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How To Play Ghost Notes On The Bass (With Examples)

bassist playing ghost note with a ghost layered on top of him

Ghost notes are oftentimes what elevate bass lines from decent to great. Learning how to play them, can thus make your bass playing sound more dynamic, rhythmic, and groovy.

In this article, I will teach you how to do just that. First, let`s start by defining what a ghost note is.

On the bass guitar, ghost notes are notes that are played muted or muffled with no sustain. In general, ghost notes are played quickly before melodic notes at either an 8th or 16th note speed. They can thus be used to add rhythm and groove to a bass line without disrupting the melody.

This technique is therefore often used as a percussive effect, rather than a melodic one. This is due to the note`s short duration, as well as it not needing to ring out at a specific pitch.

I will show you how to make the most of ghost notes, by first showing you how to play them. Then, I`ve made a simple exercise that you can use to practice the technique.

Afterward, I`ll show you several versions of a bass line where ghost notes are used in different ways. . Lastly, I`ve made a list of songs that make use of ghost notes to provide some inspiration and ideas.

Playing ghost notes

How well you are able to play ghost notes largely comes down to how well you keep strings muted and avoid playing harmonics .

You can use both your hands to achieve this. Let`s start by going over how to use your fretting hand.

Fretting hand technique

When playing ghost notes, avoid touching strings right above the frets. If you do this, your bass will oftentimes produce a harmonic. As harmonics ring out and have a bright sound they produce the opposite effect of what you are looking for in a ghost note.

Instead, press the string halfway down slightly away from the fret . Pressing it halfway is important, as fully fretting it results in a normal bass note. Only gently touching the string results in a harmonic even when not holding your finger directly over the fret.

This can be difficult at first, as your muscle memory will make you want to fully fret strings. To help with this, you can use your other fingers to mute the string further.

For example, let`s say you attempt playing a ghost note by fretting a string halfway down with your middle finger. What you can do then, is to gently bring your ring and little finger down to mute the string.

In order to do this, you need to be somewhat quick, and only gently touch the string with the assisting finger. However, this is a helpful method if you are struggling with notes ringing out.

Plucking hand technique

You can also use your plucking hand to assist with muting strings when playing ghost notes. After plucking the string, you can use another finger, your thumb, or your palm to quickly mute the string.

If you play with your fingers, you can pluck a ghost note with your index finger. Then, bring your middle finger down against the string to quickly mute it. If you play with a floating thumb you can also use your thumb to mute the string, though I find this to be a less beginner-friendly method.

If you play with a pick you can use the palm of your hand to mute the string as detailed in my guide on how to hold a bass pick . Using your palm is also a great way to mute strings when slapping ghost notes.

A less used thrid alternative is to play ghost notes like you were using a pick, but without actually using one. To learn more, check out my article on chucking for bass players .

Ghost note bass exercises

One of my favorite exercises for ghost notes is to gradually include them into a simple bass line. This exercise is suitable for all skill levels as it allows you to go at your own speed. Furthermore, as you improve you can continue to use this exercise by speeding up and using different rhythms.

Let`s start with a simple bass line, that just consists of a C. Play this line at a speed you find comfortable. 100-120 BPM will generally be a good starting point.

Note: Ghost notes are indicated with an “X” in both bass tabs and notation.

ghost notes bass excercise consisting of just regular 8th notes

Now, let`s start by adding one ghost note to the start of the bass line. Make sure that you are able to properly mute it consistently and comfortably before moving to the other exercises.

Bass tab for exeercise with a single ghost note

After mastering the single note, you can start adding a couple more ghost notes.

Bass notes for groovy exercise

Following this, make the ghost note the sole focus of the line, only playing the C intermittently.

Notes and tab for bass line with mostly intermitent C notes

Lastly, switch to solely playing ghost notes. You might even find that playing just ghost notes can be easier than switching between them and regular notes.

tabs and notes for exercise consisting of just ghost notes

I recommend sticking to this exercise for a while if you are looking to master ghost notes. It`s great for developing your control, and it allows you to always be challenged without being overwhelmed as you can always adjust the difficulty.

