Playing bass guitar is an art and a science that does not take overnight to perfect. You will need to learn various techniques, from the most basic to those rarely used. Among others, one of the perfect examples of the latter is chucking bass.
Chucking bass is a rarely used guitar technique involving your fretting hand deadening or muting the strings. Meanwhile, your strumming hand plays using your thumb and index finger without a plectrum. The result of chucking is a distinct groove, making it a must in funky music.
Read on to learn more about chucking bass, including what it is and how it is done.
Chucking Bass – What Is It [Chucking Explained]
Chucking is a rarely used technique when playing bass guitar, so many people are unaware of it. In a nutshell, chucking is a technique that involves the use of your fretting hand to deaden or mute the strings of the bass guitar. This is done by touching the strings when you strum the chords.
While you can do chucking in bass guitar, it is more commonly done in an acoustic guitar. It alternates open strums and dead note chucks to create a rhythmic pattern. This is most popularly heard in funky music.
How Do You Chuck on Bass Guitar?
It is a bit challenging to describe the process in text, but we’ll try to be as comprehensive and informative as possible.
To make things easier, let’s practice with one of the best songs where you can use the chucking technique – Everybody Dance by Chic – Bernard Edwards:
1. Hold Your Thumb and Index Fingers Together
One of the most important in chucking is the position of your fingers, which will hugely influence the overall output. Start by holding your thumb and index finger together.
To make it easier to practice, you must act like you are holding a plectrum. We have seen some people chucking bass even when carrying a plectrum, but in his guide, we will not use one.
Do not use a metronome if you are practicing something like chucking or any other tricky technique. This will allow you to be familiar with the basics without using any timekeeping source.
While a metronome can help improve your timing, you must practice without one if you are still honing your chucking skills.
2. Position Your Hand in the 5th Fret
Position your hand in the 5th fret, the D and A string. Hammer on the A string’s 7th fret. As you strum, hit the strings with a down stroke, then down up.
3. Hold the Strings Down and Play Ghost Notes
Hold the strings down and play ghost notes. Pay attention to the proper timing between the ghost notes and releasing pressure in your fretting hand. Keep your strumming hands constantly picking.
4. Strum the Bass Guitar Based on the Notes You Want to Hit
Strum the bass guitar based on the notes that you are trying to hit. Be careful with your down and up notes, making sure they are rhythmic. One trick is tapping your foot while strumming, making it easier to get the right funk.
Other Chucking Techniques You Might Want to Try
Aside from the main techniques mentioned above, there are also some chucking variations that you might want to try. There are slight differences in how they are done, but you can expect the same rhythm.
Note that there is no rule of thumb on how you can execute chucking bass guitar. Our methods can differ from others, but it does not mean that we or others are wrong.
It depends on what you are most comfortable doing. The most important is to achieve the purpose of chucking, which is to deafen the sound.
Many of the techniques can vary on the way the muting is done. Some will use their fretting fingers, while others do it with their palm. As earlier noted, it does not matter how you do it if you can achieve the desired outcome:
1. Use the Index Finger as the Pick
In one variation, your index finger will work as the pick. On the other hand, the middle finger and thumb will be holding your index finger. This will work best when you are trying to play at a faster speed. This is also quicker than a pick but might take some time to get used to.
2. Skip a String
Another variation you might want to try is skipping a string.
It is almost the same as the steps mentioned in the previous section, but the main difference is that you will do an octave while skipping a string. You can either keep the ghost notes on the A string and jump or do it on the D string.
3. Palm Muting
If you want to mute the notes while playing acoustic guitar, palm muting is another technique you might want to try. As the name implies, you will not use your fingers but your palm to deaden the notes. This way, the sound is muted without losing the rhythm of the guitar.
It is more commonly used in classical guitar performances, but there’s no reason why it won’t work as well when using a bass guitar.
Again, what is chucking on a bass guitar? Chucking on bass guitar involves using your fingers like a plectrum to produce funky lines. Bernard Edwards popularized this bass guitar technique.
