can someone tell me a good book or website to learn about walking bass lines and how to apply them. im confused. basicly a walking bass line is keeping the bass line moving and still staying in key, but coming back to the root note when the chord change happens correct? i think i need a bass teacher for a few months or so
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Jazz-Rock-Feel did a technique of the month on walking bass a while ago. Just searchbar it.
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I think you need to stop caring what people think about it. I stayed home all day today and masturbated like 5 times. Fucking blast.

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That last point is very correct. There was a walking bassline lesson that I wrote on the basics of writing still floating around somewhere. There are plenty of books out there, I thinkt here's a Hal Leonard one or Ed Friedland or one of them two, a Mel Bay book, I think Ron Carter or Ray Brown did one too and countless others.

Really the two most important things are:
1) Get a teacher
2) Remember improvising a walking line doesn't happen in a day, week, or month. It takes a long time to get that skill up to passable and probably one of the more difficult things you'll have to do as a bass player.
There is a good set of Youtube videos by a guy called Dave Marks who does about 8 or 9 different videos on this subject
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ive been wondering about this myself. thanks toolfan for asking. this post has given me some places to look into:-)
I'd personally like to say that you should improvise walking basslines whenever possible. I learned jazz bass through sheet music, and now I can't even play a damn walking bassline without having music with me. I'm working on it, but it's better to start off on the right foot.
Quote by ScottB.
Jazz-Rock-Feel did a technique of the month on walking bass a while ago. Just searchbar it.

I can't find it!

any chance of a link?
outline the chord (so minor 3rd, flat 5 if it's there etc) , you don't necessarily have to go back to the root note at each chord change, but if you're inexperienced it's probably recommended. And yes, get a teacher
I cannot find it either it must have dropped into the deep nothing. However! I do still have the original. I knew saving the UG format would come in handy one day.
Now, first thing, a walking bass line is a line in which the bass player lays down a chord progression and a tempo. The ultimate goal of a walking line is to combine Harmony, Rhythm, and to an extent Melody.

For the most part a walking line you will create will be in the standard 4/4 swing style so for a rhythmic line you will more than likely be playing quarter notes or the odd eighth note. Your job is to lay down the time so don’t go playing some syncopated sixteenth rhythms or you might get some looks from the tenor player up in front of you trying to solo or an odd kick from the drummer. A good thing to use on the fourth of the measure to change it up is a swung eighth note rhythm that leads down to the next chord. Another neat rhythm is the drag triplet (or quarter note triplet) to mix it up a lot. The swung eighth note is good for anytime, but try and save anything too rhythmic for later on in the piece, if your soloist doesn’t need you to lay down a straight line.


The harmonic portion of your line is where some more complications come in. Almost always when playing a walking bass line you want to be playing the root note on any chord change. Actually scratch that, ALWAYS when there is a chord change play the root note. Now, you may ask, what if the chord stretches over two or more bars. This is where *some* leniencies can be made. If you find yourself on the second bar of the chord and you don’t want to play the root you at least want to play a chord tone so for example you’re on a C7 chord for two bars on the first bar you first note must be a root but on the second bar it could be maybe an E a G or a Bb, but try and use the fifth (G in this case) because it‘s the strongest. This rule can be overruled which I will talk about later. Now you know what note to start on but what about the other three notes in the bar? Well this is where some creativity can come into play. The second and fourth notes of the bar are known as THE WEAKER HARMONIC BEATS, or THE STRONGER RYTHMIC BEATS.
For the second note you can play virtually any note with a few exceptions. In general, you want to play something scalar or tonic but even so you can play something else. An exception to what you could play would be the minor second of the chord *but* again the same overruling that takes care of the chord tone rule takes care of this (suspense builder ooOOoo). The minor second is just an ugly note and should be avoided like the plague without the ultimate rule. A good thing to try and strive for is a leading tone of some kind to the next beat of your bar like a Upper Chromatic Neighbour Tone or a Lower Chromatic Neighbour Tone or any other kind of Neighbouring Tone.
Now for you third beat you’re going to need a chord tone. This beat and the first beat are known as THE STRONGER HARMONIC BEATS. Few exceptions to this rule. Even the ultimate overruling rule does not usually overrule this… rule… So with this in mind choose your second note carefully you need somehow reach a chord tone on your third beat, always keep this in mind.
For the fourth beat you want to play some kind of leading note into the next chord. This is probably your freest beat to play virtually anything that will get you to the next chord tone. Still preferably tonic but even less so than the second beat. When I say play anything I literally mean play any note you need to lead into the next chord, now obviously this is a slight exaggeration but your ear will more than likely tell you if you’ve made too big of a jump or some other kind of blip in the smoothness of the line.