How to add ghost notes to bass lines

To better understand how to make use of ghost notes, let`s take a look at an example bass line. I will present 4 stages of it, with ghost notes gradually being added to it.

First, let`s listen to the bass line without any ghost notes.

bass tab and notes for bass line without ghost notes

This groove does the job. However, there is little that`s special about it. Now, let`s try adding ghost notes in the place of the rests and listen to how it sounds.

bass tab and notes for bass line that uses ghost notes in place of rests

Notice how the “feel” of the rest is still there. The ghost notes do not change which notes are emphasized. Instead, they add punch to the existing notes by making them sound more lively and funky.

But there are other ways to add ghost notes than to replace rests with them. We can also substitute notes in the melody.

This leads to a more drastic change in the bass line. However, when used in clever and fitting spots, they can make a groove significantly more interesting.

bass tabs bass groove that uses ghost notes in place of melody notes

Notice how adding ghost notes in place of rests added to the line, whereas the above method fundamentally changed the groove.

This can be taken a step further. Instead of changing single notes to ghost notes, we can change a string of them.

bass tabs for groove that uses long strings of ghost notes in place of the melody

The result of this is a completely different bass line. This makes it more difficult to do this well but can make a song as a whole a lot more dynamic when used in the right spots.

Situations, where you might opt for a similar line as the example above, are during short build-ups, transitions, or during a short guitar lick.

Songs with ghost notes in the bass line

The above examples are helpful for understanding in what situations you can add ghost notes. However, to fully understand how this works in songs, it can be helpful to listen to some of the greats.

Furthermore, it`s beneficial to listen to bassists in various genres. This is because ghost notes have been used in everything from Flea`s best bass lines in RHCP to sound funky, to Marcus Miller`s jazzy solo work for a melancholy and smooth sound.

With that, here is a list of 11 songs with ghost notes in the bass line from a wide range of genres and styles:

I especially want to highlight Joe Dart`s line on My First Car . Dart is a bass player who has made ghost notes a major part of his style and used them in creative and unconventional ways.

Thus, I recommend checking this song to get a clear idea of how potent ghost notes can sound when they are used to their fullest:

As you can tell by now, ghost notes are a great way to elevate your bass playing regardless of what genre of music you like.

The technique impacts the overall sound of a song. It gives bassists a new way to lock in with the drummer. It also adds funkiness and groove while helping the bass become more noticeable in the mix.

By practicing muting strings and not letting harmonics ring out, you will be able to play basic ghost notes consistently in no time.

Then, using the exercises above, you can start becoming more comfortable with using the technique in real bass lines. Lastly, with all of the examples above, you will have a great starting point for writing ghost notes into more complex bass lines.

If you follow this recipe, you will be well on your way to sounding funkier, tighter, and more rhythmic in your bass playing.

Ian Partanen

BassOx Founder. Passionate bassist for 15+ years across a vast selection of genres, currently into indie-rock and hip-hop. Bachelor's degree in Musicology from the University of Oslo.

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Mastering Ghost Notes on the Bass Guitar

The Versatility of the Bass Guitar

The beautiful thing about the bass is its versatility. You don’t just have to play root notes of chords, and you don’t even have to play one note at a time. There are tons of techniques to get interesting sounds out of your bass. In this blog and the accompanying tabs and video, I’ll show you how to turn the bass into an almost percussive instrument.

What Are Ghost Notes?

Ghost Notes are created by plucking a bass string, but your fingers are positioned as such so no tone comes from the string. It’s what is also known as a dead note. You can think of this, to an extent, as playing drums on the bass! This style of playing was popularized by the great Jaco Pastorius. See the chorus of “Come On, Come Over” for a notable example of how Ghost Notes can be applied.

The Importance of Timing: Incorporating Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes are best utilized when interspersing them while playing 16th notes. Playing a Ghost Note or dead note as a full, half, quarter, or even 8th note doesn’t really give us the percussive feel we’re going for, but by incorporating them in faster playing, you’ll really get that percussive groove.

