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Blues Bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by str8_bourbon, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. I want to learn to play the blues. Where should I start? What should I be practicing - rythm(shuffle?), scales(blue note pentatonic?), or any specific songs? Who should I be listening to(bassits)? Any suggestions would be apperciated!
  2. Just like any othr style of music, before you begin to learn you need to listen. ;)

    Start with some of the icons of the style:
    B.B. King
    T-Bone Walker
    Buddy Guy
    Robert Johnson
    Howlin' Wolf
    Robert Cray
    Albert Collins

    For a more modern take on the blues, Eric Clapton and SRV are the icons.

    Learn the I, IV, V, 12 bar song form, practice your shuffle rhythm. One of the best blues lines ever, IMO, is R,3,5,6,b7,6,5,3. From the major scale, play it either over two measures as all 1/4 notes or over one measure as 1/8 notes or mix it up, it will serve you well especially if you make it shuflle like crazy. :cool:

  3. tocoadog


    Apr 10, 2005
    I'm still learning, so if I say something incorrect, someone with more knowledge correct me please.

    But, the more reading I do, the more people I talk to, the more questions I ask, it seems that the 12-bar blues I-IV-V7 progression is pretty common.

    Mel Bay's Complete Blues Bass Book illustrates the 12 bar blues. It teaches you scales, major, minor, and both pentatonics and blues scales.

    It also has notes as well as tab (although I recommend staying away from the tab). It has a lot of shuffle examples and a cd to play with.

    I took lessons for about 2 months (all I could afford), but my teacher encouraged me to learn blues before I moved onto anything else.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Thanks for the advice. Speaking of 12 bar blues, you mentioned the I-IV-V progression, does this progression only work(sound right) within a major scale? or can this progression apply to other scales as well?
  5. A chord progression is not "in a scale" it works within the context of a key signature.

    For instance, in the key of C major, the I chord is C, the IV chord is F, anf the V chord is G. So, to play a basic blues you would play 4 bars of C, then 2 bars of F, then 2 bars of C again, then 1 bar of G, 1 bar of F and then 2 bars of C. For a total of twelve bars (measures). Hence the term 12 bar blues. :cool:

    In a traditional blues, you would usually use the dominant 7th chord forms i.e. C7, F7, and G7, to give the tune a more "bluesy" sound. As for scales, the major works fine as does minor pentatonic, or its variation, the "blues" scale. However the definative scale is usually Mixolydian. Don't panic :eek: Mixolydian is merely the major scale with a flatted 7th :) The fingering is the same as the major scale, except the second to last note is lowered 1 fret (half step). This is the scale that the line I mentioned in my first post is derived from.

    Above all though "blues" is just a song form cosisting of 12 bar repeating choruses, there are many, many variations and progressions that will fit into a 12 bar format :cool:

  6. I'm a little quack on theory, but I think I know what you mean. In the key of C Maj., the chords would be C-F-G; and in the key of G Maj., the chords would be G-C-D(right?). My question is, would the I-IV-V formatt work within key signatures other than the major keys? For example C min.? Or am I just confusing myself? You mentioned that dominant 7th chords are used. A dominant 7th chord, is essentially a major chord(root+major 3rd+fifth)with a minor 7th, right? Lets say I'm jamming with a guitar playing, using the 12 bar blues progession, and he's playing C-F-G, can I play a bassline line applying the dominant 7th to go with his progression? Or would I be out of key? Since the minor 7th isn't present in the Key of C Major.
  7. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    Listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Tommy Shannon is a master of the walking blues bass and you can hear him well in most if not all the songs with SRV. Pride and Joy is a great shuffle to get you started.
  8. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    In a Blues, we are talking Blues Harmony which is a little bit different then the diatonic harmony.
    In a Major Blues you can play all the chords like dominant (x7) chords.
    And NO, you do not modulate every time you hit a dominant chord in a Blues like some people say here on TB.

    So you can play the progression like this:
    C7 |C7 |C7 |C7 |F7 |F7 |C7 |C7 |G7 |F7 |C7 |G7 ||

    A minor blues is a little more complex because there are a lot of variations and more scales are involved.

  9. Yes

    Sometimes, but as a rule it doesn't work all that well in a minor key. The 12 bar format still can apply but there is usually much mor variety in the chord progressions


    No it wouldn't be out of key, it would contribute "blues flavor". Wademeister63 mentions Tommy Shannon, who is one of the best blues bassists around. In "Pride and Joy" he uses the major scale in a couple of spots against an A7 chord, giving the passage a distinctly 'happy' feeling. So what we are disscussing at this point is more of an artistic issue than anything else. You can always break the rules, if it doesn't sound right then don't do it again. :smug:

    And if the guitarist gives you an attitude about it, tell him "It's a bass thing, but if it's over your head I'll lay back and keep it simple for you" :D

  10. Just play what you feel, baby. THIS IS BLUES!
  11. Vysous


    Mar 29, 2005
    It's about GROOVE man! Good Blues can be played only with one finger playing one note again and again, Its about rythm!
    Just close your eyes and use your heart! Switch off your brain, it's useful... :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
  12. Thanks for the help guys, i think i got it!
  13. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    I absolutely agree with this. I have it and I go to blues jams. Get all the blues u can. You are on the right road. Play with others.
  14. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
    Any book by Mike Hiland is a good value. He used to write for Bass Player magazine a long time ago. His writing style is easy to understand.
  15. I had a look at some basic basslines(box patterns) for 12 bar blues, and I've come across some interesting things. For example, under an A7 chord, the basslines would be "A A C C# E E F# E", If I'm not mistaken, that would be "R R b3 3 5 5 6 5", how does that work harmonically? I've found out that, b3 and 6 are quite common under dominant 7 chords, contrary to what I would've imagined, since a dominant 7 chord is made up of "R 3 5 b7", how come b3 and 6 works with the chord? All in all, how does Blues Harmony work?
  16. Well in most harmonies, the 6 is fairly neutral. Meaning that it does not express tonality as strongly as, say the 3, 5, or 7. So it is a good choice for a "filler note" i.e. something to fill sonic space without drawing to much attention to itself, or changing the "mood" of the line.

    In your example, the b3 is being used chromatically, as a passing tone. In other words it is leading your ear into the 3 and that's the note that is expressing harmony.

    However, the b7 is something that you find in both the Mixolydian (dominant) mode (scale) and the Natural Minor scale, so as the b3 is also in the Natural Minor, there is a certain amount of sonic compatibility between the two scales. After all the Blues scale is R,b3,4,b5,5,b7,8 and it works great against a dominant 7 chord. :cool:


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