This week I’ve got a tough little exercise for you all to try: This is the One String Bass Challenge!

The Challenge

The challenge is as follows:

Play a two feel bass line through a jazz standard progression on ONLY one string.

This exercise will test your knowledge of the fretboard, your theory knowledge, your position shifting, your walking bass ability and your familiarity with that whatever song you learning.

Autumn Leaves

We can use the first 16 bars of Autumn Leaves as an example for this lesson. For our two feel, play the root on beat one and the 5th of the chord on beat three.

Playing root-fifth on a single string requires you to know the notes for each fifth interval without relying on fretboard patterns. It also requires you to know the notes on the fretboard and have the technical facility to position shift up and down the string.

Tips For Mastering This Challenge

  • Learn to read music. This will improve your fretboard knowledge
  • Try note finding tests
  • Learn your intervals via spelling drills
  • Study Chord Tones/Harmony. This will help you understand the chords in the progression
  • Don’t use a track or click when practicing the challenge. Just work out the notes in your own time.

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