Tag Archives: walking bass

Walking Bass and Chords on a Bb Blues – Jazz Guitar Lesson

Walking Bass and Chords is one of the greatest ways to comp if you are the only one playing behind a soloist like a horn or a singer. In this lesson I am going to go over a Walking bass comp on a  12 bar Bb Jazz Blues and how you play it on guitar. The video is based on a recording I made and transcribed.
Some of the things I discuss are on making walking bass lines on guitar, how to play them and how to add chords to your bassline. I also discuss shell voicings and drop3 voicings as being very useful for this type of guitar comping

Watch the video here: CLICK

The Blues and the Bassline

The Blues is probably the most important progression in Jazz, as well as in a lot of other genres.

In the example that I play in the video I am using a few more advanced embellishments with adding extra notes in the bass line and harmonizing extra notes. 

Here is the example:

The analysis of the Bass line and chord voicings

The first bar is a prime example of a simple very usable bassline on the Bb7. On the one of the bar the Root is in the bass and a Bb7(13) voicing is added. The bass line melody for the rest of the bar is a Bb triad. On beat 4 I have an E as a leading note for Eb. 

To break up the quarter note bassline I add a D under the Eb that I then use a hammer on to lead into the bar. This adds a bit of variation and makes the line a bit more exciting both melodicaly and rhythmically.

On the Eb7 the chord is on the 1 and. The function of having a short stap on a chord like that is more to add to the groove than to make the harmony clear. You cna hear this if you compare to bar 1. The bass line is again all chord tones with an A leading note on beat 4 to take us back to Bb7.

The A is harmonized with an A7 that acts as a leading chord to the Bb7 on the one of the following bar. The A7 is a shell voicing. 

Reusing the bassline and adding a tritone sub.

On the Bb7 the chord is the same shell-voicing as the A7. The bass line is identical to bar 1 using the triad and the E leading note. Here the E can be used to lead into an Fm7.

The final bar of the first line is an Fm7 E7. Here the bass line is very simple. For both chords it is 1 then 5. The chords are here played as sustained chords. This helps making the sound of the extra chords clear. 

The Eb7, Diminished chord and the minor II V

Bar 5 is the beginning of a new 4 bar period. The chord is placed on the one to make the change to the subdominant clear. The bass line is the same as in bar 2, except on beat 4 where I have an Eb to lead in to the Edim that follows.

On the next bar the Edim is E, Eb Db A. Here E and Db are chord tones. The Eb serves as a diatonic leading note and the A is a chromatic approach note to Bb.

Bb7 and the II V to C minor

Bar 6 takes the progression back to Bb. The bassline is again a Bb major triad and the final leading note Eb is there to take us to the II V to Cm in the next bar.

The Dø G7 have a Drop2 voicing for the Dø and a Drop3 G7(b13) for the G7. The bass line is using the b5 of D to lead down to the root og G. On the G7 there is a Db to lead down to the C in bar 9.

F7 altered and some more leading chords

The II V back to Bb is moving between two positions. The line starts on the low C where the Cm9 voicing is. It then walks up the scale with a leading note to the F7. On the F7 the bass line is 1 b7 5 b5. I add a chord on the 1 and. It is an F7(#9). The b5(B) is harmonized with a B7 shell voicing to resolve back to Bb7.

The final turnaround is Bb7 G7alt Cm7 F7 alt. The Bb7 is harmonized with a Bb7 shell voicing and the bass line continues up to an F to lead up to G. The G7 has aG7(#9) voicing and the next bass note is a Db to lead down to C in Cm7.

Ont eh Cm7 the same idea is used. Bassline is 1 b5 and there is a chord on the 1 and. On the F7 the bass line is 1 then 5. The chord that is added is an F7(#9).

Practice the chord voicings

To practice the voicings you can use this exercise shown in example 2. As you can see most of the chords are really quite common drop3 and shell or shell based voicing that we play all the time.

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Walking Bass and Chords – Bb Blues

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Walking Bass and Chords – Solar

One of the nicest ways to comp in a duo setting is to play walking bass and chords at the same time. In this lesson I am going to go over a 2 chorus example on the song solar and demonstrate how you can construct bass lines, make some rhythmical variations and use passing chords and leading notes.

Walking bass line melodies

Walking bass line melodies are a bit different from the normal melodies we use when we play a solo. You need to be able to technically play the bass a nd the chords at the same time.

In this lesson I will go through the example and use that to demonstrate how I make bass lines and how I use devices like passing chords and chromatic leading notes.

Playing bass lines

The best way to play this type of accompaniment is best played by playing the bass with your thumb and the remaining fingers can then add chords on top once in a while.

