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BASS LINES BY JAIME VAZQUEZ: THE SIXTEENTH-NOTE GROOVE PART IV – Rocco Prestia’s STYLE… Hello BMM and Community! I know that you’ve been waiting for the Master of Fingerstyle Funk and one of the most influential figures in electric bass history and here it is! Rocco Prestia, the american bassist of the legendary soul/funk group Tower of Power. For Prestia’s bass sound, you’ve got to lightly mute the strings with your left hand to get a percussive sound and be prepared for a highly inventive melodic approach to bass lines. For the examples, I’ve choosed an excerpt groove from different albums. You will notice that Rocco’s playing is so energetic, rhythmic, melodic, percussive, aggressive, tight, etc. What else can I say? Is Mr. Prestia’s time! So, let’s go to the grooves and learn from the best!

Fig. 1 – The main riff of You Got To Funkifize, the first song from the second album called Bump City (1972). Notice the use of octaves and chromatic approaches to the groove. Simple but very tight!

Listen to: You Got to Funkifize

Fig. 2 – The basic groove of What Is Hip from the albumTower Of Power (1973). This bass line is a good example of a fingerstyle funk groove using only the root. The game with the octaves at the last bar creates a very interesting fill.

Listen to: What is Hip

Fig. 3 – This is the main line of Squib Cakes from the fourth album Back To Oakland (1974). Play this melodic groove in unison with the baritone saxophone. Prestia used staccato, octaves and rests for a full bass attack! Make sure to play the cool chromatic approach fill at the last bar.

Listen to: Squib Cakes

Fig. 4 – An excerpt of Ebony Jam from the album In The Slot (1975). Enjoy this interaction with the band in a very melodic groove with the use of rests, octaves and chromatic approaches.

Listen to: Ebony Jam

Fig. 5 – The groove of Soul With A Capital “S” (1993) is definitely an example of Rocco’s playing. Here we have the application of accented notes, muted notes, tied notes and chromtaic approaches.

Listen to: Soul with a Capital_S

Fig. 6 – Souled Out (1995), a very cool bass line using slides, muted notes, stacatto, octaves, chromatic approaches and tied notes. Notice the emphazise at the 4th beat of bars 1 & 2, the idea is to create a sense of repetition of the groove.

Listen to: Souled Out



  1. Christian Stewart

    August 1, 2012 at 8:55 am

    This article about the groove on the Rocco Prestia’s style is so good. I would say here you have what you need to start creating your own style. Groove everywhere Rocco Prestias is the bass player of one of the most powerful ever bands Tower of Power . This things are so hard to get it by ear. Thank you Jaime Vazquez for this article. Im also studding your Jaco Pastorius seccioon wich is very good.

  2. Frank

    August 4, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Just wanted to write to say I’m loving your 16th Note Groove series. Really great, fun stuff. This series of articles is solid gold. Thank you.

  3. Scott

    August 21, 2012 at 5:54 am

    I agree! Rocco is the MASTER!

  4. Alex

    August 29, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Simply the BEST!

  5. La Jossy

    September 1, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Rocco is the BEST and the Master of the sixteenth-note groove! A legend! Souled Out is very challenging! Thank you very much for the audio examples, without them I could not figure it out. Keep the great work with the sixteenth-note series, is the best!

  6. Marcos Ayala

    September 3, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Saludos MASTER OF THE BASS!!! Thank for your lessons!!! Thank you for EBONY JAM!!! The audio examples are a great reference for learning!!! YOU’RE THE BEST!!!

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