This lesson is the first in a series of lessons devoted to walking bass lines. I take you through the basic concepts behind walking like targeting chord tones, arpeggio / scale / chromatic based lines and the other elements of walking bass.
P.S. For a complete guide to Walking Bass Lines be sure to check out the full Talkingbass course here
For this lesson you will need a good understanding of intervals and the notes on the neck. Check out the lessons on those subjects before continuing with this one! (Links at the bottom)
What Is A Walking Bass Line?
A walking bass line walks between chords, outlining the harmony and using quarter notes to keep a steady rhythm. We generally walk with a swing feel, so we are more likely to play a walking bass line in styles where swing is most commonly used, like jazz and blues.
We are going to be looking at improvising walking bass lines through a standard type of chord progression with one chord every bar. You’ll often see two or more chords per bar and sometimes you’ll find one chord stretched out over several bars.
The most important thing we need to think about when we improvise a walking line through a chord progression is targeting. This is when you target a particular note in the following chord – it can be a chord tone or even a non-chord tone. The idea is that you start planning a route to the next chord by targetting a certain note. To practice this, let’s take a four-bar chord progression in the key of C:
C Maj 7 | Am7 | Dm7 | G7
To create a walking bass line through the first bar of this, we need to see it as a progression from C to A, rather than just a bar of C.
Remember that there are loads of different ways to get from one chord to another, here are a few different things you can try:
- Chromatic approach notes
- Diatonic approach notes
- Scale degrees
Now try coming up with your own walking bass line for this progression – there is an example below!
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Exactly what I am working on right now, haven’t watched yet but if it’s anything like your other lessons it’ll be excellent!
Now if you would do Iron Maiden songs I’d be eternally greatful…..:D
Excellent lesson, best ever
This lesson has really fired my enthusiasm for the bass to new heights. Thank you. Only played a bass for the first time this week loved it so much I bought one the same day. It’s going to be a great journey!
Great stuff! I can’t stop watching your lessons, Mark. You have an uncanny ability to get at exactly those sweet spots that make things go “click” inside my head.
Fantastic. Glad you’re enjoying them.
I have been playing the bass for 25 years, mostly simple rock and some country. I have always struggled with walking bass lines, and this lesson has finally made it click. I love the “lick” approach, even if its just in panic mode while you struggle to find a better line on the fly. You are brilliant!
great lesson teaching me a lot .thanks you
Mark, your bass lessons helped me alot
Mark I learn more in 5 minutes listening to you than all others I have been listening to. You do a great job and are very generous with your knowledge of the Bass and music.
Great lesson! Thanks!
Is this Andy that went to North Texas State.
thanks mate, more good stuff
Excellent lesson. It has given me valuable insights into construction walking bass lines. I think I have found my teacher. As the old zen saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Thanks for the lesson. That was awesome, so easy to understand and to the point. Thank you so much.
Great lessons mate, even for someone like who’s been playing 35 years! Always something new to learn..
Thanks Mark this really help me with walking up and down the scales.
In the PDF; Is one walking line an arpeggio line, and the other a scale line? I didn’t get a good understanding of the difference between arpeggio lines, and scale lines.
You have a great way of teaching. you make things easy to understand and I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere. Thanks so much
All your lessons are awesome Mark, thank you!!!!
Exaltant I could almost become a bass player,
Struggling around the C-scales and minor/major pentatonic for the moment. This is probably far far away. But could it be possible for a 36 year’s old guy how just bought a bassguitar….
PS: I bought the monthly subscription after sneakpeaked on all the free videos for a month or so. GREAT COURSES!
Thank You! Great teaching!
After watching this lesson I finally know what I want in myself as a player and the reason for me to be a bass player.So much more interesting and fun to play walking bass lines instead of the same lick over and over.Thank you.
thanks great lesson and materials
As ever clear concise and helpful lesson, thanks
Great lesson. Why am I not seeing the links at below as stated. Not just this but others
For me to : Great lesson. Why am I not seeing the links at below as stated. Just this ?
whoa… how to learn strumming on bass… that’s so cool and soothing…
Thanks for the guidance Mark, amazing help
Fabulous. Clear. And free?!
Practice track for walking basslines, how do I get?
I’m a guitarist not a bass player but was interested in how walking bass works in connecting the chords in progressions. What a great explanation! Fantastic stuff!