Tips and Tricks When Chucking Bass Guitar
Make the most of chucking bass guitar by keeping in mind these tips:
1. Keep a Constant Motion
One of the main reasons why bassists love chucking, even if it is a rare technique, is its funky rhythm. It adds more character to the music.
To do so, you should be strumming in constant motion. It takes practice before you discover the right pace, but once you know, it is easier to maintain constant movements of your fingers as you play.
2. Cut Your Nails Short
You need short nails when you are chucking bass. This does not require a plectrum, so your fingers or nails will do most of the work. You risk breaking them in the middle of chucking if you have long nails. Plus, it can also be uncomfortable.
3. Take Care of Muting Using Your Fretting Hand
Chucking bass is all about muting. To do so, you need to use your fretting hand. It should hold all the strings while the right hand is focused on strumming. As mentioned, you need constant motion, so you cannot use your strumming hand to deafen the notes.
4. Alternate with Fully-Voiced Notes
Another good technique when chucking bass guitar is switching between chucked and muted notes. You can first start with a half fully voiced note.
Next, follow it up with two chucked quarter notes. Alternatively, you can also go for a half fully voiced chord and chuck the chord with eight fast 16th notes. After doing so, you can immediately hear the funk from your guitar.
5. Record Yourself When Playing
Like studying other bass guitar techniques, recording yourself during your practice session is a good idea. Watch the video and see the movements of your hands.
Pay attention to what you are doing wrong and correct it on your next try. The video will give you a visualization of how you are playing so you can modify your mistakes.
6. Tap Your Foot When Chucking
Achieving the right rhythm when chucking is easier when you are tapping your foot. Not to mention, it also makes it easier for you to get in the groove.
This will allow you to follow the beats, resulting in the more natural movement of your strumming and fretting fingers. It will guide the direction of your hands.
7. Go Slow
Bass guitar chucking is not a skill that you will master overnight. It will take time, so make sure to pack patience. Do not immediately give up if you do not get it on the first few tries.
We recommend that you go slowly but surely. Doing it faster will make you prone to mistakes. Finding the rhythm will also be difficult if you do it fast on the first try.
Watch Chucking in Action
The video below shows the technique in action if you are still clueless about chucking bass. Watch closely and learn how you can do it right, even as a beginner:
Frequently Asked Questions – Chucking Bass Guitar
What Is Chucking on Bass Guitar?
Chucking is a bass guitar-playing technique that involves muting the chords. It is accomplished by immediately lifting your fretting fingers once done with strumming. The result is that you will generate a percussive effect, making it popular in funky music.
How Do You Chuck Bass Guitar?
The simplest way to practice chucking is to use your right hand’s thumb and index finger to strum the bass guitar without a plectrum.
Your left hand is for fretting, wherein you will press a bit harder to deafen or mute the note, which is the goal of chucking. Nonetheless, it must not be fully resonant, even if it is muted.
Can You Chuck in an Acoustic Guitar?
Yes, it is possible to chuck an acoustic guitar. It is more common in the latter than bass. The technique remains the same, although some might find it easier because there is no need to exert as much pressure as you would in bass guitar.
What Song Can You Play Chucking Bass?
The most notable song you can play using the chucking technique is Everybody Dance by Chic. This is where Bernard Edwards showcased his chucking technique. It provided a unique groove to the song, adding funky beats to the rhythm.
In Closing – Chucking Bass – What Is It [Chucking Explained]
When playing bass guitar, the most popular techniques include plectrum, slap, and fingerstyle. In this guide, however, our focus was on chucking the bass guitar. It is rarely used but worth learning, especially if you like funk.
In principle, chucking is straightforward, although it is challenging to practice, especially if you are a beginner. You will strum without a plectrum. Instead, you will be using only your thumb and index finger.
Meanwhile, it requires positioning your fretting hand on the right strings depending on the note. You must apply pressure, which is what will deafen the sound.