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Will someone please explain to me how to use ghost notes?


Thingus

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Ghost notes are used as a purely rhythmic "spice", since they have no pitch. They are often used to keep a pulse or groove going, whilst not actually playing a note.

 

They tend to get used alot in funk, where the careful placement of a few ghost notes can add a "stop-start" effect to a running phrase and add a bubbling quality to grooves.

 

I use ghost notes as "pick-ups" into beats, but in particular if I'm playing a groove that involves playing on both the first and second quavers of beat 1 (both 1 and the +) I often play a ghost on the beat and an then accent the second quaver. When played at the right time I find this gives a really nice bounce, it's one of my favorite tricks. (This trick also works well if you're play a 16th note groove with two notes being played in beat 1, just place the ghost on the beat.)

 

To see the difference the ghost makes, play a groove and occasionally move the first note in the bar off 1 and onto the + of beat 1. Then play a pitch on the + and a ghost on the 1.

 

My other favorite use of ghosts is in little flurries of three or four before a slide. If you're going to slide into your entry at the top of the tune, (I'm gonna assume you sliding down the E string) rake across the G, D and A strings with one, or more, fingers as a little pick up into the slide. (I stole this trick from Stuart Zender.)

 

I hope this helps. You'll also find ghost notes in slap parts, but I don't slap all that much.

Free your mind and your ass will follow.
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Originally posted by Thingus:

I appreciate the reply and will try your trick, except you didn't explain "how" to do a ghost note.

That's because you didn't ask! A ghost note is plucking w/ the plucking hand while the left hand lays on the string w/o fretting a note.

 

Sounds like "Thuu"

Ah, nice marmot.
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Rest your fretting hand across the strings (using more than one finger to avoid playing any harmonics) to mute it, then pluck the string. The resulting pitchless "thump" is a ghost note.

 

Pretty simple to do, actually. Integrating it into a groove is harder. Listen to Jaco, Flea, and Stuart Zender w/ Jamiroquai.

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As a natural trombonist, I have played a lot with not just drum sets, but real precussion.

 

I have gotten used to a beat with my bass, and so I slap and pluck ghost notes with most rythyms since my band is without a drummer now.

 

I like to use them as grace notes (bu-da da da da!) bu = ghost = 16th note.

 

I also use them when the guitarist is doing a Metalica-esque solo with the wah and no notes other than roots work, if that. I play a beat with just ghost notes, and they work well for building out of a bridge into an outro.

 

Hope that helps,

 

peaceOUT,

 

Germain

 

)()()()()()())()()()()()()()()((

 

ps- anyone want to sell privately an ampeg b2-r and/or any swr or ampeg cabs, send me a pm (I have $$ to spend and dont like my GC service!)

.~.
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Here's a simple illustration of the concept.

 

Play some repeating eighth notes (two notes per beat) on G on the E string. Play this fairly slowly.

 

G G G G G G G G | G G G G G G G G | etc.

 

Now, play it again, except when you play the second note of each measure, lift your fretting finger up enough so that the string leaves the fretboard but not enough so that the finger leaves the E string - it should still be touching the E string. Make sure that at least two fingers on the left hand touch the E string at this moment.

 

G x G G G G G G | G x G G G G G G G | etc.

 

Compare the sound to when you played all notes explicitly. The effect will be even more pronounced if you play the first two notes as a dotted-eighth and sixteenth.

 

G__x G G G G G G | G__x G G G G G G | etc.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Instant Jaco/Rocco bass line, with ghost notes:

 

Play steady sixteenth notes with your plucking hand, but mute every other two notes by not quite pressing the string all the way down with your fretting hand. Play this pattern with these notes - A, C#, D, D#, E - and you're instantly a funk master.

 

On sheet music, a ghost note would be represented by an x. Here's a mocked up bit of quasi-tab for the above figure, with o's for actual sounding notes:

 

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a

o-o-x-x-o-o-x-x-o-o-x-x-o-o-o-o-

A A C#C# D D D#D#E E

 

Try it out.

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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Listen to Flea's bass solo in Coffeeshop, the first one (!), there's some mad ghost notes combined with some autowah...mmm mmm good.

