Straight Eighths Rock with a Pick

Sometimes it’s just so easy to lose focus from what matters when it comes to playing bass.

In this lesson we’re going to take a step back into reality and work on what you’ll spend most of time playing with any rock band. 

In this lesson I’ll show you how to play a Straight Eights Rock Rhythm using a pick.

This is bare bones and iconic bass rhythm that drives all legendary rock songs. Just think of bands like AC/DC or ZZ Top and you get the point. 

You’ll be playing this rhythm with a guitar pick, but it can be done fingerstyle too if you wish so although pick will give you a more authentic sound.

The rhythm consist of straight 8th notes. You’ll be playing a root note of each chord in the backing track.

You can count this rhythm like this:

 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

You’ll play 8 equal notes per each bar of music.

Sounds easy right?

Well, there are a few tricks hidden in this one that you need to master in order to be able to play it right.

Before we get started, make sure you grab a handy FREE PDF and Backing Track package that you can download on your computer and use for practice: click here to get it.

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Straight Eighths Rock

Backing track for practice is included in the free lesson resources package.

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Pick technique – downstroke only

You should play this bass line with a pick and more importantly – use downstroke only.

This means going through the string with a pick in a downward motion, towards the floor.

When playing with a pick, you can pick strings in down stroke or an up stroke motion. 

For a rock tune like this one, you should use downstroke only, as the tone changes if you add upstrokes.

Apply the muting technique

This is one of those bass lessons that are made with an intentional gotcha moment. 

The bass line is designed in such a way so that it will force you to work on your bass muting technique.

In the second bar you are playing open A string, and then moving to play the open E string.

During this transition from playing open A string to E, you need to stop the A string from vibrating.

Do it with the index finger of your fretting hand. Just slightly tap the open A string to stop its vibration, the moment you switch to playing open E string.

There is also a transition in the 3rd bar, where you go from open E strong to open A string.

You need to stop the open E string from making noise when you move to play open A string and options are:

Either mute the low E string by resting the palm of you picking had OR touch the string with the thumb of the fretting hand, tapping it from above the neck.

Take a listen to the bass only performance:

Backing track for practice is included in the free lesson resources package.

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Make it groove

Here’s a secret spice to make your performance sound PRO.

If you were to just pluck straight 8th notes like a computer midi file, with no special articulation then it wouldn’t sound like ROCK.

In order for this rhythm to drive the song, you can’t play all notes with the same intensity or should I say dynamics.

When I say dynamics, I mean how hard or soft you pick a certain note.

You want to strive to play harder and accent notes that fall on the beat 2 and beat 4 in each bar of music (this is where the snare usually is).

That’s the trick – learn to accent beats 2 and 4 and you’ll instantly sound pro even though you’re playing probably the simplest bass line ever. 

Handy Resources For Download

To help you follow the materal I’ve covered in this lesson, I’ve created a handy free package that includes PDF that summarizes everything in this lesson PLUS you get practice backing track so that you can play it on your computer or living room audio system and improvise over.


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This is what rock bass is all about – driving the songs and providing a strong foundation along with the drums.

Think of it as laying down a brick wall.

You have a line of bricks followed by concrete in between to glue bricks together.

If you lay it down well, you’ll have a strong wall no one can knock down.

Beats 1 and 3 are bricks and beats 2 and 4 and concrete and you’re laying down concrete to push the song forward.

Suggested Bass Courses


Bass Guitar 101

START HERE: This is a course for absolute beginners. Learn notes on bass, develop essential technique and rhythm skills & perform bass lines.

If you’re serious about bass and would enjoy step-by-step online bass lessons and courses, then I strongly suggest checking out how Bass Road Academy online bass courses can help you get results.

Want to get better at playing bass and make steady progress?

Level up your bass skills with online bass courses and lesson series at Bass Road Academy. 

Learn why behind the bass lines you play, have a strategy when improvising and make progress faster.