Episode 054: Deep in the Groove

Episode 054: Deep in the Groove

Practical Bass
Practical Bass
Episode 054: Deep in the Groove

How do you put your finger on what groove is? Many try to explain it. Here’s our chance to make it clear.

Show notes


  • I recently had a conversation with a musician about his frustration with playing with bassists that have all the theory training but lack feel/groove. Specifically, he was referencing a swing fill on a Stevie wonder song. He said we should talk about that on our podcast.
  • This is not a theory versus groove debate. I can’t argue that either isn’t super important. But…
  • How do you explain groove to either beginning musicians or non-musicians, without using the word “pocket”?”
  • Paul:
    • It’s a combination of the instruments, especially the drums and bass, linked together in what they’re doing
    • Combination of being together, but also complementing each others’ parts
  • NOT the same as just playing in time/tempo
  • Dave:
    • The rhythmic communication and dance between musicians playing together and the spaces they create?
    • It results in a place listeners and musicians can get lost in (in a good way).

Is groove or feel more important to you over nailing the notes?

  • Paul:
    • Almost always!
    • Sometimes there’s a signature line that you have to nail for people to get lost in the song
    • But also you can play around with groove to create your own feel to a song
  • Dave:
    • For me, almost always. A beautiful and complex fill that loses place awakens me from the dream as does the electronic karaoke band.
    • But a single note played with breath and life…

Can you give an example of where you’ve seen groove go wrong?

  • Dave:
    • Salsa bass sub crossing the clave
    • Also, Pocket drummer telling me to play less notes.
  • Paul:
    • My first lesson from a drummer in playing with a “real” band
    • The “too many notes” thing is rampant

How does the space between the notes play a part in groove?

  • Space really helps make notes meaningful
  • Can completely change the feel

How do you feel practicing to a metronome impacts your ability as a bassist to stay in pocket or develop feel?

  • Paul
    • I used a metronome when I was just starting to learn
    • I use it a lot less now, but what I do like using is drum loops — you can find a lot of them online, or even buy a cool player/plugin like EZDrummer or SSD

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash. Music: JahzzarPlease Listen CarefullyspinningmerkabaUrbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix).

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