken pickin” and hybrid picking playing techniques. The sound of these techniques uses a lot of notes that are pulled away from the neck similar to the slap style of bass playing. Other common techniques used in the style are double stops, bends, open-hammer-pop, double popping, etc. As you can see there are a lot of similarities to both styles as far as techniques.

There are many great guitarists that play this style but I will name a few that I personally enjoy and that I would suggest checking out:

Brent Mason
Danny Gatton
Chet Atkins
Albert Lee
Johnny Hiland
Greg Koch (I actually did a CD with this guy and he’s a monster player)

I’ve included a video of me playing a sample from a song called “Fun Gus Among Us” that was inspired by listening to the chicken pickin’ style of playing. It’s played on my short scale piccolo bass which lends itself well to the guitar tones used in this style.
I also threw in some odd time passages for kicks!  LOL

Hopefully this will inspire you to create your own chicken pickin’ bass lines…YEE HAW!

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