By Patrick Pfeiffer

Raking across the strings of your bass guitar is a great, natural way to incorporate dead notes into your playing. Raking means striking a string with your right-hand index or middle finger and then striking the next lower (thicker) string with the same finger. You can rake across several strings with the same finger in one rake.

Here’s how to play the dead note rake properly:

  1. Play the low note (the root) with your right-hand index finger.

  2. Play the high note (the octave) with your right-hand middle finger.

  3. Rake your right-hand middle finger across the string between the two notes (the root and the octave).

    Mute the string you’re crossing over by touching it lightly with at least two fingers of your left hand.

  4. Play the low note (the root) with your right-hand middle finger by raking across the low string.

    You’re now back at the beginning of the groove.

  5. Play the high note (the octave) with your right-hand index finger.

  6. Rake your right-hand index finger across the string between the two notes (the root and the octave).

    Mute the string you’re crossing.

  7. Play the low note (the root) with your right-hand index finger.

    You’re once again at the beginning of the groove.

Check out this groove, which doubles as an exercise, to help you use the dead note in conjunction with the rake.

Listen to how smoothly the dead note connects the sounded notes. The groove sounds much busier than it really is. It’s sort of like talkin’ loud and sayin’ nothin’. Listen to whether your groove matches the one on the recording.

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This groove is a useful and cool one for your own groove repertoire. As you practice, notice that your hand works only about a third as fast as your groove sounds. That’s because you’re using right-hand string crossing and dead notes. Pretty powerful stuff, eh?