 

One other fun thing to do is kind of like a backwards trill (works esp well on D or G). Mute the string and trill, or slide up and down the neck too for a slippery riff, you can get some crazy sounds from that.

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  • 1 year later...
Originally posted by C. Alexander Claber:

Rocco's video is very informative on this: Take your groove up another notch!

Fingerstyle Funk? Great video!

 

I wish it went into more difficult stuff even though I can't play through most of what's already there. I just wish I could see how he does some of his more difficult stuff.

 

Ghost notes are a great way to fill out a groove if you're getting bored and can't move around too much...or if you want to get Rocco-crazy and move all over while you're at it.

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And then, there's the "rake" which I use quite often as well.

 

 

First finger on C on the A string, second, third and fourth finger on G on the D string. Press 1 into fret, relax the other fingers.

 

Rake the plucking finger across the D string into the A string. You should acheive a "pit--daaaahh" tone.

 

Then try with the octave c, muted g, lower c. "Ring-pit-dah" in a swing time.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Ah, raked ghost notes. Check out Walter Becker's rake on an Ebmaj (raking Eb & Bb, then hitting G, then approaching the target C via another Bb) on the simple but tasty groove in the verse of "Janie Runaway" for an excellent example. Tasty!
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  • 3 months later...

Bump! This is a great thread.

 

I've used some form of ghost notes with slap quite a while, but have never really put much conscious effort into using ghost notes in fingerstyle. But, after listening to Rocco Prestia/TOP for a while, I've definitely got some motivation to give it some conscious effort... ;)

 

I'm spending some practice time on multi-string ghost rakes, and I'm particularly liking the results I'm getting. The thing that strikes me about these ghost rakes is the economy of motion. By just raking down the top 2 or 3 strings, you can do some bubbly ba-ba-ba-bum-bum-ba-bum-ba-ba-bum-ba-bum kinda riffs, and there's not much more finger motion involved than just picking four or five single notes. This is definitely technique that I need to consciously embrace in my playing. This is one of those techniques that (at least for me) requires precise coordination moreso than raw speed or stamina...that qualifies as great techniques to work toward mastering in my book...you can play some fast, bubbly riffs all day long with little or no hand fatigue (will definitely get some finger-tip blisters early on though!).

 

Dave

 

 

Originally posted by Dave Brown:

And then, there's the "rake" which I use quite often as well.

 

 

First finger on C on the A string, second, third and fourth finger on G on the D string. Press 1 into fret, relax the other fingers.

 

Rake the plucking finger across the D string into the A string. You should acheive a "pit--daaaahh" tone.

 

Then try with the octave c, muted g, lower c. "Ring-pit-dah" in a swing time.

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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My other favorite use of ghosts is in little flurries of three or four before a slide. If you're going to slide into your entry at the top of the tune, (I'm gonna assume you sliding down the E string) rake across the G, D and A strings with one, or more, fingers as a little pick up into the slide. (I stole this trick from Stuart Zender.)
I stole the exact same thing from zender. You can hear it at 3:44 into Manifest Destiny (Return of the Space Cowboy)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey folks:

 

Here's a song I'm working on for the Hurricane Katrine relief effort [begin shameless plug] If you interested in contributing anything, go check out the Collaboration forum, everything's pretty much coordinated from there. [End of shameless plug]

 

Anyway, I'm using lots of ghost notes in this tune. I *suppose* this is a decent example of how to use ghost notes rakes (or maybe over-use them? :freak: ). Anyway, with ghost note rakes, these two riffs are much easier than they sound (they have to be for me to play them :thu: ). Here's a link to the rough sketch of the song:

Hurricane Katrina - song rough sketch

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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There is another form of ghost note that is very interesting and musical. The concept is similar but instead of playing a muted note, play a brief open string note. In general, it doesn't matter what key the song is in. If the note is strategically placed (rhythmically), your ear will automatically merge it with the tonal structure of the tune. Jamerson was a master at this. It is simple to do once you get the hang of it, and it can make your lines sound very rich and complex.

 

Kirk

Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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