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Dead Notes – Put Some Life Into Your Bass Playing



It’s a funny contradiction to say so, but when you work to put dead notes into your bass lines you can add quite a bit of life to your playing.

With a little bit of consistent practice these dead notes, phantoms of the bass world, will bring finesse to your approach as well as added skill for articulating the more difficult rhythms. 

Ghost notes, dead notes, choke notes, muted notes – whatever you want to call them, I think that most players will remember that “wow” feeling when they first heard their favorite bassist tossing off a complex volley of phrases peppered with various degrees of muted funkiness. 

It can become an obsession to get some of that dead-note sophistication into your own playing. Good times!! 

The purpose of the lesson today is to give seeking bass players a solid start on getting these rhythmic muted gems into your playing and to also give some ideas on how to put these things into a musical context. 

LESSON: Dead Notes – Put Some Life Into Your Bass Playing

Before getting started, please click the orange button below to sign up for the download materials. There is a nice cache of mp3 audio play-along files and pdf charts of exercises and bass lines from the video lesson.


First of all, let me say that I believe when a bassist reaches a certain level of skill there must be a conscious effort put into the further development of musical expression – bass expression. 

It might be claimed that musical expression can be taught in one course for all instruments, but there a number of instrument specific things that can be done to smartly widen bass expression and that is what this lesson represents if only because these things do slot out on the bass guitar in a particular way. 

On the one hand, if you are listening to James Jamerson or Monk Montgomery you won’t ever go wrong with that.

But there are also the subtle aspects of musical expression that you don’t necessarily assimilate unless you drill down on the exact materials and methods. And the particular forms of expression that have always been difficult for bass guitar players are the dynamics and the sneaky articulations called dead or ghost notes. 

Aside from all of the harmonic materials that you can and should be studying, one of the best things that you can do for your playing is to subject any of your bass lines or solo materials to a solid regimen of dynamics: crescendos, decrescendos, natural dynamics, reverse-natural dynamics and my favorite: accent exercises. 

In the video lesson I demonstrate two related exercises that you can take straight to the bank if you really want to transform your expression-level on the bass. When you want to add some serious snap to your playing, nothing will get you the bang for your buck like accent exercises. 

A simple introduction to accent exercises is always the best way forward.

In the video lesson, I play a G major scale from the third fret, root up to the ninth and back. It slots out in the measure perfectly and will help you maintain concentration on the dynamics alone. Now all you need to do is start adding some accents. 

But the first thing to do every time you start this accent exercise is to play up and back a couple of times with the lowest dynamic level that you can muster while still retaining your technique. 

That’s what I call “benchmarking” your dynamics.

Play it flat, legato and pianissimo. Now, when you are ready for some fun then start banging out accents. Oh, glory day – this is where the rubber meets the road!! 

You will probably want to tear your hair out when you start for the first time, but most people will be able to gain a palpable measure of success even in the first couple of practice sessions. No worries, these exercises deliver incredible results. Just make sure that when you accent a note to take great care to “feather” the note after it. This way you will be able to develop great dynamics and an easy authority in your playing. 

When a bassist works to play lines with widely varying accents it really makes the line pop.

It is such an interesting and gratifying area of study. It is challenging but it is also a very straightforward proposition for getting excellent results fast. Again, it won’t take you more than a few short weeks to start getting results. 

For the dead-note exercise in the video lesson I simply play up and down the aforementioned G major scale with each note choked down as far as I could – that’s all. I concentrate specifically on muting the note with the next available finger. 

For you three-finger fanatics – I am with you, but in this study, I only use index and middle fingers.

And it is an added measure of difficulty if you can alternate index-middle with middle-index to practice that little bit of extra flexibility in your muting technique. 

One of the angles to take on these studies is that for the bass guitar specifically, the accent itself is a kind of obverse ghost note. They aren’t necessarily mirror images. They are related to each other in the world of dynamics and articulation and in the greater world of musical expression. 

My resolute claim is that if you work on accent studies then your abilities with playing dead-notes will increase dramatically. 

And take note that in the video lesson I also mention something that I consider a great secret: that the accent studies bring forward the crucial skill of getting your hands to work together so that you can truly “cut the string”. But that’s another story. 

I hope that all of you fellow bass people have enjoyed the lesson today. It is part of my own long journey to self-expression as a musician and I offer it up to you with a sincere desire to help in broadening your own approach to playing. 

Happy practicing and best of luck to all of you. 

Thanks for stopping in. 

Check out more of my bass lessons here

Bass Edu

BASS LINES: Triads & Inversions Part I



Jaime David Vazquez - Lessons For Bass Guitar

Triads & Inversions Part I

Hello bass players and bass fans! In this issue, we are going to study the triads and their inversions.

It is very important for all bassists to understand and master the triads, but it is even more important to understand their different inversions.

In Part I, we are going to learn what the triad is in fundamental position.

The Formula consists of root, third and fifth.

