Bassology Lesson 1

Bassology Lesson #1

Paradiddles

A Paradiddle is a basic building block used in drumming, often referred to as a rudiment. The most basic paradiddle is often displayed as; R= Right Hand, L= Left Hand RRLR LLRL.

For the bass guitar player the paradiddle becomes an exercise in rhythm patterns consisting of thumps, plucks, slaps and finger flicks up or down. These patterns are often done over dead muted strings but sometimes notes are sounded in the rhythms to add a distinctive sound or quality much like playing on different drums. Paradiddles for bass have their roots in Funk; a rhythmic & percussive style of playing. Larry Graham started this style of playing and Victor Wooten, has taken it to an all new level. Paradiddles allow the bass player to condense the Funk style into simple patterns that will form the foundation for more complicated grooves. The best reason for practicing paradiddles is to help develop a good time feel so always practice them with a metronome.

To play the paradiddles on this page you need to become familiar with the notation used. Also remember to try to sound all the techniques with the same volume and overall sound. (I will be posting recorded examples of each of the paradiddles soon, so keep checking back for that update. )

T = Thump

Thumps are done with the thumb. Strike the string with your thumb, thump across the face of the string, striking the neck, catching some of the wood sound, and stop on the adjacent string. For instance thump the E string and then end resting on the A string.

P = Pluck

Plucks are done with the pointer and or the index finger by curling the finger and pulling up on the strings from underneath and letting the sting fly back. Use more wrist action than finger movement for the best technique. The index finger is labeled P1 and the middle finger is labeled P2. You may sometimes see P1 P2 . This indicates that the double pluck is needed. A double pluck is executed by positioning the middle finger directly behind the index finger with a definite distance maintained between them to allow for a time delay when plucking or raking both fingers on the same string in a rapid rhythmic pluck pluck. Again remember to use the wrist with stiffer fingers for the best results. Plucks are most often done with the outermost or highest string although other strings can be used.

SL = Slap

This sounds easy but is actually difficult to execute properly. The slap is just that, you slap the strings with your fretting hand, for right-handed players this would be your left hand. The slap can be done with all four fingers, thumb behind the neck. Open the hand and quickly close it resting on the strings to keep them from ringing. A sharp woody thud is best. It is often hard to get volume when slapping. The idea is to produce a sound that is as close to thumps and plucks as possible. Another technique is to use only three fingers of the left hand leaving the pointer finger resting across all four strings to deaden them.

Fd = Flick down

To flick down keep the fingers more straight and bend them using the knuckle closest to the palm and the knuckle in the middle of the finger to create a flicking action. Flick the string with the back of the fingernail with a grazing or almost strumming action. The flick down is almost always followed by a flick up.

Fu = Flick up

This is almost like a pluck but the starting position is different. Pull back on the string by closing the right hand across the string, not from underneath, using the very tip of your finger NOT the finger nail. It is almost the opposite of a flick down. Try doing the flick down first and the flick up to get the correct technique.

Playing paradiddles: After you get the feel of each pattern play them in a continuous loop and don't be afraid to experiment; come up with your own paradiddles. Remember to always use a metronome when you practice!

The “Bassic” Paradiddle: This is a four event pattern; four events occur before the pattern repeats. This four event pattern can correspond to 16th notes, 8th notes, quarter notes or triplets. Most of the time I practice these patterns with each separate 'event' corresponding to a 16th note.

T SL P SL [ Thump slap Pluck slap ]

Now repeat this phrase continuously:

T SL P SL T SL P SL T SL P SL T SL P SL T SL P SL T SL P SL T SL P SL, etc.

To make the comparison to drums more complete notice that the T SL P SL alternates between the right and left hand technique.

T SL P SL

Right Left Right Left

Expanded Paradiddles:The following paradiddles are 6 event patterns.

T SL T SL P SL

T SL P1 SL P2 SL

This is a 12 event pattern which is a combination of the two 6 patterns above.

T SL T SL P SL T SL P1 SL P2 SL

This ends the first of many lessons, happy diddling!