How To Easily Create Catchy Grooves On Bass


When we are thinking about creating groove on bass, the first thing we need to realize is that it´s not about quantity of used notes. Good groove is all about rhythm. On the following lines I will show you simple exercise which I do with my students and which effectively develops their creative skills.

One of many ways how to make your playing sounds better is by using so called “dead notes”. We create them by not pushing the string by fretting hand but only by touching it. The purpose is not to play clean tone but some sort of percussive tone. In standard notation you can recognize these notes by symbol “X”.

Let´s take one bar and play only eight notes. Right now we can play only one tone, which will be D – 5th fret on the A string. The most important here is to be 100% familiar with rhythm.

Now we will use this simple straight bass line to create many great sounding grooves by adding dead note. Choose randomly four from these eight notes and instead of playing D note, play the dead note. By using this idea we can create many combinations. Let´s take a look for some of them.

Example No.1

In this example we put dead notes on position 2,3,6 and 8.

Example No.2

In this example we put dead notes on position 1,2,6 and 7.

Example No.3

In this example we put dead notes on position 3,4,6 and 8.

Take your time and continue with creating dozens of other rhythmic combinations. We chose four dead notes as an example but you can change its amount, of course. Try also combinations with three or five dead notes.

Now when we created rhythmic concepts, we can add some other notes to make our groove more interesting. Let´s say that we will use notes from Dmaj7 chord. These notes are D, F sharp, A, C sharp.

I will use example No.1 to demonstrate it, but you can use other or your own examples. After putting notes from Dmaj7 chord to the rhythmic concept, we will get this:

We can create tons of other combinations with this idea. It is not necessary to put these notes in this particular order. We can put notes from the chord randomly. It is also not necessary to use all the notes from the certain chord. See the next example:

How to practice it?

  1. Create some groove on your own using the process which is described above.
  2. Choose one groove and learn it to play at very slow tempo first.
  3. When you get more familiar with the groove, increase the speed. Play the one bar groove still round and round. The great thing how to feel the groove more intensely is by playing it with backing drums or at least with metronome.
  4. If you are ok with one bar grooves, begin to think about more difficult combinations. Choose two or more different chords and use each one of them in one bar, example: one bar Dmaj7, next bar A7.

That´s it! Now you now how to create tons of new ideas on bass, which can be used in songs or for jamming. The more time you will practice this exercise, the better ideas will come to your mind.

Take your time, enjoy a lot of fun and create some killer grooves!

About the author: Tom Sklenar is the professional bass player and the owner of the Guitar School of Chropyne (Škola kytary Chropyně), Czech republic.