Recently I’ve had a few requests for lessons on bass runs. So here are a few simple examples to get you started

Simple Pentatonic Bass Runs

The term ‘bass run’ covers a pretty wide range of stuff, so we are going to concentrate on runs that act as simple fills. That doesn’t mean however that they can’t be used just as easily in a variety of different settings.

The runs in this lesson are all built from the A minor pentatonic scale and will work over most minor and dominant chords. If you did the previous lesson on this subject you will remember that the only non-chord tones in the scale were the 2nd, 4th and 6th. Notice that the pentatonic omits the 2nd and 6th so the only note we have to be careful of is the 4th. This is why the minor pentatonic works so well in loads of different situations.

Familiarise yourself with the A minor pentatonic scale here:

A  C  D  E  G
1   3   4  5   7 

Run #1

This first run simply descends the minor pentatonic scale in 16th notes and ends on the 7th to lead it back to the root.

To apply this run to a bass line, we can create a groove by doubling the kick drum pattern and adding the run to the last two beats of the second bar.

(1) e (+) a 2 e (+) a 3 e + a 4 e + a
(1) e (+) a 2 e (+) a (3) (e) (+) (a) (4) (e) (+) a 

( ) – Bass notes
Red – Pulse

Run #2

This run is very similar to the first, except we have added a chromatic note to the descent between the 4th and 5th (Eb). This adds a bluesy feel and is reminiscent of the A minor blues scale.

We can also add this to the same groove as the first:

(1) e (+) a 2 e (+) a 3 e + a 4 e + a
(1) e (+) a 2 e (+) a (3) (e) (+) (a) (4) (e) (+) (a) 

Run #3

To make it easier to learn this next riff, we need to look at an extended version of the A minor pentatonic scale – this gives us a few extra notes to play with.

(1) e (+) a 2 e (+) a 3 e + a 4 e + a
(1) (e) (+) (a) (2) (e) (+) (a) (3) (e) (+) (a) (4) (e) (+) a 

Run #4

This run is pretty similar to the previous, but it incorporates the chromatic note we used in run #2.



(1) e (+) a 2 e (+) a 3 e + a 4 e + a
(1) (e) (+) (a) (2) (e) (+) (a) (3) (e) (+) (a) (4) (e) (+) (a)

Backing Tracks

80 BPM

90 BPM

100 BPM

110 BPM

120 BPM

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