How to Play Hard Rock Style Grooves on the Bass Guitar - dummies

By Patrick Pfeiffer

Hard rock, which includes progressive rock along with metal and its numerous offspring, is the fastest category of rock you can play on the bass guitar. The rhythm is hard and driving, and the tempo can be downright wicked (as in superfast). You may frequently encounter sixteenth notes and odd meters in this style. Hard rock bass lines often are based on minor pentatonic sounds .

When you and your band members play unison riffs (licks using the same notes in the same rhythm) in hard rock, you want to get your sixteenth notes up to speed so you can keep up with the others.

Listen to Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith or John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin if you want to hear some excellent bassists who play the hard rock style.


Hard rock grooves often sound very aggressive. Listen to an aggressive groove. Check out how they evolve as you add notes from the chord and mode. You can also watch an aggressive grove.

This groove adds the ♭ó3 and 5 to the root (the ♭ó3 gives it a minor tonality). Minor is the most common chord choice in hard rock, but you may occasionally encounter major tonalities as well. Start this groove with your index finger on the root.


This bass groove includes notes from both the minor chord and the minor modes. You can really feel your fingers move when you play this groove. Make sure you start with your index finger on the root.


This hard rock groove uses a chromatic tone (a note outside the regular minor mode) to embellish the bass line. This example shows a typical box groove (no shifts with the left hand) that’s played on the bass and guitar in unison (not by the same person, of course).