the online magazine for bass players

Search Menu

Bass Transcription: Jimmy Johnson’s Bass Line on Allan Holdsworth’s “Spokes”

Jimmy Johnson
Photo by Michael Lutch /

Today I’ll pay tribute to one of my bass heroes: Jimmy Johnson. His versatility always amazes me. He plays smooth jazz with his band Flim & the BB’s, he holds down the groove with James Taylor, and he always keeps the group together under complex harmonies with Allan Holdsworth.

Johnson has a unique voice on the instrument, with very melodic solos and solid groove. He’s a true innovator on the 5-string bass.

For this month’s transcription, I chose “Spokes,” a track from Allan Holdsworth’s Secrets, because it shows his ability to keep a groove while adding some melodic phrases and fills. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta is on this record and the two musicians interact a lot in this track, making sense of the word “playing”.

I spent some time trying to figure out the articulations on this chart. Pay special attention to the slides, bends, staccatos, appoggiaturas, note muting and fast triplets in higher registers.

Download the transcription and follow along with the video: