How To Play Perfect Slides (YT099)

Paolo Bass Guitar Technique, Bass Lab PLUS Membership, blog

In this bass guitar lesson, I’ll teach  you ways on how you can perform surgical-accurate slides. I’ll also discuss how to be more comfortable and familiar with moving on your fret board.

I get quite a few questions at eBassGuitar like "How do I go about on improving my slides on the fingerboard?"

I know why I get that question because sliding from one fret to another accurately can be a daunting task.

That's why I want to share with you an exercise that was inspired by the great Jaco Pastorius. It's something that I've developed when I was working in the West End show "The Lion King" to play some of the bass lines in that particular part.

 First, let's talk about how to create accurate slides every time. I can remember a situation about ten years ago where I was working in a West End show where I had played a part that required me to slide from the third fret all the way to the 15th and I missed the ‘target note ‘half a step.

That got me thinking about the mechanics of how to do a slide perfectly every time.

From there, I found out that there are 3 ways that will help create an accurate slide every time. Two of them are quite obvious but the third might not be so obvious for most.

Let's talk about how to do this and get the accuracy.

1. Muscle memory

One of the most common slides you’ll find on the bass guitar is an octave. Training your muscles so you know how much you need to move your fretting is one part of the equation. Start off by practicing octave slides so you get familiar with what they feel like.

2. Eyeball The Target Note

The second one is to "eyeball" the target note. Looking where you need to slide your finger to will greatly help improve your accuracy.

3. Using your ears

The third one is using your ear too. I learned this from playing the double bass because we often subtly slide into notes to help with centre intonation . You can practice this by playing slides with your eyes closed and listening for when you hit the target note. This can be a little tricky to start with but once you get the hang of it, it can greatly impact your accuracy in a big way.

Putting all three of these ideas together is going to help guarantee accuracy with your slides. 

Slides Exercises

Now let's talk about more complicated slides which help you learn how to utilize the fingerboard better.

If you've ever listened to the great Jaco Pastorius, you probably have heard him play a cool bass line where he's doing a slide to a note called the ‘tenth’.

The tenth is the ‘third’ of a major or minor  triad put up an octave. 

So what I want to do is show you an exercise that I developed when I was working on the show "The Lion King" which has come complex and exposed bass parts . I wanted to work out a way of nailing it in a high pressure situation every time. 

First of all make sure you know the Major and Minor 10th Chords. Here it is written in Bb Major:

Exercise 1 - 10th Chords In Bb Major

Once you’re familiarized with the chords, we’ll get to the next exercise where we can create this really funky, slightly latin sounding bassline. This will help you accurately slide into each of the Major and Minor tenths.

Exercise 2 - The Lion King Inspired Sliding 10th Groove

So to begin with, I'd like you to practice the first two chords (Bb and C minor) together. and then take it up to the next degree of the scale (Dm). When you're comfortable, keep adding one bar at a time until you can play the first 8 bars fluently. Once you can do it ascending try playing it descending (bars 9 -16)

This is a great technical exercise but is also a great musical exercise.

Exercise 3 - Adding The Jaco Pastorious Inspired Dead Notes

Here is an example of how to add dead notes to the groove above.

This exercise will let you add more style to your playing by adding the dead notes. So feel free to apply them to the exercise above and you’ll see how adding this further compliments the sound and feel.

Lesson Wrap Up

So that is the Jaco and Lion King inspired exercise to practice and also develop tenths on the bass guitar. I hope you enjoyed and learned something new from this lesson. Take time in doing these exercises as this will really help you develop your fingerboard knowledge and confidence. 

There's so many possibilities and places where you can take this exercise so feel free to get creative!

If you liked this lesson and wish to learn more, do make sure to check out the FREE 14-Day Bass Lab PLUS membership Trial!

Good luck and get stuck in!


More Bass Guitar Lessons