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What Makes A Great Bassist? Part 3: Defining Groove

Photo Credit: Mika Hiironniemi

As bassists, one of our main goals is to make the band groove. The only problem is that the term can be vague. Many young players that begin their quest for the elusive groove are met with descriptions like, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.”

In an effort to share ideas and bring us all to a greater understanding of what it means to groove, we asked members of the bass community to reflect and tell us how they define it.

How do you define Groove?

Norm Stockton

Norm StocktonA feeling of consistent, predictable and reliable forward motion in the music.


Sebastiano Mereu

Sebastiano MereuA groove comes to life when the rhythm locks in with the harmony and gives a vital heartbeat to the song.


Nick Iongi

Nick IongiGroove to me is when your natural instinct plays a tune that others can pick up on, like your communicating through music. then its like the flow of music can guide you to the next riff or playing variations of the same riff. Groove is just and expression of ones soul of creativity


Joe Lev

Joe LevWhen everyone is listening to everyone else and feeling the same pulse. It’s 4 or 5 players counting to 4 together. It’s how things SHOULD be. It’s about being unselfish. We used to toast the “almighty groove” Would that people lived the groove more and their egos less.


Matty Bryson

Matty BrysonGroove is the telepathic feeling that is shared by a group of musicians, or by musicians to listeners. It can be any emotion, transmitted and received.


John Clayton

John ClaytonGroove is that rhythmic feeling that everyone agrees is the perfect feeling for song, [though it’s] an unverbalized agreement. It’s like great food. When all the ingredients are there and it works perfectly to excite your tastebuds exactly the way they should be stimulated, you know it. You can’t define the amounts of the ingredients that are going into it or even what the ingredients are.


JRodney Collins

JRodney CollinsGroove for me is complete detachment from all notions of right/wrong, proper/improper. It’s letting go and with some convolution, immersing yourself in the pulse of everything. It’s rising above all and being conversant with all, intuitively. It prolongs the moment we all have experienced when it was “just right”… you didn’t know where it came from but you knew the moment you were the omnipotent Master then and how good and easy it had all become. Truth is you let go and felt when it was time, thought when it was time, listened, when it was time, you were aware that you were heard and was being heard. Groove is a state of mind.


Torben Scharling

torben-scharlingGrooving is the concept of uniting each musicians rhythmic pulse into one moving entity. It’s a sophisticated yet very natural way for human beings to communicate (through) music. When the groove happens, and it’s locked in/in sync – the sum makes for a grander, more profound, and ultimately better musical experience both for the listener, and the musicians involved.


Andrew Perera

The thing that makes the guitarists wish they played bass.


How about you?

How do you define groove? Tell us in the comments, or just leave a video of your favorite groove!

Check out more from this series: Part 1: Playing for the Song and Part 2: Expressing Yourself