There are a few bass techniques that can give you a good versatile range of styles. Playing bass is not simply playing a note that is the root, third or fifth of the guitar chord being played. Nor is it just walking up and down a scale. We’ll mention a few here and then discuss briefly.
Right Hand Bass Techniques
One popular bass technique is slap bass. Usually associated with funk or jazz styles of music, slap bass adds a flavour to your music unlike any other. Slapping the bass is really more of a thump on the string with the thumb. Hold the thumb at a slight angle above the string you are going to strike. Now bring the thumb down onto the desired string, trying to strike the bottom half of the string so the resulting sound is a solid “thump”.
Akin to slapping the bass is popping. Popping is used in conjunction with slapping and is widely heard in jazz, funk, soul and even some rock songs that have “breakdowns”. To pop the string, use the index finger or the middle finger. After you have slapped the string, use that finger to pull it up. It should “pop” back down on the fret board.
If speed is your aim as a bass player, then tapping is a necessary bass technique to learn. One of the easier, yet more advanced, of the bass techniques, tapping can add speed as well as versatility to your playing. This involves the use of the right hand on the fret board. While holding a note that you have just played, use the right index finger to “hammer on” a higher fret, usually two or three above where the left hand is.
You may actually incorporate other right fingers into the playing. In this way you can extend the upper registers of almost any scale by as many as 5 notes, maybe more.
Left Hand Bass Techniques
Your left hand, commonly referred to as your ‘fretting hand’ can be used as well to gain speed and accuracy. Two of the greatest left hand bas techniques are hammer-ons and pull-offs. Each has its own uses and placements plus they are easy to master and learn.
A hammer-on is what we call it when a note is being sounded and we simply “hammer” on to the next fret without the use of the right hand. This is also called a slur in some bassist circles.
Opposite of that is the pull off. A pull off is done by playing a note that is fretted with the left middle or ring finger. You need to have your index finger on a lower fret, then simply pull the other finger off, resulting in a lower note being sounded.
These two bass techniques are especially useful in many types of music, but predominantly in rock, blues and jazz styles.
All these bass techniques are easy to learn and just need a little practice to master. Many online bass technique courses include these as part of the curriculum. So if I were you, I would go find an online bass technique course and start now. These are affordable, easy and completely comprehensive with written instruction, video and sound files for full effectiveness.