Bass Guitar Licks - “Slides, Barres and More” From Chris McCarvill

By Chris McCarvill

This little pattern here goes though quite a few techniques in a short amount of time. There’s a lot going on, so break this into pieces and work on the parts that you struggle with more than the easy parts until this thing sounds nice, even and uniform. Here’s a brief lowdown on how this type of thing came about.

Over the years I’ve paid a lot of attention to the comments I get after a show or when someone listens to a recording of mine. More than once people have thought I play fretless bass. I do, and I can, but most of the time I don’t. I’ve found that I get the most positive and enthusiastic feedback from something that to me seemed obvious from the beginning. Music should imitate vocals. I tend to create bass lines, parts and melodies that tend to mimic the way a singer would approach it.

Now, I realize if you’re new to bass this seems a little unorthodox, but check it out. Singers tend not to jump from note to note in a jerky, awkward way (unless they’re using the ol’ pitch corrector contraption). They tend to execute their notes smoothly in a flowing kind of way. I adopted that attitude to bass very early on because I sang quite a bit as a little kid.

Ok Kids, back to the lesson. Let’s break it down. The beginning starts with a slide up to the 7th fret of the E string. If you need help with the slidey parts, go check out the Beginner Lick Challenge. It covers slides in more detail. So, we slide up to the 7th fret of the E string using our pinky. Then we play the 5th fret of the A string (easy because your hand will be in position to do that). Now, back to your pinky for the 7th fret of the E string, but now we’re at a tricky section. The next note in this rapid-fire deal is a 7th fret on the A string. How do we get there and back to the 7th fret of the E string quickly and efficiently?

Audio (Intermediate Lick Challenge)

It’s called Barring Ladies and Gentlemen. Hold that note on the 7th fret of your E string. Now while you’re still holding your pinky down, straighten out your pinky a little so that you can push down on the 7th fret of the A string somewhere on or near your first knuckle on that same pinky. Cool, huh? It can hurt a lot if you push it too hard though. Get enough pressure on it to fret the note cleanly and quickly, then transfer pressure back to your pinkytip. I think I made a new word there. Whatever. Just put pressure back on the tip of your pinky so you can play that note on the 7th fret of your E string again.

Now that you can barr a note, try it in other places on the neck. It’s cool, and it should work for all of your fingers.

Moving on, the riff does almost the exact same thing only now we’re up on the A and D strings. Remember to take your time and only play this as fast as you can play it PERFECTLY.

The riff then does a useful little minor pentatonic thing where you slide up from the 7th fret of the D string to the 9th fret, smack that little note on the 7th fret of the G string using your first finger, then pluck the note on the 9th fret of the D string and slide your whole hand back down over the 5-7 fret area.

Here we have a fast hammer-on/off. Pluck the note on the 5th fret of the D string. Quickly hammer on the note with your left hand only using either your 3rd or 4th finger (or both), quickly get them off of there and the note should still be ringing out back on your 1st finger on the 5th fret. Got it? Excellent. Try this all over the place too. It’s a fun little firecracker kind of thing.

This riff ends with a simple played series of notes and we’re finished. The tricky part is getting this smooth and even. It’s a great way to practice several techniques, Sliding, Barring, Hammering and more all in one exercise. Have fun with it!

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