Why is funk bass so popular? If you want a challenge as a bass player, learn to play funk bass lines. They sound cool, of course, but they are also a great way to:
- work on your timing, feel and groove
- learn your minor pentatonic scale
- coordinate your fretting and plucking hands
- learn the fretboard
One of the keys to playing any bass line is to play it bang in time. If you want a 5-minute drums beat to play this line along to, download the audio below. If not, you can set your metronome to 119BPM and play to that.
Pop/funk players don't come any more titanic than Bernard Edwards. With Nile Rodgers he formed one half of a production behemoth that spawned hits for Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, and countless others.
As a producer and songwriter, he would have been acutely aware of the importance of hooks in pop music. A hook is a simple, catchy, memorable line and pop music is full of them. Not only did Bernard's bass lines contain multiple hooks, but they also served to anchor the song and propel the song forward with the sheer force of his groove.
Le Freak uses fingerstyle technique and the minor pentatonic scale to create a riff-based, punchy groove. The notes are played aggressively. Pay attention to note length; funk bass often calls for short notes, and that is the case here. Make sure you know all the shapes of the minor pentatonic scale. It's used all the time in pop and funk bass playing. There's a free PDF here.
For more bass line breakdowns similar to this one, head over to the Bass Line Creation page.
Would you like your favourite bass line featured? Let me know in the comments box below or get in touch.