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Bass Lines With Jaime Vazquez: Groove Variations Part I (One Chord Vamp)

Meet Jaime Vazquez –

Hello Everyone! We’re finally at the end of the year 2010! Thanks for all your support to BMM! We’re here for you!

We all know that repetition is a great tool and a standard for grooving. But hey! We can make some cool variations to our grooves without losing the idea and the essence of the rhythm section.

For this month, we will focus on something very common on great bass lines called the one chord vamp. You will find this on many classic songs. The one chord vamp gives you a lot of room for bass fills. So, it is the perfect moment to show your stuff. But always take care to not overplay. Remember, play for the song!

Figure 1a. Here we have the verse from a James Brown classic called Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine. The bass groove is courtesy of the amazing William “Bootsy” Collins. He always shows great maturity in his playing!

Figure 1b. This is the verse variation. On both grooves, there are a lot of eight notes, sixteenth notes and rests. See how the grooves have changed at the end of every bar. They’re known as bass fills. Don’t forget the rests, silence is musical too.

Figure 2a. The Top 10 Cissy Strut, by The Meters. This groove utilizes a swung sixteenth note feel with tension notes which provides contrast.

Figure 2b. Here’s the variation of the same groove but with more tension notes. Remember to accentuate the swing feel.

Figure 3a. Low Rider is a great example of an eight notes groove. A very cool song from the American funk band called War.
In this groove, we have slides, muted notes and hammer-ons, etc.

Figure 3b. The variations are at the end of the groove. This is common while grooving. The idea is to keep the essence of the main groove and ad some cool fills at the end. This will catch the attention and give you more colors and flavor to your grooves.

Figure 4a. Now let’s groove with Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers). This is the great groove from their hit By the Way. The interlude is based on Dm, Flea establishes the groove with eight notes at the beginning of every bar then he moves with a sixteenth note feel with hammer-ons and muted notes.

Figure 4b. Take care with the timing because the groove is very syncopated and aggressive. Note that he plays with a sixteenth note feel with hammer-ons and muted notes and he ends the groove with some tension notes.

When grooving over a one chord vamp, try rhythmic variations, emphasize the chord notes and combine them with chromatic passing tones (tension notes). Also, you can use ghost or muted notes, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, double stops, slap, etc. Play for the music style, if you are playing funk play funk and always locked up with the rhythm section. Happy Holidays!



  1. Jose Valentin

    December 15, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Excelente columna, Jaime!!!

  2. Christian Stewart

    December 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    nice… the grooves samples you use are the most cool and aproppiate to explain what you want.
    merry Christmas to all.

  3. Louis

    December 16, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for all your bass tips MAESTRO! Trust me! I will apply this to my bass playing! Keep the awesome work! Have a wonderful 2011!

  4. Owen

    December 20, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Amazing lesson as always! I noticed that you will be playing Live at Winter NAMM 2011 with Eminence speakers… I will be there! Happy Holidays Jaime!

  5. Danny Erick

    December 20, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Agree with Christian Stewart, Just perfect! Very Cool!! Greetings!

  6. Luis Soler

    December 21, 2010 at 2:34 am

    Great Grooves, they are awesome!! Greetings

  7. james

    December 21, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Jaime can not only teach the proper approach on playing funk bass, but I have just witnessed him doing it live at the recent Mayaguez Jazz Fest in Puerto Rico. Right On man!!!

  8. Mariaya

    December 21, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Una leccion para nunca olvidar. Gracias por tus consejos y ensenanzas…Eres sin duda el mejor!

  9. Steve The Funky Dude!

    December 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Merry Christmas Jaime! I love your examples! Thank you for a Great Lesson! Groove RULES!

  10. Omar Javier

    December 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    es unos de los mejores bajistas que e conosido, su temple y conosimiento es unico…
    Jamas a su calidad de persona que uno encuantra en el… Estoy agradadecido de la
    oportunidad de cocar junto a el Exito!

    Saludos Omar Javier’s Trio Band

  11. Stephanie Roche

    December 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Excelente e interesante trabajo Jaime! Eres un excelente músico y columnista. Te deseo mucho éxito y que Dios siga bendiciendo tu vida!

  12. Nik West

    December 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Hey wonderful idea!…now I all we need is the video for this music. AWESOME!

  13. Dave

    December 31, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Jaime hi..

    Great bit of info for bass players… Good advice to anyone that plays bass. You make it all sound so easy :-). Cool that you have shared this with others!.. Keep up the fantastic work and all the best for 2011!!

  14. Elizabeth

    December 31, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Waoooo love your music, you are an amazing musician keep up the awesome work and keep us inform of your next move all the best for 2011. Love your friend Liz 🙂

  15. Heymond Delgado

    January 7, 2011 at 5:56 am

    Exelente artículo Jaime, aunque soy guitarrista estos ejemplos me van a ayudar mucho en la tecnica.

  16. Daniel

    February 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Tremendo Jaime! Tuve la oportunidad de verte tocar en estos dias en Ventana la Jazz en el Condado! Tremendo sonido en el bajo y la ejecucion increible! Exito!

  17. Marcos Ayala

    September 13, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Amazing job! Now you have changed the way that I’m playing for GOOD! Thank YOU!

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