Advanced Bass: The Tritone Substitution Matrix

When learning to play your bass, an overkill of theory can often paralyze your results while performing. Many musicians have learned the theory of Tritone Substitution, but when trying to apply this information, they often end up short-changed.

In this bass lesson, we’ll cover a simple but direct concept for the immediate application for Tritone Substitution based on the presence of both the V7 chord and its Tritone Substitution chord within the melodic minor scale.

Follow along with this exercise (PDF).

Practice along to these clips:

Tritone Substitution – Medium Tempo:

Tritone Substitution – Fast Tempo:

London based bass player Joe Hubbard’s professional background is represented by a collective body of experience that spans over more than three decades as an internationally acclaimed bass guitarist, teacher/clinician and contemporary jazz fusion recording artist. For more, visit

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  1. Bob DeRosa

    Joe needs to drink a lot more decaf. Does he realize how fast he’s presenting this very complex information? Whoa, Joe, we’re not all DMAs! Slow down and breathe so we can assimilate this stuff.

    • Joe Hubbard

      What can I say Bob- I love coffee…real coffee :)

      • Basya

        Me too!:)

        Btw, it’s very rare when people with such a real high level like Joe share really interesting information, and it’s for free! And people are unhappy…It’s strange to me:)))

  2. His grasp of chord structures is unreal…

  3. Tritone subs are an area of theory that I need to revisit every few years (dependent on how many real book gigs I’m playing). This will not be the video I use. I get the gist of what he is saying (and he knows it way better than me), but his explanation is incomprehensible.

    • Joe Hubbard

      Hi Tom- this is not a Tritone Substitution theory lesson. As it states in the description, it is for people who already understand the theory, but do not understand how to apply it in regard to playing over chord changes.

  4. If you’re struggling to decipher this video, look over this article from bassplayer on the melodic minor scale and modes. It will help clarify things. Also, when Joe says “double chromatic” he means he’s moving chromatically toward the root note from two half-steps away.–modes/51796

  5. Basically what he’s saying is this: over a dominant 7 chord, you can play a melodic minor scale starting on the 5 or b2 of the 7 chord to get an altered sound. So over a G7 chord you can play D melodic minor or Ab melodic minor.

    But I agree that this video could be improved with a bit of a pause between every cut. Then again, that’s what the pause and rewind buttons are for. Pretty sweet video. The example lines are great. I enjoyed learning them.

  6. Joe Hubbard

    This video lesson is aimed at the intermediate to advanced bass player, who already has a basic understanding of functional diatonic and non-diatonic harmony. It is also geared towards applying these concepts to a soloing context from an improvisational standpoint. With that said, many students come to me who only have been exposed to this on paper, where there is no instrumental application discussed in how to use the triton substitution theory. The video solves this problem with a simple concept of superimposing chords over chords. This is not PHD material, but 4th semester theory content put into practice. If you are a 3-chord rock or blues guy who is happy with that- then this lesson is not for you.

  7. Joe

    For the serious music student- a suggestion when studying this lesson would be to take notes on the information taught in the same way that you would approach a seminar. Use the pause button regularly, follow along with the PDF and once you have practice and understood the material use the practice tracks provided to put into context and track and measure your progress.

  8. Mark S B.

    Joe this was nice but hard to grasp the verbal exchange, I’m fairly new at bass so I will save this for the future, Thanks’.


    Seriously, great stuff though. I just need to practice.

  10. Great lesson Joe. You are among my top three favorite teachers.

  11. Great lesson. I’ve never thought about using the mel minor in this context.

  12. Dogukan Atmaca

    It is really good lesson but I am not a mother tongue english speaker but the thing I couldn’t get it is why it got E and C#. If someone can tell me I will be really happy.. Thank you so much.

  13. dennis

    Great stuff . I had forgotten a lot of this stuff. Great refresher lesson

  14. Niram Christian

    This is fun :) thank you Joe