Example 1: Getting Started with Ghost Notes

In the below Example 1, I’ve notated a basic exercise for getting started playing Ghost Notes. The Ghost Notes are notated with “X” in the tablature. In the first half of the exercise, the Ghost Notes are played on the same strings as the normal notes. For example, you start on the 5th fret on the A string (a D note). Hit that twice, then lift your fingers slightly to mute the string, and then hit the string twice, and so on. There is your Ghost Notes! In the second half of the exercise, you’re playing the same normal notes, but then playing the Ghost Notes on different strings. While at first glance it may seem that it doesn’t matter what string you play the Ghost Note on, it does. You’ll notice that the sound of the Ghost Note differs on each string.

bass exercises for ghost notes

Example 2: Incorporating Ghost Notes into Your Groove

Example 1 is a simple exercise to get used to playing Ghost Notes. Example 2 is a little bass groove that should give you a better idea of how to incorporate Ghost Notes into your everyday playing. This is a little tricky, so the accompanying video needs to be watched for an explanation of how to play this.

bass exercises for ghost notes

Mastering Ghost Notes: Dedication and Practice

By now, assuming you’ve watched the videos and looked at the corresponding tabs, you can see that this is more of an advanced technique. It takes time and practice to become adept at playing Ghost Notes. However, the dedication will pay off. In addition to allowing for deeper grooves, practicing this technique is a terrific way to get your chops up. I do the Example 1 exercise before gigs to warm my fingers up. I hope this helps you on your bass journey!

Embrace the Percussive Groove with Ghost Notes

Unlocking the percussive potential of the bass guitar is an exciting journey. Ghost Notes offer a unique way to add depth and rhythm to your playing. By incorporating this technique into your repertoire, you can create grooves that captivate and engage your listeners. Take your time, practice diligently, and enjoy the process of mastering Ghost Notes. Your dedication will undoubtedly pay off, opening new avenues of expression on the bass guitar.

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bass exercises for ghost notes

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bass exercises for ghost notes

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The Magic of Bass Grooves with Ghost Notes: Exercise One

bass exercises for ghost notes

Ghost notes are like the secret ingredient that can turn your bass lines into something special. They not only bring groove to your line and phrases but also add a layer of complexity. In this post, we’ll explore a specific rhythm that combines three regular 16th notes with one ghost note.

Let’s Dive In: Tips for Playing Ghost Notes

Here are some essential tips:

  • Volume Control: Try to play the ghost notes at the same volume as the regular 16th notes or perhaps a bit softer. This will not only add dynamics to your playing but also help you master subtlety.
  • Playing at Different Tempos: To improve, practice at various tempos. Start slow; gradually increase the speed as you get comfortable. This way, you’ll not only develop muscle memory but also adaptability.
  • Repetition for Mastery: The key to success is repetition. The more you practice these exercises, the more comfortable you’ll become with ghost note combinations. Soon, you’ll naturally incorporate them into your playing with ease.

Ghost notes open up a world of rhythmic possibilities for bass players. By practicing these exercises, you’ll enhance your groove and rhythmic skills, ultimately transforming your bass lines.

Let the Groove Be Your Guide

So, experiment with tempos, repeat the exercise, and, most importantly, let the groove be your guide.

bass exercises for ghost notes

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bass exercises for ghost notes

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Ghost note exercise.

bass exercises for ghost notes

#BASSNATION in this lesson I’ll be talking to you about ghost notes. Ghost notes are a great way to really dig into and feel the rhythm many times by playing 16th notes. Ghost notes need to be played clean, clear, and precise as well! It’s important to learn the feel of how to play your ghost notes to sound accurate and percussive. Grab your bass and dig in with me!

2 thoughts on “ Ghost Note Exercise ”

Nice concept to practice.

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Ghost Notes On Bass (6 ‘Levels’)

Ghost notes on bass can propel a groove forward like almost nothing else.

Whether you’re playing anything from hard rock to smooth walking bass lines, ghost notes are an incredible way to add spice and flavor – and they just sound cool!

They can add a ton of rhythm, they can make your bass line stand out a bit more – they can literally take a bass line to the next level when you use them the right way.

And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in today’s video. Specifically, I’ll show you:

  • Two ways to play ghost notes (and how it’s best to combine them)
  • The ‘harmonic’ problem that ghost notes create (and how to fix it)
  • Six different ‘levels’ of a bass line that uses ghost notes

And of course, Arnie makes his most egregious cameo to date in this video.

Check out the lesson here:

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FREE -  Download The Tabs, Notation and Practice Track From This Lesson

Start practicing (and mastering ) these 6 Levels of Ghost Notes in less than a minute!

As far as how much you use ghost notes, that’s entirely up to you. You might get to the 3rd or 4th level and say, “That’s enough ghost notes for me. Any more is too much!”

You might be the opposite! You get to Level 6 and say, “That’s it? Let’s keep going all the way to Level 42!”

Like I say in the video, that’s all a matter of personal preference and taste. What’s too much for you may not be enough for someone else and vice versa. 

In either case, using ghost notes on bass to propel just about any groove forward can make any song feel amazing.

As always, if you have questions about ghost notes or anything else bass-related, I’m more than happy to answer them for you. Just leave a comment down below and I’ll do my best to help out.

Good luck with the lesson and happy playing!

ghost notes on bass

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bass exercises for ghost notes

Bass Exercises  -  Ghost Notes Bass Tab

Track: basso - electric bass (finger) revised on: 12/9/2008.

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Mastering Ghost Notes: The Ultimate Funk Bass Technique

Ghost notes are one of the coolest bass techniques.

They add percussion, groove, and panache to your playing and are found in many styles, not just funk. It is used a lot in funk bass though.

If you want to dive deeper into funk bass techniques, style, and theory, I have a whole course:

  • Funk Bass Course

For this lesson, be sure to scroll down to download the free PDF and backing track and to hear the incredible playing in the ghost note playlist I put together...

Ghost Note Backing Track & PDF

Bass guitar ghost note essential listening.

Check out these cool bass lines featuring funky ghost notes! The bass lines, tones, and technique are astounding in these songs. 

Give them a listen and see if you can figure out anything you like the sound of.

Feel The Real - David Bendeth (Randy Bramwell bass)

My Forbidden Lover - Chic (Bernard Edwards bass)

Funk The Dumb Stuff - Tower Of Power (Francis Rocco Prestia bass)

Marcus Miller Slap Bass 

Teen Town Live - Weather Report (Jaco Pastorius bass)

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Bass Road

Raking Ghost Notes Groove

by Bogdan Radovic | Jun 3, 2019 | Uncategorized

bass exercises for ghost notes

Course Description (click to expand)

Learn how to play raking ghost notes to funkify your grooves.

This course features a professional bass player and teacher Fernando Lima from Brazil. His sense of groove and technique are impeccable and you’re bound to make heaps of progress by mastering his bass lines.

This lesson series starts from grounds up, where you’ll learn how to play ghost (dead) notes on the bass using both regular and also raking technique. These two techniques are building blocks of funk bass and mastering them will bring you one step closer to sounding like a pro.

You’ll learn how to play the Raking Ghost Notes Groove featuring instructor  Fernando Lima , step-by-step and with the help of accurate tabs and slow-playing videos. Fernando will show you all the tasty licks and tricks so that you can learn how to play this groove.

Learning how to play this tasty groove will help you get better at ghost notes playing technique, while having heaps of fun. You’ll also push your general technique chops to another level along the ride.

Finally, we included a set of practical exercises that you can do to build your ghost notes chops in the woodshed.

This course includes:

  • PDF & Guitar Pro tabs
  • Backing tracks for jamming and practice
  • Downloadable backing tracks in mp3 format
  • Unlimited help and instructor feedback

So are you ready for a funky ride? Let’s do it!

Who this course is for:

  • Bass players looking to make their bass lines more groovy & percussive
  • Those bass players who would like to enrich their rhythm skills with new embellishments
  • Bass players struggling to jam over funk and jazz backing tracks
  • Regular folks just looking to have fun on the bass
  • This course is not for those bass players who have a band nickname Flea or Rocco
  • This course is not for students attending Berklee or any other famous music school, studying “Whiplash” style
  • This course is not for you if you are a ghost notes wizard / experienced live performer.
  • This course is not for you if you are looking to learn in-depth funk bass concepts

  What you’ll learn

  • How to play ghost (dead) notes on bass using fingerstyle technique
  • How to use the raking technique on bass and apply it to ghost notes playing
  • Learn a challenging funky bass groove that incorporates dead notes
  • Become more confident with 16th notes rhythm subdivisions
  • Practice ultra-efficient ghost (dead) notes exercises
  • Improve your overall bass technique

This lesson series features a guest instructor Fernando Lima from Brazil.

With his amazing groove, funky technique & licks – you’re bound to be inspired!

Course Content

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bass exercises for ghost notes

IMAGES

  1. How To Play Funky Ghost Note Basslines

    bass exercises for ghost notes

  2. Ghost notes #10 Exercises for Bass Guitar

    bass exercises for ghost notes

  3. Bass Exercises "Ghost Notes" Bass tablature and notes

    bass exercises for ghost notes

  4. How To Play Ghost Notes On Bass

    bass exercises for ghost notes

  5. How To Play Ghost Notes On Bass

    bass exercises for ghost notes

  6. How To Play Bass // Ghost Note Exercises // #TeachMeTuesday

    bass exercises for ghost notes

VIDEO

  1. Beginner to pro bass. ways to create basslines, bassfills, basslicks, ghostnotes & slapbass #shorts

  2. PLAY SICK GHOST NOTES WITH THIS RIGHT HAND TRICK (Bass Lesson)

  3. Bass Chord Progression Exercise [Sounds Awesome!]

  4. Grooving With MANY GHOST NOTES #bassguitar #basslessons #groove

  5. PLAY GHOST NOTES LIKE A PRO (Jaco Style Bass Lesson)

  6. Latihan Ghost Note Pada Bass

COMMENTS

  1. How To Play Ghost Notes On The Bass (With Examples)

    First, let`s listen to the bass line without any ghost notes. Example 1. This groove does the job. However, there is little that`s special about it. Now, let`s try adding ghost notes in the place of the rests and listen to how it sounds. Example 2. Notice how the "feel" of the rest is still there.

  2. How To Play Ghost Notes On Bass

    Ghost Notes Bass Guitar Technique. To play a ghost note, you first need to mute the string you are playing on. Do this with the fretting hand, by resting one or more fingers on the string you intend to play a ghost note on. Rest your finger on the string, but do not press down on any of the frets. The goal is to just lean on the string with ...

  3. How To Play Funky Ghost Note Basslines

    Ghost notes are notes that are muted while they are plucked to give a percussive sound. They are often used before a note to give a funky feel to the line. To play a ghost note, you simply need to rest the left hand over the string to deaden it and pluck with the right hand. Playing closer to the bridge where there is more tension will make ...

  4. Ghost Notes (Pt1)

    Download the FREE workbook with TAB/Notation here: https://learn.scottsbasslessons.com/l-040-041-bass-ghost-notes =====...

  5. Mastering Ghost Notes

    Learn the ultimate funky, percussive technique in this bass guitar tutorial. Ghost notes will make you sound awesome!Download the free PDF and backing track ...

  6. Mastering Ghost Notes on the Bass Guitar

    The Ghost Notes are notated with "X" in the tablature. In the first half of the exercise, the Ghost Notes are played on the same strings as the normal notes. For example, you start on the 5th fret on the A string (a D note). Hit that twice, then lift your fingers slightly to mute the string, and then hit the string twice, and so on.

  7. Ghost Notes

    I go into ghost notes a lot in my book 100 Funk Bass Grooves. If you want to delve further into ghost notes and articulations (hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, slides, vibrato) then take a look at these video lessons: Learn This Cool Bass Lick! (Hammer-Ons, Pull-Offs, Ghost Notes, Raking, Slides)\

  8. The Magic of Bass Grooves with Ghost Notes: Exercise One

    Ghost notes open up a world of rhythmic possibilities for bass players. By practicing these exercises, you'll enhance your groove and rhythmic skills, ultimately transforming your bass lines. Let the Groove Be Your Guide. So, experiment with tempos, repeat the exercise, and, most importantly, let the groove be your guide.

