In this lesson, you will learn how to combine chords with a walking bass line, a concept that is becoming more and more in demand these days. As club and restaurant owners are cutting budgets, one way to keep our gig as a guitar player is to slim down the ensemble to a duo or solo. A walking bass line walks through the chord progression, one note per beat. Its function is to outline the chords of the progression and provide a smooth transition from one chord to another.
Video – Jazz Blues Walking Bass
Step 1: Playing the Roots
Walking up or down into a chord is a really nice way of making a transition from one chord to another. The technique is also called a walking bass line. It is used in country, bluegrass and jazz very often, but you can use it in other genres as well.
The rules of walking bass lines
There are many things jazz can bring to your acoustic guitar playing, even if you never intend to play the style itself. Although in my experience, most guitar players I have met and played with would love to be able to play some jazz, and many do. Today I want to show you an easy way to create what is one of the most recognisable sounds in Jazz, a walking bass line. While a walking bass line is typically played on the bass, they are also great to play on the guitar too. In fact, I am not only going to show you how to play a walking bass line, but also how to include chords with it, so you can play both the bass and chord progression at the same time on one guitar! However not only is it a great sound, but walking bass lines will also improve your awareness of the notes in a chord, as well as the chords in a progression. This will improve the quality of your soloing, allowing you to make much more melodic choices regarding the notes you choose to play.
When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the things that many players want to explore and get under their fingers is walking basslines. Though learning how to walk a bassline and comp at the same time can take a lot of experience and time in the woodshed, there are a few rules and pointers you can follow in order to get you off on the right foot as you begin to explore the world of basslines for jazz guitar. Check out the notation examples below as a reference, and then view the video for an in-depth look at each of the five steps, including hearing these lines in action. Start off by finding the chord voicings for the ii V I you want to practice with a bassline. Get these chords under your fingers first before moving on to the bassline section of the lesson. Once you have the chords down, you can now start building your bassline by adding in a root note on the first beat of each bar. Once you have the root note on the first beat, you can add a chromatic approach note on beat 4 that leads into the next chord by a half-step above or below that root note. You can now add another chromatic note on beat 3 of the bar. Again, you can use two chromatic notes below the next root, two above the next root, one above and one below, or one below and one above the next root note in the progression.