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You need power, speed and the right quirky notes for a riff to make you headbang.
You need power, speed and the right quirky notes for a riff to make you headbang.
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Bass Around the World #25: One-String Riffs

Are you a rock or metal enthusiast? Do you love to headbang? Do you like weird but cool? If your answer is yes to all the questions above, get ready for this episode of "Bass Around the World" as you’re about to discover all the greatness you can achieve using just one string on the bass.


If you think about it, most rock and metal riffs don’t need more than one or two strings. On the other hand, power, speed and the right quirky notes are pure necessities to make you headbang in a proper riffing situation.

Let’s find out how you can create one-string riffs using two cool hacks. 

Lesson time

The first way to sound awesome on one string is to employ a combination of the chromatic scale and an open string. Look at the E string—any combination on E, F, F# and G will sound badass. Or try a Royal Blood style chromatic passage by combining an open E with G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C# and D. There are literally endless possibilities. Start with a simple eighth note line in one bar, then evolve it into two and four-bar phrases. 

The second way is to be inspired, for example, by a cool three-note line from Muse’s riff in "Hysteria." Try playing an open E with D, Db; then E, Db, C; followed by a phrase with E, C, B; and finishing with E, B, Bb. Be careful with the number of notes in one bar—in this case, you can get away with playing the phrase as eighth-note triplets. However, if you want to adapt this riff for eighth or sixteenth note phrasing, then you’ll need to adjust the number of notes within the phrase accordingly.

Tagy Bass Around the World Muse royal blood YouTube lessons

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Marek Bero
Bass Gym 101 books, touring & session bass player, football tactics aficionado.