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Jazz Guitar Lessons

A Lesson for Both Guitarists and Bassists

Mark Stefani

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Mark Stefani presents a lesson for both guitarists and bassists, featuring four funky blues licks from a groove-based trio original in his “Home Bass” collection.

I’ve played bass for almost FIFTY years and am always preaching to my guitar students how valuable it is for them to double on the most important instrument in any band. Even if your guitar subscribers can’t read bass clef they can easily follow the tab and play these slick licks on guitar. As a matter of fact and as you’ll see, the licks were heavily influenced by non-bass players like George Benson, Ronnie Foster (keys) and Tom Scott (sax).

This is another lesson for both bassists and guitarists, featuring four funky blues licks from a groove-based trio original in my “Home Bass” collection. To replay the lick example, click on the music shown above.

Double Play

Low Down ‘n Funky Licks

Guitar Bass Lesson
Transcribed by Mark Stefani

Notes & Tips

Besides the fact that I’ve played and taught bass (all styles) for over 45 years, I do quite a bit of my composing on that instrument. As a language disciple, regardless of genre, I draw upon a wide spectrum of non-bass influences (sax, trumpet, piano, guitar, etc) when it comes to improvising and songwriting.

“Double Play” is a perfect case in point, because this one-chord vamp original is defined by the personality of the signature bass line in addition to a catchy head/melody. The four bass licks shown above take place after the guitar solo, and all are easily playable on the guitar as well. Let’s break it all down. Read on..

1 – The first example is based on A major blues involving movement between the minor and major 3rds (C and C#), plus just a touch of bebop using minor superimposition (E minor over A7) in the second measure.

Check out the syncopated phrasing in addition to the presence of both the 6th and 9th of the key (F# and B). These are “sweet” notes not found in the traditional blues or minor pentatonic scale.

2 – Like all four licks in this lesson, the second one begins off the beat in response to a guitar chord punch.

The content is again A major blues for the most part, and the staccato octave drop sets up a slick move that I learned from guitarist George Benson many years ago. It involves sliding your index finger from C to C# on the 3rd string before hitting the high A. As you move the slide chromatically up that string until you reach E, the finger handling that high A should change from 4th to 3rd to 2nd to 1st. The lick is capped off by a pair of slurs from G (b7th) to A in the upper octave. Put some vibrato on that high root note, which you’ll hear in the track.

3 – The third example is one of my all-time favorite licks, a blend of GB and Ronnie Foster, his longtime piano player.

This lick (like the two before) is based out of the 4th position, one fret away from the traditional A minor blues location. The position is significant because it allows access to the same 9th (B) and 6th (F#) that I mentioned earlier. The first bar begins very melodic (think E minor over A7), whereas the second bar uses a classic funky and flexible keyboard move based on A major blues.

4 – Speaking of personal influences, the final lick reflects language gleaned not only from Benson but saxophonist Tom Scott.

It’s dominant blues in nature (b7th added to the mix) featuring sliding country 6ths using first your index finger and then the middle finger. The last bar is TS all the way in the tradition of legendary sax players like Junior Walker and Isaac “King” Curtis. Once again check out the 9th (B) and 6th (F#) throughout this move.

To hear Marks’ entire “Double Play” rendition, including the intro, head, guitar, and bass solo, click here. Enjoy!


Note: These kinds of licks and concepts are taught in Mark’s Rhythm & Blues Experience lesson course. For those interested, Mark is also accepting Zoom students on a limited basis. Information available upon request.

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