Keep It Groovy: Beginner Improvisation For Bass Players – Location Jumping

In today’s “Keep It Groovy” lesson, we focus on an important element of improvisation: location jumping. The goal is to build a bass theme and identify other locations on the fretboard where we can easily play it.

To begin, we take a simple chord progression, I-V in the key of A. We’ll play two bars of A Major (the I chord), followed by two bars of E Major (the V chord). The general groove or vibe will take on a classic soul/R&B feel. With a bit of inspiration from Duck Dunn, the groove features scale degrees 1, 5, and 6 (A, E, and F# over the I chord).

Once we settle into this groove, we can find other locations for these notes and play the theme in similar, yet slightly different ways. By location jumping or adapting the groove to different registers and fingering patterns, we can open up the fretboard and get creative with our approach. This allows us to add plenty of variation to our bass line while keeping with the theme and doing our job as a bass player.

This is a key element to improvising bass lines and feeling more comfortable on the instrument.

Editor’s note: For more info on improvisation, check out Ryan’s Beginner Improvisation Masterclass Series!

Ryan Madora is a professional bass player, author, and educator living in Nashville, TN. In addition to touring and session work, she teaches private lessons and masterclasses to students of all levels. Visit her website to learn more!

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  1. Pete

    Love the lesson. Ryan, you’re my current fave!