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Watch the Blues Forever: Rhythm Embellishments online guitar lesson by John Goldsby from Upright Bass Handbook

Rhythmic embellishments add rhythmic movement to your basslines. These rhythms are generated from the right hand, with the help of the left hand for certain muting techniques.

Now let's look at the mechanics of how the hands move. Example 1 shows four typical rhythmic embellishments that double bass players like to use. Examples 1 and 2 play notes on the G string with the right hand index finger, and so-called "dead notes" on the D string. The dead notes are played by muting the string with the index finger and plucking with the middle finger. Examples 3 and 4 show a "drop," which typically goes from high to low. We can either play a drop like in Example 3, with all notes sounding, or we can mute the notes, as we see in Example 4.

Example 4 shows a triplet drop which uses left hand muting. This gives a very percussive sound. I pluck the first note (Bb) with my right hand index finger, and then rake down the G, D, and A strings with my middle finger. I mute the middle two notes of the triplet with my left hand. Once you're comfortable with the movements of these rhythmic embellishments, let's move on to the next lesson (Example 5), which incorporates all of the techniques in a 12-bar walking bassline.