The important part of the groove is the bass so you should probably strive to keep that going and then add chords once in a while as it is possible without disrupting the flow of the music. Think of the chords as being a spice or embellishment and the bass as the meat of what is happening. 

Writing bass lines

Walking bass lines are based on the harmony that they are played under. I am assuming that you know what the chord tones are for the different chords since this is something you have to be familiar with if you want to be able to make your own lines.

In the first 4 bars we have 2 bars of tonic C minor. In the first bar we have a C on the one, and use a diatonic passing note(D) to get to the Eb. I then skip down to a B because I want to go back to C in the next C minor bar. The 2nd bar has the same bass line but now we end on an A to go down to G on Gm7. The Gm7 line is identical to the one on Cm, just transposed to G. On the 4 in that bar we have a chromatic leading note(B) to C. 

Open strings and arpeggios

On the C7 I am using an open string. This is something that double bass players do very often and we might as well take over that concept when ever possible. In this case it allows me to go from C down to a low E where I can then continue up to the 5th(G) and go chromatically down towards F.


Chromatic passing chords

On the two bars of F major I am first using a scale movement to get from the low F in the first bar to a high F in the 2nd bar. The 2nd bar is using a bass line that I use on several chords: 1 7 5 leading note. In this case the next chord is an Fm7 so we can reuse the 7 as a leading note. The same bass line is used on the Fm7, but now of course with a b7 and a B leading note down to Bb. In this bar I have also chosen to harmonize the B as a B7 that then moves down and resolves to a Bb7 on the 1 of the next bar.

Sliding rhythms

The bass line on the Bb7 is just the triad followed by a leading note, but I am adding an extra leading note below the target(Eb) on the 4 and. I then slide up to Eb, this breaks up the rhythm nicely and is a good way to add some variation.


On the Ebmaj7 I am using the same idea as on the first Fmaj7, so here I start on the Eb and then skip down to the 5th to move up the scale stepwise. In this way I am landing on the Eb on the one of the next bar for the Ebm7.

Fast II V progressions

The Ebm7 Ab7 is a very typical bass line where the 3rd and the 5th of the chords become leading notes for the next chord. On the Dbmaj7 the bass line is just the triad and then repeating the root on 4 because it also works as a leading note to Dm7b5. The bassline on that is Dm7(b5): 1 b5 G7: 1 5 where the 5(D) is leading down to C in the next chorus.


The 2nd chorus

The firs 2 bars of the 2nd chorus are almost identical to the 1st chorus. The only difference is that now I want to go to a higher G so I have an F as a leading note to G on the 4 of the 2nd bar.

The Gm7 bass line is consisiten of a descending Gm7 arpeggio which nicely encircles the root of C7. The C7 is using the same sliding trick as I used on Eb in the first chorus so that we can slide an “extra” E up to the F on Fmaj7.


The Fmaj7 bass line is only consisting of arpeggio notes. First leading back to F and then pointing towards the low F so that we now have a low Fm7. On the Fm7 we have a scale wise ascending bass line that adds a chromatic leading note(A) to go to Bb. The A is here harmonized with an A7 that resolves up to Bb7. The Bb7 bar is identical to the first chorus.


The final 4 bars are again using mostly basslines that I have already talked about. The Ebmaj7 is using the 1 7 5 7 bassline. The II V to Db are using a similar idea as in the first chorus, but it is turned around so that we have Ebm7 1 5 Ab7 1 3 and then continues with a Dbmaj7 bassline that goes by the 6th of the chord.. On the final II V I am playing Dm7(b5): 1 b5 and G: 1 b5 to resolve to Cm6/9


Practising and playing bass lines

When you are working on basslines then the name of the game is to think ahead. It is probably best to be aware of where you want to be on the next bar and then choose a bass line that takes you there in one chúnk.

All the chords I use are thought of as voicings with the root in the bass. That means that the chord is place around the one of the bar where I play the root of the chord.

If you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:


If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Jazz Guitar Q&A #8 – Right hand technique, Walking Bass, What note to start on

I filmed this Q&A before I left for the tour so I could have it up in time when I came back.

In this Q&A I wanted to also ask you guys some questions, so check out the video and leave a comment to let me know what you think….

Remember that if you have any questions on guitars, effects, improvisation, technique or improvisation then leave a comment on my video or send me a message on Facebook or Instagram.

In this weeks Q&A I am covering quesions on:

  • Basic Right hand tecnique
  • Walking bass concepts
  • From Blues to Jazz?
  • What note to start on

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Chords and Walking Bass – part 2

In my previous lesson on playing this sort of accompaniment: Chords and Walking Bass – part 1 I mostly talked about how to combine the two and how to practice getting both layers to work together. In this lesson I am more focusing on how to write the basslines for faster moving chord progressions like a rhythm change A part.

The main part of this lesson is based on the two examples that I play in the video which should demonstrate a simple and a more advanced approach to creating a strong bass line.

The Examples

In the first example I am mainly using a 1 – 5 movement to construct a logical sounding bass line on the Rhythm changes. Just to clarify what I mean: 1 – 5 on the Bb would be Bb(1) and the next note would be F(5).

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 2 - ex 1

In the first two bars the bassline is only constructed of a 1 – 5 movement on all chords. On all of them I can resolve that down wards to the next root except for the Bb (Bb – F) that is resolved up to G. For the next two bars I play a Dm instead of the Bb chord. A very common thing to do, since the two are almost identical. The bass line is again moving 1 – 5 all the time except for on the Dm where it is 1 b5, yielding a chromatic leading note to the G7. This is also a very common way to move from one chord to the next.

On the Fm7 I use the 1 – 5 bass line again to get to Bb. On the Bb I go from the root to the 3rd because it is leading into a chromatic ascending movement (Eb to E resolving to F). The Eb and the E are played with repeating notes because that emphasizes that sort of movement. The resolution to F (on Bb/F) is chromatically moving up to the G, which then via its fifth(D) moves to C. The bassline on C is a b5 leading down to F, and on the F I play the 3rd to go to the Bb on beat one of the next A part.

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 2 - ex 2

The second example employs a few other approaches too. The first turnaround uses a chromatic leading note Ab to lead to G. In a slower tempo you can even harmonize it as an Ab7. Form the G it moves via the 3rd(B) to C minor where the bassline on the Cm7 F7 is purely chord tones. The 2nd Bb Major moves via it’s 3rd(D) to G. This is in a way using that the D is a chord note on the Bb and the fifth of G so it makes sense harmonically and is a nice way to get a bigger interval in the bass line at that point. The Cm7 F 7 is again using thirds and fifths as leading notes. The solution for the Fm7 Bb7 EbMaj7 Edim is identical to example one. Mostly because the chromatic ascending line is so strong at that point. On the last two bars I uses the F and the C under both the Bb/F and the F7. On the Bbmaj7 the bassline is the triad ending on an Eb to lead to the D7 in the bridge.

Putting this to use

I hope you can use these examples as models to make your own bass lines. For me the process with this was always based on finding some solutions for the different progressions in a piece and then practice to play them and hopefully have a few different ones so you can start varying. Over time the ability to get more variation in both chords and bass lines should grow.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Chords and Walking Bass lines – part 2

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.


Chords and Walking Bass – part 1

In this lesson I’ll demonstrate how I approach playing walking bass lines and chords at the same time. This is a a way of playing that I use really a lot in situations where there’s no bass player, so mostly duo settings with a guitar player, singer or horn player.

The chords that I am using in this lesson are the shell voicings that I covered in this lesson:  Jazz Chord Essentials – Shell Voicings


The way I play this type of accompaniment is to use my right hand fingers and use my thumb for the bass line and the rest for the chords. In that way you have a different sound for the two parts and you split the hand naturally in a way that you can play two independent parts.

For me it the important part is the bass line, so I give that priority over the chords probably because I am always using it to accompany others. When I play the bass line I try to give the 2 and the 4  a slight accent and for the rest just have a legato and not too hard attack. I never spend too much energy on sustaining the chords, to me they are added colors but are not necessary to keep the flow of the music going.

The first 3 examples are a very simple II V I in C major.

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 1 - Ex 1

In this example I am just playing the chord on the first beat of each bar, so that the combination of the bass and the chord is as simple as possible. The way I construct the bassline of these examples is very simple: The Root has to be on the one and the other notes are arpeggio notes except on the 4 where it’s a leading note for the new root if you start with this rule set you can make fairly playable and functional walking bass lines.

It is important to remember that bass lines are in fact improvised quarter note lines outlining the harmony.

Examples 2 and 3 are exercises using the same harmony but putting the chord in another place in the bar so that the chord can have more of a function in the groove.


Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 1 - Ex 2

The final example is more of a demonstration of what I might play on a blues in F so for ideas you can analyze it and of course it is also a good etude to get the hang of the sound of this type of playing.

The process for me in learning how to play like this was to sit down and figure out a few songs and then find more solutions for the whole piece so that I could start mixing it up and vary each chorus. This is probably the same way you learned playing chords on a standard too. So the try to analyze the lines that I am playing and try to move to other parts of the neck to play the same thing using the principles I talked about here.

As always you can download the examples as a pdf here:

Chords and Walking Bass lines – part 1

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.