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BASS LINES BY JAIME VAZQUEZ: THE SIXTEENTH-NOTE GROOVE PART V – GARY WILLIS’ STYLE…Hello bass players and fans of bass playing! This is Part v! Dedicated to the American bass player, composer, instructor, author of amazing books for the bass guitar and BMM colleague, “Gary Willis!” Known for his work with Tribal Tech, Garsed/Helmerich, Allan Holdsworth, Dennis Chambers, Wayne Shorter, and his powerful solo projects. I would recommend to study his breathtaking technique and his approach for soloing and grooving! For me, it’s a great honor to show some of Gary Willis’ sixteenth-note grooves.  Remember! Willis uses 5 string basses, so I have adapted some bass lines for a 4 string bass using standard, Drop D and Low B tunings. Let’s groove with Willis! For more information about Gary Willis you may visit

Fig. 1 – Black Cherry
Listen to Black Cherry

Standard Tuning (E-A-D-G) 

This is a groove with a ballad feel for the guitar solo. Notice the use of double stops using the octaves and the muted notes(very common techniques used by Willis). Also, there are hammer-ons, pull-offs and rests.
Fig. 2 – Dense Dance
Listen to Dense Dance

Standard Tuning (E-A-D-G)

An adapted one chord vamp(Cm) groove for a 4 string bass. This is a good example of a linear groove using the root. There are a lot of muted notes for a percussive sound and some rests for space.

Fig. 3 – Slidin’ Into Charlisa
Listen to Sliding Into Charlisa 

Drop D Tuning (D-A-D-G)

The funky groove for the guitar solo is a 3/4 time signature with a triplet dotted 16th. Check out the palm muting (P.M.) in the bass fill. This is a trademark on Willis’ playing. There are muted notes, tied notes and rests.
Fig. 4 – Canine
Listen to Canine 

Drop D (D-A-D-G) 

A very cool intro played in a triplet dotted 16th feel. The groove is full of muted notes, rests and some tied notes. It sounds tight!

Fig. 5 – Face First 

Low B (B-E-A-D) 

The main groove for the keyboard solo section. Here we have an example of a linear groove over a one chord vamp(Am7). Also, we have muted notes, tied notes and rests.

Fig. 6 – Nite Club
Listen to Nite Club 

Low B (B-E-A-D) 

This is the amazing groove for the interlude. Be careful with the use of palm muting and the vibrato. There’s chromaticism, a slide out downwards and lots of rests.

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