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Walking Bass Archives

Ask Damian Erskine

Walking Bass Line Construction

In this video, I’ll talk you through the basics of developing a walking bass line in addition to demonstrating a few approaches. There’s also a nice exercise at the end that’ll really challenge most of you as you explore new ways to navigate chord changes. Enjoy! Follow along with this chord chart I used in this lesson.

Talking Technique

Talking Technique: Intro To Triplets In Walking Bass Lines

In the last lesson, we covered adding “burps” into walking bass lines and how to practice them systematically. This time we’re spicing up your walking with triplets. We’ll go over several variations to get these triplets under your fingers and ready to go on all beats of the bar. To keep a focused practice session, we’re going to narrow it...

Talking Technique

Talking Technique: “Burps” in Walking

After the Talking Technique Episode on “Killer Dead Notes,” I got a question from Lionel who wanted to know about “the best technique and timing to get those really nice burps in walking bass lines.” I love the way he phrased that question – he asked specifically for not only the technique itself but also the timing. In this episode,...

Ask Damian Erskine

Getting Away from Playing the Root on Beat One

Q: I play mostly jazz and am a pretty facile walker, but I’ve gotten into the habit of playing lines that almost invariably lead to the root being on the 1 (or the 3 if it’s a 2-chord measure in 4/4, etc.). While I am guessing that some of the folks I play with don’t mind the solid anchor, I...

Ask Damian Erskine

Making Walking Bass Lines Come Naturally

Q: I would like to ask you about improvising bass lines. Could it be unconscious? I recognized that when I play walking bass, I’m always think about how to reach the next chord. I sometimes have great ideas that I hear in my mind’s ear, but most of the time it’s a really conscious procedure. It’s really interesting because during...

Ask Damian Erskine

Freeing Up Your Walking Bass Lines

Q: I’ve been getting my walking together and have started to become comfortable and natural sounding playing perfectly functional harmonic lines through changes that highlight the harmony well. It’s all just basically chord tones and scalar patterns with occasional chromatic approaches. In sum, I think I’ve passed walking 101 and am ready to move on. When I listen to and...

Ask Damian Erskine

Connecting Chords: A Guide to Playing Fluid Bass Lines

Q: I would like to ask about voicing/phrases on bass when it comes to chord progressions. How should I step into the next chord when I’m phrasing the actual one? Should I try walking lines? Are there any standard licks that can bring the feel of translating to a next chord? Or they are all built on the same concept...

Bass Lessons

Walking Bass Lesson: 12 Bar Blues

When you’re presented with a 12-bar blues, you have different options for how to create a walking bass line. In this lesson, we’ll cover those options. The song example I’m using is “Gotta Mind to Travel” by Coco Montoya, if you want to check that out.

Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Through Chords – Continued

Q: I’ve spent a lot of time developing exercises for myself to practice connecting chords so that I’m not treating each chord as a separate entity. My goal is to voice-lead my way through the chords as if each is a slight variation on the last. I’ve been trying to solo during chord progressions, but I find myself stuck on...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Dr. D’s Guide to Improving Your Walking Bass Lines

I regularly see students who are unhappy with their walking bass lines. Perhaps they don’t like how their lines lead (or don’t lead) from chord to chord. Perhaps they find themselves falling into predictable patterns over and over again. Perhaps their range is limited. Perhaps they just don’t find their lines satisfying. All of this can occur even when the...

Ask Damian Erskine

Walking Bass (and Getting Away from Tab)

Q: I’d like to learn to create walking bass lines. I don’t read music so tabs would be preferred. A: Learning to walk is immensely helpful in so many ways. It helps you see the inter-connectivity between chords, helps develop a good time-feel and helps you explore how the arc of a line can affect the feel of the music....