How To Play Ghost Notes On Bass

In my honest opinion, no matter of the style you play, you can’t go not knowing how to play ghost notes on the bass. The ghost notes are the flavor, as well as the cherry on top that make the bass so groovy and fun to play. Bass closely flirts with drums all the time, and ghost (or dead) notes are important.

Drummers play ghost notes all the time, most predominantly on the snare drum (think of the song Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers), but also on other elements (kick drum, hi-hat etc).

These ghost notes make the simple grooves sounds so alive. They make the grooves sound natural in this very digital world of computerized drums and programming.

Same goes for the ghost notes on the bass. They fill the space in between the notes, making the lines funky, organic and ALIVE.

In this mini lesson I’ll share with you how to play ghost notes on the bass guitar.

Ghost Notes Bass Guitar Technique

To play a ghost note, you first need to mute the string you are playing on. Do this with the fretting hand, by resting one or more fingers on the string you intend to play a ghost note on. Rest your finger on the string, but do not press down on any of the frets.

The goal is to just lean on the string with enough force to mute (or deaden) it, but not enough to press it down and touch any of the frets.

Once the string is muted, pluck it with your fretting hand. The resulting note should sound punchy, percussive and non-defined. This is how you play your ghost notes.

Ghost Notes Groove

I have composed a mini bass ghost notes groove for you to learn, in order to practice your ghost notes playing and incorporation.

Now, listen to the bass track only:

Here you can find the tablature for this example:

Now it’s time to internalize this groove and technique.

Use the provided practice backing track that you can play below (it’s the same one as in my playing example). 

Once you’ve got the groove down, try jamming along the drums backing track to practice it further.

I suggest you have fun and change the notes here and there to make it even funkier.

Pro tip: want to get better at ghost notes playing? If so, then you should check out this lesson series where we dig into regular as well as raked ghost notes on the bass.

Once you get the technique basics down, you can move on to learning a smoking hot funk bass groove with ghost notes all over the place featuring master bass player Fernando Lima.

Check out the lesson series here: Raking Ghost Notes Groove