Degrees of the Triad

Major Triad: 1 – 3 – 5
Minor Triad: 1 – b3 – 5
Diminished Triad: 1 – b3 – b5
Augmented Triad: 1 – 3 – #5

Fig.1 – The C, Cm, Cdim & Caug triads
(Fundamental Position)

BASS LINES: Triads & Inversions Part I
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Bass Edu

Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice’s Bassist Lewis Bridges – From the Album, Grotesque



Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice's Bassist Lewis Bridges - From the Album, Grotesque

Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice’s Bassist Lewis Bridges – From the Album, Grotesque

Bassist Lewis Bridges Shares…

“Gruesome’s sparse intro marks a stark contrast from the intensity of the rest of the album.  The original intention was to keep the bass simple but colourful, however as I worked on it, the lines grew more expressive and the more striking flourishes began to emerge.  The intensity builds into a harmonic minor passage that takes us into the drop — a signature death grind cacophony.  This is where Foetal Juice thrives.  You’re getting a full-on right-hand barrage to in the face to take you into a groove-laden mulch-fest.

I owe my throbbing bass tone to the Darkglass Alpha Omega pedal borrowed from our sound engineer, Chris Fielding (ex-Conan), mixed with the clarity of the tried and true Ampeg SVT CL.

As mentioned earlier, colourful basslines are important, especially in a one-guitar band. Chucking some funny intervals and odd flourishes here and there brings life into the brutality. There’s no point sounding brutal if it’s not gonna be fucking evil too!

Recording this playthrough was hard work. This was not the fault of James Goodwin (Necronautical), who was kindly filming and is ace to work with, but because in true Foetal fashion, we had stinking hangovers — and that jam room was hot!”

Follow Online

FB @FoetalJuice
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Youtube: @Foetaljuice

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Bass Edu

Bass Lines: The Circle



jaime Vazquez

Bass Lines: The Circle…

Hello bass players and fans of bass! This month we’re going to study “The Circle.”

The Circle of Fourths can also be called “The Circle of Fifths or just The Circle.

Practicing the scales, chords, and ideas in general via the circle has been a common practice routine for jazz musicians and highly recommended.

It is a disciplined way of working through all twelve keys.

Plus, many bass root movements to jazz and pop songs move through sections of the circle.

Fig. 1 – “The Circle”

See you next month for more full bass attack!

#bassmusicianmag, #basslines, #bmmbasslines, #groovemaniac, #thecircle, #thecircleoffourths, #thecircleoffifths,#scales & #chords.

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Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 5



James Rosocha

Continuing our lesson of Approach Notes, Part 5…

In continuing with the concept of approach notes being applied to chord tones, this lesson approaches the root, third, fifth, and seventh degree of each arpeggio inversion by incorporating a double chromatic approach from above, and a single chromatic approach from below. 

The first examples approach the root of a G major 7th arpeggio as a double chromatic from above and a single chromatic approach from below -before continuing to the third, fifth, seventh, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the root, continue to the third, fifth, and come back down.

The next example approaches the first inversion of G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the third, continue to the fifth, seventh, root, double chromatic from above/ single below to the third, continue up to the fifth and seventh, and back down.

The third example approaches a second inversion of a G major arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the fifth, continue to the 7th, root, 3rd, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the 5th, continue to the 7th, root, and back down. 

This final example approaches a third inversion of a G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above and below approaches the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, 5th, double chromatic from above and below to the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, and back down.

Be sure to pace yourself with these lessons to avoid burning out.

Being overly ambitious with your practice schedule can lead to unrealistic expectations. Try learning one approach note concept and one chord type a week. Change your practice routine as necessary and tailor it to your needs as a musician. Good luck!

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES – The Blue Notes (Minor Blues Scale)



jaime Vazquez

Hello bass players and bass fans! Happy New Year 2024!

In this issue, we are going to study the blue notes.

In blues, jazz, and rock, a blue note is a note that (for expressive purposes) is sung or played at a slightly different pitch from standard. Typically the alteration is between a quartertone and a semitone, but this varies depending on the musical context.

The blue notes are usually said to be the lowered third(b3), lowered fifth(b5) and lowered seventh(b7) scale degrees. The lowered fifth(b5) is also known as the raised fourth(#4). Though the blues scale has “an inherent minor tonality, it is commonly ‘forced’ over major-key chord changes, resulting in a distinctively dissonant conflict of tonalities”.

Blue notes are used in many blues songs, in jazz, rock and in conventional popular songs with a “blue” feeling.


The A Minor Blues Scale

1 – b3 – 4 – (#4/b5) – 5 – b7

A – C – D – (D#/Eb) – E – Bb

The grades(blue notes):

b3, (#4/b5), b7

C, (D#/Eb), Bb

See you next month for more full bass attack!

#bassmusicianmag, #basslines, #bmmbasslines, #groovemaniac, #thebluenotes, #minorbluesscale & #bluesscale

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