The Dead Note Problem & How To Fix It (YT094)

Paolo Bass Guitar Technique, Bass Lab PLUS Membership, blog

In this bass guitar lesson, I’m going to talk to you about the Dead Note Problem, and how you can fix it.  

The dead note is a percussive effect when playing a bass guitar string, instead of playing a direct note. There is no pitch to a dead note.

The sound is short and abrupt and may not create the best bass lines when used all the time. When used sparingly within the context of a bass line however, it can definitely add that extra pop that can enhance the groove and feel.

In this lesson, we’ll be using one of the tracks from the just released Blues Jam Backing Track Album called Level 62 and we can take the core bass line and add different combinations of dead notes to it.

In the video, we’ll go through 5 examples that will show you how to incorporate dead notes into your playing. Below are the examples in notation form.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 5

Lesson Wrap Up

So there you go! 5 examples on how you can fix the dead note problem and use it to improve the feel of your bass lines.

At first, it may feel quite odd to play these dead notes in such a deliberate way. Give it some time though, and you will find that even simple dead notes can add an extra kick to your basslines and you’ll instinctively know when to use them and when not to use them.

Also, for more inspiration on how you can further utilize dead notes, do check out the greats like Jaco Pastorius and Francis Rocco Prestia.

If you like help learning blues bass right from the ground upwards make sure you check out the Essential Technique Course inside the Bass Lab PLUS membership.

Good luck and get stuck in!


P.S. I recommend practicing these ideas with blues backing tracks made for the bass guitar. You can pick up the backing track used in this lesson and 11 other fantastic sounding blues tracks here.

More Bass Guitar Lessons: