1st October 2020

What is Hip?

I am currently making a video lesson in memory of Francis Rocco Prestia who passed away a couple of days ago.  If you are not aware of Rocco, he was the driving force behind Tower Of Power.  He was the king of 16th notes, and there are so many examples of his powerful style of bass playing.  I was fortunate enough to play for a while in a Tower Of Power covers band, and to this day that is still one of my favourite gigs.  The bass lines are very demanding to play, and you need to be in serious form to survive the whole gig!

Greg's Bass Shed lesson on Francis Rocco Prestia

In this article, I am going to show you part of a transcription of Rocco's bass line from 'What Is Hip?' by Tower Of Power.  I am only featuring the main riff from this bass line in the video lesson, but here you get a chance to see the intro, verse and chorus, and hear me play it.  I think that as soon as you see the opening 8 or so bars, you will understand why these bass lines are so demanding! 

If you have not heard this tune before then definitely check it out before going any further.


One particular technique that Rocco used all the time was the use of muted notes.  If he was playing a long line of 16th notes, he would often put in muted notes in odd places.  This has to effect of adding serious funk to the bass line, in rather the same way that Jaco use to.  Although both of their styles of playing were very different.  So when you come to try out this bass line, pick through the muted notes very carefully from bar 14 onwards. 

Rocco also used an overall muting effect with the fingers of his fretting hand and this gives him a very distinctive sound.  This is a great technique to learn as you can use it in lots of situations.  When you are playing the repeated E's on the 7th fret of the A string, use your 1st finger on E, then try and lightly mute the strings with your other fingers.

Another tip is to shift to playing the E's with your 2nd finger when you get to bar 8.  That way you can play the high D's with your 3rd finger.

transcription of what is Hip bass line by Rocco Prestia
what is hip bass line tab transcription
what is hip bass line tab transcription


This is a hard bass line to play in time at full speed, so slow it right down at first.  Even the repeated E's are hard to play perfectly in time!

If you are not too familiar with Tower Of Power, then check out my video lesson No.109 which is out on Friday 9th October.