How to Play Whole, Half and Quarter Notes on the Bass

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 26,059
    Professional bass guitar player Scott Giambusso demonstrates how to play a whole, half, and quarter note on the bass guitar.

    Scott Giambusso

    Scott, a native Washingtonian, has been performing for audiences since 1968. A self taught musician, he mainly freelances as an acoustic bassist. Scott also plays guitar, electric bass, and tuba as well as singing in the styles of Nat King Cole, Mel Torme and Jack Bruce. He has worked with The Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Modernaires; The Peter Duchin Orchestra; The Ink Spots; The Tokens; Rory (Disney Channel); Charlie Byrd; Susannah McCorkle; Keely Smith, Jamey Aebersold and Chuck Berry. In spring '07 he performed in a clinic and show with Gene Bertincini at the 4 Seasons DC. Besides playing jazz, Scott's latest project is a Cream tribute band featuring Dan Hovey and John Zidar, (formerly Root Boy Slim's rhythm section). The band is called GHz (Gigahertz} and is breaking sound barriers around town. Besides playing over 200 club dates a year, Mr. Giambusso teaches and performs as a member of the Jazz Faculty of the Montgomery College Music Department. Not only does he teach the bass, but he also coaches singers, pianists and all instrumentalists on the nature of music and operates a recording studio for student demos. Because of his versatility, knowledge of tunes and styles, and his 30+ years of gigging experience, he has the rare ability to explain music to the laymen with clarity of vision.

    Scott Giambusso: Okay, this is Scott Giambusso, your bass doctor. I am here to help you learn how to keep calm and play the bass, and have some fun.

    Fundamental thing about bass playing is rhythm, you attack, your right hand attacks the bass. You need to have good rhythm, you need to have good time, you need one of these, this is a metronome, metronome just a beat, a click, a constant heartbeat pulse. You can buy this at any music store. I think this one was 35 bucks. It is the most important thing one you are first learning, because you have to instill a sense of time. What I am going to do is put this metronome on 60 beats per minute, that seems like you should take a minute to get through and I am also, this metronome has a little feature, so it will give me the first beat of four beats, four one. Now, lets approach to bass. I actually turn his off for a second. The bass players all over the world have different styles of right hand attack. Of course Victor Wooten is the wonder with the thumb in the tap. I am not a big thumb player, I cant, I can do a little thumb, but it is not my thing, I play with two fingers generally. One of the great base player in the world James Jamerson which you should look for his book, you can learn a awful lot, he only used one finger when he played.

    I am going to use two; sometimes I use three on my hand. We are going to develop in this episode some right hand technique using one or two fingers, thats your choice. What I would like to do is describe the different kinds of notes. You can use temple wise and right now we are going to just do the whole note, the half note and the quarter note. Very simple put, I am going to put the metronome on, just so you know one, two, three, four. I am going to attack the E string and when I do it I am going to land on the lower B string I am playing a five string bass so I overlooked that point and I am just landing on the string below it. Now, I am going to do the next string, the A string which is in this case the third string of the bass and I am landing, these are whole notes and they are very clear and they are very precisely played. Now, thats four beats; two, three, four. The half note is two beats; well, there is another whole note; one, two, three, four; there is your half note. You have to practice them clearly so that the volume and the attack is the same. Now, the next note is quarter notes and on the A string I am going to play four quarter notes, every beat its a note. Now if we ascend the second and fourth beats, we will find ourselves in a deeper groove or if I make the first and third beat a little lighter, it is very subtle or as our fearless leader we would say subtle. So, the next thing is to play these on all the strings in some kind of order and we will do that next time.