Now the melody is really the simplest and shortest part of your bass line. If you see in the melody any kind of odd note you should more than likely cater to that note. Another is that if the melody in the piano pedals a note, you should pedal as well. That’s it basically for the melodic portion of your line.

The Ultimate Rule that Overrules Virtually Any Other Rule in Creating Bass Lines in Jazz.

Linear, logical, and chromatic motion of any kind overrules any kind of rule involved in writing a Jazz Bass Line. Seriously, if you’re making a line, chromaticism (a word?) is your best friend in the world. Anything concerning chord tones and harmonic beats and rhythm and anything else can all be substituted for good old’ fashioned step-wise motion. It is the ultimate, ultimate override button in all of Walking Bass Line-dom.

Some Other Rules To Remember.

-The fourth, along with the minor second, of the chord is considered dissonant and should be treated as such. Can anyone tell me why? No? It’s because the fourth is a minor second above a chord tone (the third). However, in a minor chord, the fourth is all gravy.

-A large jump of any kind should usually be followed by some kind of reverse in motion.

-Probably the most important rule in all of making bass lines, jazz or otherwise, let your ear guide you. If you listen to your bass line and something sounds funky, more than likely something in there is wrong so change it.


1) Down the scale
2)Up scale + CPT (Chromatic passing tone)
3)Up scale + UNT (Upper neighbour tone)
4)Ascending arpeggio + CPT
5)Inverted arpeggio + CPT
6)Descending arpeggio + CPT
7)Inverted arpeggio + CPT 2
9)Repeated notes
10)Root & fifth

Here are some other Chord progressions to try walking over.

F blues- F7 Bb7 F7 F7 Bb7 Bb7 F7 D7 gm7 C7 F7-D7 gm7-C7

Autumn Leaves- am7 D7 GM7 CM7 F#m7b5 B7 Em Em am7 D7 GM7 CM7 F#m7b5 B7 Em7 Em7 F#m7b5 B7b9 Em Em Am7 D7 GM7 GM7 F#m7b5 B7b9 Em7-Eb7 Dm7-Db7 CM7 B7b9 Em Em (Yes I realize F#m7b5 is the same as F# half diminished but I don't know how to do the circle with a slash)

Rhythm Changes- BbMA7-Gmi7 cmi7-F7 BbMA7-gmi7 cmi7-F7 BbMA7-Bb7 EbMA7-ebmi7 dmi7-G7 cmi7-F7 BbMA7-gmi7 cmi7-F7 BbMA7-gmi7 cmi7-F7 BbMA7-Bb7 EbMA7-ebmi7 cmi7-F7 BbMA7 D7 D7 G7 G7 gmi7 G7 cmi7 F7

All The Things You Are- fmi7 Bbmi7 Eb7 AbMA7 DbMA7 dmi7-G7 CMA7 CMA7 cmi7 fmi7 Bb7 EbMA7 AbMA7 ami7-D7 GMA7 GMA7 ami7 D7 GMA7 GMA7 F#mi7b5 B7 EMA7 C7(#5) fmi7 Bbmi7 Eb7 AbMA7 DbMA7 Gb13 cmi7 B diminished Bbmi7 Eb7 Ab6 Gmi7(b5)-C7

(- between chords means two beats per bar. A space just means one chord per bar.)

Questions? Fire away.
o man jazz_rock_feel you rock. this needs to be stickyed somewhere. thanks so much!
I drive a big chevy truck

Jackson DKMGT
Epiphone SG
Peavey BXP bass
Yamaha 12 string acoustic
Behringer BX1800 Bass amp
KORG toneworks pandora's box PX4D
BOSS overdrive/distortion
Aside from your assigning a sexual orientation to a bass line there is so much wrong with your statement. People do walking bass lines to lay down harmony and rhythm mostly. You play all the harmonic changes and control virtually all of the rhythm in the band. You have to remember you're playing in a genre where you're not number one priority or even number 2 or 3. You're job is one of the most important, but not in the forefront. That's why people play walking basslines. What you asked is the equivalent of why do people build a foundation for a palace, it's kind of gay, why don't they just build massive flowing pillars and towers?
Perhaps he feels that Walking Bass lines of the same sex enjoy sexual conduct with each other?
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eh, i see what you mean but, i guess its a matter of opinion, they seem gay to me

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This thread has become a stupidfest. I don't know any gay bass players, but the homosexuals I do know like mainstream pop and videogame tunes.

Therefore, if anything is gay, it is the backing track for your favorite videogame. Which means that game is gay, which means you must be gay. Now come up with an insult that doesn't piss me off, or classify a group of people as a bad thing. it isn't hard, dumbass.
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I mean, I don't agree with a lot of opinions on this board, but this is so far beyond anything. I doubt anything has ever defined a genre more than walking bass lines define jazz other than the spang-a-lang. That's like saying... industrialization is gay. I cannot compute.