Improvisation for Bass Guitar #1 – Getting Started

2018-11-13T11:58:19+00:00February 9th, 2014|Categories: Bass Improvisation|22 Comments

This is the first in the Talking Bass series of lessons on Bass Improvisation from Mark J Smith. This lesson covers the absolute basics of getting started with bass soloing and improvising. The fundamental aspects of improvising are covered along with some basic exercises for introducing the beginner to spontaneous creativity.

button black and white

Remember to LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, SHARE THE POST (just click on your preferred social platform below) and then …

Sign Up To Talkingbass For FREE!

Join over 40,000 members and R.A.I.S.E your Bass Game Today!

FREE Ebook Downloads, Practice Tracks, Drum Tracks and MUCH MORE!

Join Now!!


  1. Steve February 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Really awesome lesson, thank you. Before even playing, just seeing the new lessons creeping closer to the 30 minute mark, I know they’re going to be loaded with great detail. I’m quite new to soloing/improv in a melodic sense, so this is great foundational training!

  2. Ben February 11, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Great explanation again.

    Thanks a lot for the vids.


  3. Malakia Takane February 11, 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

    I really would love to learn some improvisations.Could you please help?

  4. […] Lesson 1 – How To Get Started With Improvisation […]

  5. Gerry September 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Cracking lesson. I’ve been playing with a Jazz combo for about 8yr now and I sometimes get called on to do a solo, especially on a Blues number but I’ve always known I’m really just playing lines. I’m more than happy to go right back to the beginning to learn proper solos. Thanks a lot Mark.

  6. Joaquin September 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    My usual problem is I can’t play what I have in my mind. I don’t know how to do it on the fretboard. These excercises seem to be helpful to associate the notes with their postion in the scale and be able to follow with my hands what I’m wanting to play. Any advice?

    • Juan Carlos Luna Cardozo January 30, 2015 at 6:48 am - Reply

      I would recomend you to start doing less notes, start with 2 notes as the video indicates. Jam for half an hour or more with two notes, trust me you wont get bored hehehe. then add a new note of the scale, and so on. (use some A7 backing track from youtube or the ones in the Library) eventually you will get more used to the notes and your ideas will move your fingers for you. (thats the secret of the intensive intruments practice, making it unconscious)

      • Joaco January 30, 2015 at 3:29 pm - Reply

        Thanks, Juan Carlos. I understand but my concern is more about improvising in chord progressions. Your advice still applies but is there anything more to add?

  7. Lee November 1, 2014 at 7:00 am - Reply

    Great stuff! I’ve been playing for decades, and at a high level in many areas–but soloing has mostly eluded me. Thanks for the great lesson and for the timely warnings about being willing to go back to basics when it comes to improvisation.

  8. Dave Whitaker November 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Wow, great lesson! That’s some of the most useful information I’ve seen.

  9. Juan Carlos Luna Cardozo January 30, 2015 at 6:41 am - Reply

    This is quite fun, I did a 30min 2 notes improv hahahaha. Then I did use the Mixolydian scale for another 30 min.

    I guess the key is to have fun just by doing it.

  10. Jon Mellor February 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Great lesson. I’ve been playing for years but never been confident soloing. Always assumed my brain didn’t work quick enough. Maybe there is hope after all!

  11. Lou L March 27, 2015 at 7:33 am - Reply

    Great stuff simple to the point great way to start.

  12. Raymond DeJesus October 20, 2015 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    Great lesson.

  13. Ray Sareth July 9, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    thanks for lessons

  14. Frank Deni March 6, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    I wanted to ask you a question about the sound you are getting from your bass. I currently own a Fender Jazz Bass and a Warwick Thumb Bolt and I go through a Mark Bass amp. (1 x 12″ Speaker). My question is what do you use to get that, “Pastorius” type sound? I live in Toronto Canada and am currently following the following areas on your Website – Reading, Improvisation and Music Theory for bass.

    • Talkingbass-Mark March 6, 2018 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      Try soloing the bridge pickup on the jazz. Roll off the tone and pick near the bridge. That should help.

  15. jos Van Wassenhove June 30, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Hey Marc, Greetings from Antwerp Belgium.

    May I ask You some help?

    I tried to download the pdf for your chapter of improvisation.
    This chapters I could not find:

    – How to get started
    – Introduction to Phrasing
    – Styling: vibrato, dynamics etc

    The other chapters I have downloaded.
    I need this pdf to be able to follow Your lesson.


    Jos Van Wassenhove 68 years young, bassist from Busker Company. Sorry for my poor English writing

  16. Robert Conti August 2, 2018 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Marrrrrrk!! Simply you are a huge Bass talent in every aspect. You’re not a bragger so maybe some people don’t get it. I took a small package of lessons years ago from a world re-known player and I know he would have gotten around to really teaching me the good stuff but I always felt so incompetent around him at lessons and his lessons seemed like they made no sense because they were all scales and modes without application. I know better than to think that now but as an advanced player I learn things easily from you that were still unclear. I hate it that a beginner can become really good in such a short time just by joining you but that is really a Major Compliment to YOU!! THANK YOU.

  17. Marvin December 1, 2018 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    God bless you

  18. Abel Ortega January 17, 2019 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Mark, Thank you so much, I have been watching your stuff for the last month or so and it’s really helped my playing..God Bless

Leave A Comment