4 Simple Bass Fills For Beginners

2018-11-11T09:43:29+00:00March 2nd, 2018|Categories: Bass Line Writing|13 Comments

This is the first video in a series of lessons looking at the basics of bass fills. We’re going to be looking at a simple and common four bar chord progression and working through several bass fills on the final bar of A7.

Bass Fill Basics

You can insert fills wherever you like in a tune but they’re more common as a transition from one section to another. So that could be something dramatic like a verse into a chorus or just to signal the end of a four bar chord sequence.

We’re going to look at a simple four bar chord progression in the key of D Major. We’ll take a progression that outlines the key very well and that gives us a predictable journey back into the tonic chord.

Here we have a I-vi-ii-V progression of Dmaj7 – Bm7 – Em7 – A7:

First we need a bass line…

In terms of the general bass line, I’m playing a simple comp pattern on the root notes around the 5th to 7th fret area:

Learn Those Chord Tones!

We’re going to play a bass fill over the A7 chord. That’s going to lead us back into Tonic Chord (Dmaj7) giving us a fill at the end of a predictable four bar sequence.

In this lesson we’re just going to start really simple by using the basic chord tones for our fills. Our fill is over the A7 chord so we’re going to use the notes of the A7 chord:

A C# E G

We can play them here within one octave:

We can play those notes anywhere on the fingerboard. For this lesson we’ll just venture out a few notes, both above and below, to give us a little more real estate to play with:

If you need any help understanding chord tones or how they relate to the bass fingerboard, be sure to check out the Chord Tone Essentials course. You’ll learn the construction of EVERY chord you’ll ever encounter, how to view them over the entire neck of the bass and how to apply them in your basslines, fills and solos. Click Here For More Information!

Bass Fill #1

This first bass fill simply works up and down the A7 arpeggio from our low A at the 5th fret of the E string. This is a very simple way of applying the chord tones in a bass fill:

Bass Fill #2

When improvising a bass line through a chord progression, it’s unlikely you’ll always be using the same notes on the same frets. This fill starts on the high A at the 7th fret of the D string which expands our vocabulary a little. It’s always useful to practice working in different areas of the instrument:

Bass Fill #3

Let’s try something with a little more rhythmic interest. This fill covers a wider range and brings a 16th note triplet into play.

Bass Fill #4

The final bass fill, like our previous example, uses a little more rhythmic interest and a broader range. We also get to use a bass chord by sliding into the major 3rd and minor 7th of the chord. This is a VERY common way of applying chords to basslines and fills over a dominant 7 chord.

Ramp Up That Tension!

As an extra tip, try to focus on using syncopated rhythms, like offbeat 8th and 16th notes, to generate tension from a rhythmic perspective. Tension is an important element in creating fills of any kind because tension is always looking to resolve. Resolution is created in these examples by landing on beat 1 of the bar on the tonic chord.

Download or View Lesson Material

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  1. Stephan Meinl March 3, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark, is the backing track available for download as well?

  2. Lars Huus March 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    backing track?

  3. Keith Newman March 5, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    As a beginner, this is a lot of fun. Thanks Mark!

  4. kevin oliver March 5, 2018 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Love the way u explain thinks playing for yrs and sing lots so it takes away from the bas playing espicaly in songs like spookie Atlanta rhytium section were are the backing tracks marck

  5. Enoch Amoo March 6, 2018 at 3:21 am - Reply

    you are too good God bless you. can i get the backing track of the 4 Simple Bass Fills For Beginners. thanks

  6. Talkingbass-Mark March 6, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Backing track and material all there now. Dig in guys and gals!

  7. Tony A March 7, 2018 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark, from Canada…Awesome lesson, well explained and informative as usual.


  8. Jake March 13, 2018 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Mark, Great lesson.. very practical. Good info even for all players who need some work on their fills! Thanks from the US.

  9. Ed Hackett March 18, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Hey Mark. Would it be possible to include the text on the PDF pages?

  10. Alphonce Anthony March 21, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark , thanks for your lessons ,i got question about slap bass .i really want to know if i will be able to play slap bass with high action ?

  11. Daniel November 5, 2018 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    You Mark are such a great and awesome teacher, thank you much!

  12. DB Banez November 5, 2018 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    You Mark are such a great and awesome teacher, thank you much!

  13. Kdu Bonalume January 14, 2019 at 10:12 am - Reply

    dude, best tutorial I’ve found. Thanks!!!

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