Watch the Focus On: Reggae Bass online guitar lesson by Andrew Ford from Focus On: Reggae Bass
Welcome to Focus on Reggae Bass. Playing reggae just brings a smile to my face. Of all the different styles of music I play, I must say that reggae is the most fun. I enjoy something about each style but there is just something about the simplicity of reggae but it also has great depth. It allows you to explore deep melodic grooves while still being that rock solid foundation that drives the band. Bass and drums are primarily the rhythm, or riddim as it is often called, that are the heart of reggae music. By using space, rhythm, and melody the role of bass in reggae offers a unique freedom of expression. There are no hard and fast rules of playing reggae bass, as a matter of fact, it is probably the one instrument in reggae that has the most freedom from rules. You can play on beat 1 or avoid it, use a chordal based line, scale based, root-fifth or just one note. You can be sparse, a bit more notey, swing or play straight, or any number of other combinations. The song will determine what fits, you are often creating counter melodies, possibly the reason why many reggae bass players were also good songwriters and or singers, they were good with melodies.
There are so many concepts and techniques within reggae bass that make this playing style special. Some of the ones we will cover in this course are the swing feel, triad-based lines, root-5th lines, minor grooves, walking lines, amp settings, speaker combinations, hand positions, right hand thumb technique, muting, slurs, laying back in the groove, and so much more. This course will also explore the roots of reggae bass which include ska and rock steady styles. In section 2 I will demonstrate how to apply reggae style bass to other styles of music influenced by reggae such as british ska rock type grooves, also pop, jazz, and R&B influenced reggae. Finally in the last section we will put it all together and perform 4 different essential reggae feels where you can apply the techniques and concepts covered in the previous sections. If you are just discovering this style I think you will find it one of the most fun styles to play, simple yet challenging, melodic yet foundational, motif based but not boring, and when you lock into that special groove it's like a little slice of heaven. Okay, get your bass out and let's get started having some fun exploring reggae.