Hysteria technique question

I was watching a few youtube tutorials for “Hysteria” by Muse - Josh’s is excellent - and there’s something I don’t understand. In the second half of the first bar literally every person I found plays it by staying on the A string and going down to the 5th to 8th frets, like this:

A: 0 0 10 0 10 12 0 10   0 7 0 8 8 7 5 7      

I don’t get it. Wouldn’t it be simpler to play that on the E string? Your fingers are already there, and the start of the second measure comes back up there anyway.

I tried it like this:

A: 0 0 10 0 10 12 0 10   0    0        
E:                         12   13 13 12 10 12

keeping to a box around the 10th-13th fret, and it seemed easier to me, despite the added string crossing. That said, I’m a long way from being able to play this at even half speed very well, and as mentioned 100% of the ones I watched played it the first way, and so does Wolstenholme, so I assume I am missing something.

Does that added string crossing just become cumbersome at full tempo? It’s kind of a relentless bassline so I could understand that.

I love this bassline so I’m kind of making it my (very) long term goal.


First off - Kudos for trying to work out different fingerings, and having a justification for changing it. I like your approach.

This riff is a bit different then an average bass line, where you try and economize your movement and such. Because it is built off of that open A string drone, playing things off of the A string becomes a stylistic change above and beyond a fingering choice.
That open A string bouncing back and forth between the fretted notes becomes the stylistic feel for the entire thing.
In order to keep the original sound and feel of the bass line, you gotta play it on the open A string, even though - as you correctly point out - it may be more seemingly economical or practical to move the E and F onto the E string.

That’s what I say. I’d be interested to hear what other people have to say on it.


Thanks Gio, that makes sense, in a stylistic sense. It’s also certainly more economical on the right hand as well in a song that is already pretty driving.

I don’t mind the shifting down to the lower frets - I generally have to shift a lot anyway due to poor pinky reach - I just didn’t get it :slight_smile:


@howard That is an excellent question! . . . I’m nowhere near that playing level yet but I looked at that baseline and Josh’s video, and this didn’t occur to me until I read your post.

So, ditto the kudos that @Gio gave you in his reply . . . :slight_smile: And after thinking about he said, yeah, the “droning” of the open A string is what makes it work.

I’m really learning a LOT by hanging around here!

All best, Joe


+1 this! But it’s great you’re trying out different fingerings.


Agreed. It’s great that @howard questions this right? But yr right of course. That “bounce”! It’s all about that bounce. And also @howard, once you incorporate that bounce into the technique of the thing it will surprise you how quickly the rest will come. Not that I can play it at tempo!


Yup yup, once I got more into practicing it that way it was clearly correct.