How To Play Bass Guitar Rhythm

Posted by Mike Schuck

Now that you have learned how to play bass guitar in all three positions, it is time to move onto some rhythm! You have already mastered playing simple rhythms like one, two, one, two – but what about more complex ones?

Playing bass using rhythm is an excellent way to develop your music listening skills as well as technique. There are many types of bass lines and patterns that can be used in songs, so why not try making some of your own?

This article will go into detail on different bass pattern structures and how to practice them.

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Play along with a recording

how to play bass guitar rhythm

The next way to learn bass guitar rhythm is by listening to songs that feature bass guitar licks! There are many sites where you can listen to music easily, such as YouTube or Spotify.

Many people have recorded their own bass licks for different chords and same chord changes. By learning these solo licks, you will be able to replicate those notes and patterns on your bass!

These resources are great because you can practice at your own pace and re-record the parts until you get them right.

Practice with a metronome

A very efficient way to learn bass guitar rhythm is by using a tempo or timing marker. A common tool used for this are metronomes!

A metronome can help you achieve your goal of learning bass guitar rhythm quickly. All it requires is that you use it every time you practice, which should be daily if not constantly.

The easiest way to use a metronome in practicing is by setting the device at a steady rate and then marking the beats down as you play along. For example, set the timer to one-quarter note per beat and play a pattern.

Practice like this when the meter moves slowly so you have to keep up the same speed. As the pace quickens, you will need to adjust how fast you play. This will help ensure you do not lose momentum while also improving your stick accuracy.

Figure out your favorite patterns

how to play bass guitar rhythm

The next step in bass guitar rhythm is figuring out your pattern structure! There are two main things you will learn here. First, how to start each part of a pattern. Second, what types of patterns there are and which ones are most common for songs.

To start, choose any position on the neck where the bass can comfortably sit without getting too low. Then, pick an open string one or more strings higher than this first note. This high pitched tone will be your base line, or starting place, for the pattern.

Now, play all the notes that go along with the pattern just like normal practicing, but use these new rules instead. When lifting your hand off the fretboard to hit the base line, do not let it drop back down until three seconds have passed- this creates the triplet feel we talked about before.

And when hitting the second note of the pattern, make sure to pull up quickly and slowly as mentioned earlier. Also, after this second note, wait another three seconds before lowering your hands again.

This takes around ten minutes to get used to, so don’t worry if you struggle at first.

Practice positioning

how to play bass guitar rhythm

The next key element of bass guitar rhythm is knowing how to position your hands and feet for different patterns. When playing an arpeggio, for example, you will start with the index finger of each hand in position as shown here, then move down the string either one or two strings per pattern.

Once it reaches the second position, the middle fingers drop onto the third fret (or lower if using a pick) and the ring fingers go up to the fifth. You can also add shiftings, where the position shifts slightly between the notes. This adds variety to the song and helps develop your sense of timing.

Practice by simply moving your left foot forward or back and see what patterns you can make! There are many ways to learn this. Many musicians have YouTube videos that show step-by-step instructions for both beginner and advanced levels.

Know your chords

how to play bass guitar rhythm

Chords are one of the most fundamental parts of bass guitar playing. Once you have mastered the chord structure, choosing which chords to use in songs becomes much easier!

The first thing is to know what kind of chords you have. You have opened or closed major, minor, dominant, tonic, medio-dominant, and half (also known as harmonic) dominances. These terms may seem complicated, but they aren’t! They just refer to how some part of the bass line drops by a third, moves up a whole step, or adds a flat note.

You can start using these chords right away! For example, if you wanted to play a song with a main chord that goes like A then Bb over it, those two notes make an F#majoseconds later. That would be the F# major chord with a b3 added onto it!

There are many ways to learn this theory so don’t worry about that yet! What I will tell you though is that once you understand the basics of music theory, thinking about chords in relation to each other will become easy.

That way you won’t need to memorize all the different types of chords and their related shapes, lengths, and frequencies, which take time to master! To test yourself, try practicing both theories side by side and see which one seems more intuitive for you.

Learn the bass line

how to play bass guitar rhythm

The first thing you will need to do is learn the bass line! This can be done in several different ways, but one of our favorite methods is using a technique called chord-vocalizing.

Chord-vocoding simply means linking a note with a voice. For example, if your bass guitar has open strings that go “da da daa”, then your third string would be linked to the vocal part of the song. Your second fret would be linked to the tonic (or main) pitch, and your first fret would link to the pre-chorus or introduction part of the song.

This way, when you play those notes, it sounds like there are actual vocals supporting them! It also helps neutralize some of the lower frequencies in the music so that they more closely resemble an acoustic instrument.

To test this out, try playing the chords I mentioned before while singing the lyrics of the chorus of the song below.

Read music

how to play bass guitar rhythm

Music is one of the most universal languages in the world. There are many ways to learn how to play bass guitar rhythm, but no matter what method you choose, there’s one thing that everyone must have – a sound source!

You can use a piano, guitar, or any other type of instrument to learn bass guitar rhythm. Once you have your sound source, it is time to start reading music!

Reading music means going through notes and patterns as instruments are connected together. For example, if you want to know how to play double bass drum beats, you would read every note of the bass drum, then move onto the hi-hat, and so on until you get to a nice steady pattern.

This way, you will be able to match the correct notes with the right timing and speed! If you're more familiar with lead guitar than bass, don't worry about learning the bass part first - just focus on reading the chords and their rhythms.

There are several good resources for beginners to pick up the tabularbass clef, which helps identify the different lines (notes) within each bar.

Learn to sing along

how to play bass guitar rhythm

The next step in learning how to play bass guitar rhythm is to learn how to sing along with the music! This can be done by either using pitch matching or through tone matching. Pitch matching uses your voice as a source of note, whereas tone matching uses the voice as a tool to create a note.

Pitch matching is easier to do, but requires more practice. With pitch matching, you must first identify what key the song is in and then find the correct notes for that key. Once those are found, you simply have to use your vocal chords to match one of the notes to the chord being played.

Tone matching allows you to pick any part of the song that you want to use as a source of note sound.

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