im planning on actually learning to make walking basslines, e.g. in a traditional jazz scenario. im aware of the notes/intervals involved in most chords, but the whole process of walking in a live environment really intimidates me! the necessity to think on your feet like that. i was wondering if anyone could give any hints on how a bass player can begin to learn how to produce walking basslines, e.g. exercises, things to incorporate into a practise session. i play electric (fretted and fretless) bass.

many thanks.
i need to get a better signature.
i'm no expert on jazz playing, but what helped me was just jumping in at the deep end. Get some chord sheets and start by just hitting the root of each chord, then while you're doing that think about what note you are going to use to "walk" to that root note. it's quite a basic technique really but it takes a lot of practice to get it down where you feel confident to get any chord sheet. you will need to know your fretboard inside out before taking on jazz stuff in my opinion..

there is a good "getting into jazz" thread with lots of helpful info..
If you know your modes and how to construct chords, its half the battle. They way I learned (or was taught) was to take a basic piece of music (a jazz standard does nicely) with the melody and the chord chart. Start off playing the melody to get the "feel" of how it progresses and then play it through using root notes. Look at the intervals and how the chords pass from one to the other. Sometimes I might play the arpeggio or a broken arpeggio for the chord from one chord to the next. Then, jump off into the deep end and just start honking out a walking bassline based on the time signature.

Start off with easier songs, with just a few chord progressions. Killer Joe and Watermelon man are the one's I started out with, both fairly easily to improvise a good walking bassline.

Don't be hesitant to make mistakes. It's going to sound bad and feel awkward as you start working through the process, but it gets easier with time and practice. Good luck!

EDIT: Ok, I gotta learn to type faster than Applehead! I think its pretty funny we used the same analogy of "jumping off the deep end". I just had this vision of a bass player, bass guitar in hand, flying off the edge of a pool into the deep waters.

Seriously, there is no easy way to learn this other than working through the process and it takes time and practice.

http://www.malletjazz.com/lessons/bassline.html is written for a vibraphone player, but has some great variations to work through that would be applicable to upright and electric bass walking bassline constructions.
Last edited by anarkee at Feb 21, 2007,
know how chords are formed and the chord tones to play with each chord. know where each chord is going. say u have Amin7 going into D7 you're probably gonna wanna play something like (very basic but good introductory stuff)

Amin7 ----- D7 ----- Gmaj7

that kinda stuff is good to start off with. knowing the chords. passing notes
Fender '51 Precision Bass
Hofner Verythin LTD Edition Guitar in Walnut w/ Bigsby
Engelhardt ES9 Upright Bass
1968 Trayner YBA 1A MK II Amp
w/ 6x10 cabinet

Last edited by epy at Feb 21, 2007,