Watch the Open String Pivot online guitar lesson by Andrew Ford from Motown Bass Survival Guide

Open string pivot notes can give a bass line that bouncy syncopated feel. These notes are meant to be heard and felt, unlike the notes in our next concept, which will only be felt. So, the use of these notes is relegated to chords or songs where the particular open string is diatonically appropriate. Let's see an example of this over a uptempo Police type reggae groove.

It's basically a four bar phrase all over E. As typical in this type of groove there is no beat 1 played for the bass, it actually doesn't come in until the "and" of 4 in bar 1. There we play the root, E, and a triad based riff using only the notes of the triad G#, B, and E. There's another bar of space in bar 3 again coming in on the and of 4 with a low E. Now bar 4 is where I demonstrate the open note pivot example 1. In this case, the pivot note will be E and it pivots to G#, then A#, and lastly B before resolving on the octave E. The note choices, and maybe even more so the rhythm in which this figure is played, need special attention so that it does not rush or drag.

Example 1 is an ascending line. Example 2 is a descending line using the same concepts. I'll pivot using the open E again, then descend from G# to G, to F# and back to E. Lots of possibilities with this concept to enhance bass parts and songs.