Groove Tweaking (Part 3)

Welcome back to another exploration of groove tweaking!

Our untweaked version is a reprise of the straight 8th-note groove in A minor from previous installments.

Today’s tweaks imagine that someone requested an adaptation to inject a bit of reggae. You’ll see that none of the tweaks conflict with the kick drum pattern implied by the original version.

The tweaked versions could definitely employ the muted thumb plucking technique (check out my “Pondering Bass Techniques” DVD or for further info), but also work well with normal fingerstyle technique.  If the latter, I’d recommend a warmer tone with the highs rolled off.

Some common reggae idioms include: not playing on beat 1, a tone that avoids bright highs and fret or string noise, the aforementioned muted thumb technique, and judicious use of rests.

The fist tweaked version opts to split the difference between the original and the “even more tweaked” version by still hitting beat 1 with the kick drum and hitting at least one of the two kicks around beat 3. It would be a better choice if the intent is to slightly infuse the part with a hint of reggae while still keeping the feel relatively straightforward and pop. Some listeners might not even recognize that reggae is the mindset behind the tweaks.

The second version goes more into the reggae vein by avoiding beat 1 in three of the 4 measures. It also leaves more air (note the almost complete absence of notes in the latter half of bars 1 and 3), resting through the kick drum at beat 3. The figures in bars 2 and 4 make it clear that we haven’t forgotten about it, though!

For those of you who would like to explore this genre in more detail, there’s a free lesson on reggae bass available at Just click on the 60-Lesson Groove Course, Level 3, Lesson 7.  I hope you find it helpful.  :^)

Happy woodshedding & see you next time!

Blessings- Norm

(Adapted from curriculum at

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