This week we’re looking at a great bass line for beginners by jazz legend Herbie Hancock : Chameleon from the Head Hunters album.

Chameleon – Herbie Hancock

This funk bass line is great to learn for players of all levels from beginner to advanced.

Practice Track:

Chameleon Breakdown

This bass riff makes use of chord tones and chromatic approach. The chord progression moves from Bbm7 to Eb7 which we can play on bass as the following arpeggios:

By learning chord tones as arpeggios you can learn how to outline a progression and create a more melodic bass line. Chameleon makes us of the root, flat 7 and 5th chord tones.

The Chameleon Synth Tone

The chameleon bass line was originally played on an ARP Odyssey synth.

If you want to replicate this kind of tone you have the option of either finding a synth pedal or midi setup that accurately reproduces that tone….

OR you can try using a simple DIY version of the sound by making use of a fuzz pedal and an envelope filter.

Set the distortion pedal to a low level of fuzz (this emulates the sawtooth waveform). You can use any brand or model of distortion. In the video I made use of a Big Muff Deluxe:

Next connect the distortion directly into an envelope filter. In the video I used an MXR Envelope Filter:

This combination of pedals won’t be exact but you’ll have a funky, synth-like sound somewhere in the Chameleon ballpark. Try experimenting with other pedals and settings!

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