  9. Ghost Notes On Bass

    For this bass guitar lesson I'll show you how to incorporate ghost notes into your playing. Ghost notes, also called dead notes or mute notes, add a percussi...

  10. Ghost (dead) Notes on Bass Lesson

    Okay, so I wanted to make a really handy lesson for you on how to play ghost notes on the bass. Ghost notes are like a secret to groovy bass playing and all real bass players play ghost notes all over the place. This technique is a must-have for any bass player, there's no way around it. Some techniques you can skip (like slapping - but ...

  11. How To Play Slap Bass

    Exercise 1. In the first exercise, simply slap a bar of four quarter notes on the open E string on a nice even measure (no need to go fast), but mute each second note. Then repeat the exercise across all four strings. This is a simple exercise that should help you get used to simply muting the string.

  12. Ghost Note Exercise

    Ghost Note Exercise. #BASSNATION in this lesson I'll be talking to you about ghost notes. Ghost notes are a great way to really dig into and feel the rhythm many times by playing 16th notes. Ghost notes need to be played clean, clear, and precise as well! It's important to learn the feel of how to play your ghost notes to sound accurate and ...

  13. Ghost Notes With Pentatonic Bass Fills (Free Backing track/TAB

    Learn how to play a ghost note bass line and sharpen your bass technique at the same time. ... Learn how to play a ghost note bass line and sharpen your bass technique at the same time. Get the ...

  14. Ghost Notes On Bass (6 'Levels')

    And that's exactly what you'll learn in today's video. Specifically, I'll show you: Two ways to play ghost notes (and how it's best to combine them) The 'harmonic' problem that ghost notes create (and how to fix it) Six different 'levels' of a bass line that uses ghost notes. And of course, Arnie makes his most egregious cameo ...

  15. How To Use Ghost Notes On Bass [6 'Levels']

    FREE: Get the tabs, notation and practice track for all 6 levels of ghost notes that I talk about in this lesson → https://becomeabassist.com/ghost-notes-...

  16. Ghost Notes Bass Tab by Bass Exercises

    Revised on:12/9/2008. Ghost Notes Bass Tab by Bass Exercises. Free online tab player. One accurate version. Recommended by The Wall Street Journal.

  17. Ghost Note Groove With Pentatonic Fills (Free Backing track/TAB)

    Ghost notes add a percussive funk to your playing. They take a while to get used to as the pressure you exert with your fretting hand is altered depending on whether you're fretting as normal or ghosting. ... Join 10,000 + getting free bass tips lessons, and news every Sunday. My weekly Bass Bites newsletter is packed full of bass tips, news ...

  18. Mastering Ghost Notes: The Ultimate Funk Bass Technique

    Ghost notes are one of the coolest bass techniques. They add percussion, groove, and panache to your playing and are found in many styles, not just funk. It is used a lot in funk bass though. If you want to dive deeper into funk bass techniques, style, and theory, I have a whole course: Funk Bass Course. For this lesson, be sure to scroll down ...

  19. Raking Ghost Notes Groove Bass Lesson

    Learning how to play this tasty groove will help you get better at ghost notes playing technique, while having heaps of fun. You'll also push your general technique chops to another level along the ride. Finally, we included a set of practical exercises that you can do to build your ghost notes chops in the woodshed. This course includes:

  20. Turbo Charge Your Ghost Notes With One Finger!

    In the video above I show you the technique for raking along the strings with one finger as a means of developing a cascade of ghost notes. The following bass line can be used to practice raking over two strings: three Strings: or even Four Strings: Obviously adding these ghost notes in this way has to be practiced until it becomes second ...

  21. How to Play Ghost Notes on Bass Guitar

    George Urbaszek of http://www.creativebasslessons.com/ shows how you can play and use ghost notes on bass guitar.The slow Bossa Nova backing track is from Ba...

  22. Mastering Ghost Notes For A More Funky Bass Groove!!

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