Bass: Walking Bass

The following exercises demonstrate different approaches for developing a walking bass vocabulary. The notes are only written to show the principles of each exercise. You should practice each exercise with real standards. Focus on consistently applying the particular principle first, then experiment, mix it with other approaches and find your own variations.

Chromatic Approach Below
Approach the next chord by playing a note a half-tone below the root of the following chord.
Chromatic Approach Below
Chromatic Approach Above
Approach the next chord by playing a note a half-tone above the root of the following chord.
Chromatic Approach Above
Diatonic Approach Below
Approach the next chord by playing a diatonic note below the root of the following chord.
Diatonic Approach Below
Diatonic Approach Above
Approach the next chord by playing a diatonic note above the root of the following chord.
Diatonic Approach Above
Descending Fifth Approach Below
Approach the next chord by playing the fifth of the root of the following chord.
Descending Fifth Approach Below
Descending Fifth Approach Above
Approach the next chord by playing the fifth of the root of the following chord.
Descending Fifth Approach Above
Thirds
Focus on the thirds when building lines.
Thirds
Fifths
Focus on the fifths when building lines.
Fifths
Starting on the Third
Start each chord on the third.
Starting on the Third
Starting on the Fifth
Start each chord on the fifth.
Starting on the Fifth
Sevenths
Focus on the sevenths when building lines.
Sevenths
Triads
Play the underlying triads. Break the triad in different places and vary the note order.
Triads
Seventh Chords
Play the underlying seventh chords. Break the chords in different places and vary the note order.
Seventh Chords
Scales
Try to fill the bars by playing the scales of the chords. Add chromatic passing notes where necessary. Use any of the approach notes of the first six exercises.
Scales
Chromatic Passing Notes in Major
In this example, a chromatic passing note is added between the perfect 5th and the major 6th.
Chromatic Passing Notes in Major
Chromatic Passing Notes in Mixolydian
In mixolydian, you can add a chromatic passing note between the minor 7th and the root.
Chromatic Passing Notes in Mixolydian
Chromatic Passing Notes in Dorian
In dorian minor, you can add a chromatic passing note between the minor 7th and the root when ascending and between the major 6th and the perfect 5th when descending.
Chromatic Passing Notes in Dorian
Close Movement
Try playing the changes while keeping the movement to a minimum.
Close Movement
Close Chromatic Movement
Try playing the changes while keeping the movement to a minimum and using chromatic notes to connect the important notes.
Close Chromatic Movement
Rhythmic Variation 1
Add some rhythmic variation by adding an eighth note here and there. Be tasteful. If you overdo it, it will sound bumpy. The main information is still the quarter note pulse, and your variations shouldn’t detract from it.
Rhythmic Variation 1
Rhythmic Variation 2: Open Strings
Utilise the open string below for rhythmic variation. The notes on the open string should have a percussive quality, so you can use it even if it doesn’t exactly fit the chord your playing.
Rhythmic Variation 2: Open Strings
Rhythmic Variation 3
This is a variation using 8-5-1.
Rhythmic Variation 3
Rhythmic Variation 4
Play some descending triplets.
Rhythmic Variation 4