Walking Bass Lines #2 – Using Chord Tones/Arpeggios

2017-11-05T14:09:45+00:00June 22nd, 2014|Categories: Walking Bass Lines|17 Comments

This is the second lesson in the series devoted to walking bass lines. This lesson is the first look into how we construct the actual lines and starts with a primer on Arpeggios or Chord Tones. Chord Tones should be the first stop on the road to learning how to play walking bass lines.

When we see a chord progression and need to create a walking bass line, the chords are provided so they are the first clue as to what melodic building blocks are available. Scales can be deduced from the progression by knowing a little functional harmony but chords are right there on the chart so it’s imperative that we learn them.

This lesson covers the three most popular chords: Major 7, Dominant 7 and Minor 7. Each chord is shown in basic arpeggio form before moving into more useful fingering patterns that cover every chord tone in each possible position. This is very useful in weaving a walking bass line through a chord progression while holding one position.

Remember to download the Lesson Material. You’ll receive a PDF of all the lines played in the lesson, an arpeggio reference sheet and the backing tracks in C major and F major.


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View Lesson Material PDF

It’s a long lesson so here’s an index for anyone needing to move to certain areas:

02:00 – Root Note Targeting

06:50 – Major 7, Minor 7 and Dominant 7 Arpeggios

10:09 – Arpeggios through the chord progression

12:34 – The Three Fingering Patterns for each Arpeggio (1st, 2nd, 4th finger)

16:47 – New fingerings through the progression

19:56 – Extending the patterns within a position

34:25 – Constructing the line

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  1. jay June 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Awesome lesson and walking bass line series you have going on. I believe it might finally start to “click” for me. Appreciate your help. It might just be me, but I did not see a PDF to go with this lesson. thanks again, jay

    • Mark June 25, 2014 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Coming soon.

      • jay June 29, 2014 at 1:07 am - Reply

        Mark—just downloaded the info for this lesson. Much thanks. Greetings from Texas.

  2. Kaan June 23, 2014 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Its been approx 3-4 months that i follow the lessons and its really surprising to see progress with my playing on the bass and my music teory knowledge is getting better and better. Thank you for your hard work.

    And I really recommend Mark’s study book of bass guitar. It is big help to hand positions and building walking bass lines.

    • Mark June 25, 2014 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Thanks very much. Good that people are digging the Study Book Of Scales.

  3. William Rees June 24, 2014 at 4:36 am - Reply

    I like the way you are teaching, keep up the good work. I have a question after watch this video, I can’t find the download site for the backing track, please advise to where it is at. I have signed up for other bass web sites, but none is as good as yours. William Rees

    • Mark June 25, 2014 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Thanks a lot William. The download will be coming up shortly.

  4. Shay Levy September 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mark, as always, great lesson!
    I believe the first fingering (middle position)) in the “Tri Shape Fingerings (3 patterns per Chord)” section in the Arpeggio Reference Sheet
    is wrong. It should start on the E string, currently is starts on the A string..

  5. James Hamraski June 11, 2015 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    This is excellent and I truly appreciate it! Maybe you already have this in another lesson, but are you going to cover ideas for walking over a blues, where we have multiple measures of each chord?

    • Bill Rees June 16, 2015 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      This the kind of information I need to see where I am at with my bass playing, You are a good teacher and I wish I had discovered you sight sooner, If you ever find the time to make available you lessons on Pay pal Credit, that not paypal, they messed up my checking account a couple of years ago and I got rid of all my credit cards and if I need anything I find it on Ebay and pay for it with paypal credit. This way the seller gets his money then and I have a month to pay them it has worked out well for me and other sellers and buyers. Thanks again for this information. Bill

  6. jorge September 4, 2015 at 5:38 am - Reply

    Gracias, lo encontré por casualidad en you tube, y ya me suscribí, las lecciones me parecen buenas y el método excelente, podrías hacer la traducción al spanish. te lo agradeceríamos . Te seguire!!! y a tus lecciones.

  7. Hans September 12, 2015 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    The Apreggio Reference Sheet has another mistake besides the A-string and E-string mismatch as mentioned by Shay. The 2nd tri shape fingering position for Cm7 is incorrect, it shows the Cmaj7 fingering position. Thanks again for the excellent lessons Mark.

  8. Tony Marriott November 7, 2015 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Thanks Mark you are easy to follow I am still at basic stages and do have difficulty with the little finger which will probably get better with practice do you thin that the apreggio scales will improve this, or should I try some other method.

  9. juliet August 24, 2017 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    First time it was made clear to me that it’s important to learn the finger positions. No wonder I was so clunky before.

  10. IceQueeny July 31, 2018 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    This was very useful. Thank you. Now I know what I want to practice (chord arpeggios for now)
    I however extended the Arpeggio reference sheet to add a 5th string (quick and dirty) 🙂

    Blue: fits in the scale; Grey: “out of bounds”

  11. Martin Chambers August 19, 2018 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    thankyou for a brilliant easy to follow lesson

  12. james chua September 11, 2018 at 6:02 am - Reply

    Nice lesson, i have some question in my mind. what if the chord progression has no 7th just Cmaj – Am – Dm – G. how do i replace those 7th notes ?

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