Bass Slides Technique: Tips & Creativity

If you’re eager to add a new dimension to your bass playing with bass slides, you’re in the right place. Slides are an essential technique used as embellishments for your lines. If you are looking to refine your skills, this guide will break down the essential technique and tips for incorporating them into your playing.

The Foundation

When playing slides, your fretting hand’s position is important. Regarding the position of your thumb, it varies based on the slide. In most cases, your whole hand moves with the slide. However, shorter slides involve keeping your thumb in a typical position, adjust your thumb’s movement to match the slide’s length and direction. Also practice sliding with all your fingers, but strategically choose the finger that sets you up for the next part of the bassline or fill, minimising unnecessary finger shifts.

The Slide Technique

Slides can be used to move from one note to another or simply as a sound effect. To perform a slide, start by fretting a note, apply gentle pressure behind the fret enough to produce a clear note. As you move your fretting hand up or down you’ll notice that the movement creates a glissato effect.

Maintaining Continuous Pressure: The key to a successful slide is maintaining consistent pressure on the string as you move. If you release the pressure, even slightly, the note will stop abruptly. This is a common pitfall, so be mindful of it as you practice your slides.

Speed and Direction: Move quickly but smoothly, practicing the transition between two specific notes until you get a good sound and motion. Changing speed is a great way to add subtle nuances. By varying the speed at which you slide, you can create different sounds from legato slides (smooth transitions) to staccato slides (short, sharp movements).

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Creative Slide Techniques

1. Slide into Verses or Choruses: Use slides as a dynamic entry into verses or choruses. This technique adds a sense of excitement to your basslines making them more engaging.

2. Combine Slides: Combine slides with other techniques like hammer ons and pull offs for a more expressive sound.

3. Explore Sliding Within Scales: Practice sliding within scales, such as the minor pentatonic scale. This approach adds style to your solos, lines and fills.

Slide Technique Tip

Now that you’ve gained valuable insights into your slide technique, remember to keep your hand on the string, pluck and then move your hand from one point to another without letting the string go. It’s very easy to miss the note you are sliding into, so look ahead and remember that the key is to use a relaxed motion with your fretting hand.

Bass guitar slides are a versatile and expressive tool for bassists of all levels. By mastering this technique and practicing consistently you can elevate your bass playing with a touch of finesse.

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