This month we’re looking at a bassline that fascinated me as young bass student. It’s Basket Case from Green Day’s third album Dookie, released in 1994. It’s a typically upbeat and hook-filled track by the Californian band, and has gone on to become one of their best known hits. The bass is high in the mix, and as a 15 year old I just couldn’t see how Mike managed to pack in the fast root movement and fills at 175bpm whilst keeping it so on the beat.
The answer is in the subtleties of his articulation and technique. The hammer on and pull offs are really important, they give your picking hand a rest whilst keeping the eighth note movement pumping. They also lend a more melodic edge to the fills, as seen in bars 32 and 58. A Dirnt trademark often pops up in this tune too – the combination of octaves and hammer ons in bar 50. These pop up a lot in this album, once you’ve noticed them once you’ll hear them all the time.
Approach your picking like a guitarist would strum. Down on the beat, and up on the off beat.
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