Country Bass Walk

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by frede, May 28, 2008.

  1. frede

    frede Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Fort Washington, MS
    We were working on some new songs last weekend and someone came up with the song "In The Palm Of Your Hand", the Buck Owens version. It was suggested that I do a Country Bass Walk during the break. I tried a Western Swing Bass Walk, to no avail. I searched the web, but found nothing, so I was hoping someone here could an idea of how to play a Country Bass Walk in G.:bassist:
  2. Exactly what is a "country" bass walk? A half-note feel or something else? I've found in bluegrass that, for most tunes, walking in half notes seems to fit the music better than using quarter notes which sounds too busy.

    I would suggest you try to base walking on the music and what the other players are doing rather than trying to fit it into someone's preconceived notion of what a walk should sound like.
  3. wdave


    Apr 7, 2008
  4. Well there you go. When in doubt, always find the original recording. And most of them can be found on the site linked above, or on Amazon. This one sounds like it doesn't walk at all. Just plays in 2, like about 95% of country & bluegrass. I'm no expert but I couldn't tell the difference between a "country walk" and a "western swing walk" if it bit me on the bottom. I have been playing with a group where 2 ladies sing great harmony. They do a lot of Patsy Cline stuff, and that has been almost all 4/4 walking. They usually like to hear your tried and true bass lines: 1-3-5-6-8-6-5-3, etc.
  5. frede

    frede Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Fort Washington, MS
    This is the walk I was talking about:

    G B C C# D B A D
    G B C C# D B A G
  6. Frede-
    If you're into the Bakersfield (or Buckersfield) sound pick up 'Dwight Sings Buck' by Dwight Yokum. A fine and heatfelt tribute to one of the greats.
  7. wallydoesbass

    wallydoesbass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2002
    Menlo Park, CA
  8. frede:

    The only walking I hear on the sample is between chords. The rest is straight 2.
    Pick up a copy of Keith Rosier's "The Lost Art of Country Bass". It has all the country walking you will ever need including samples of Allen Williams and the great Bob Moore. Its in tab form so its easy to read. There's also a CD. You can find it at Elderly and on Amazon. I can't imagine a better book for this kind of music.
    ERock_10 likes this.
  9. jazzercountry

    jazzercountry Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    If someone asks for the "Ray Price" feel on walking bass, that usually is doubled with the piano left hand and it's straight up and down root third fifth third (with the occasional passing tone). It has it's own sort of groove to it when it's locked. That's the only walking besides western swing that's idiosyncratic to country that I can think of. The other patterns usually occur in regular pop/rock tunes from the 50's and 60's, nut just in country. I don't think I've heard 1-3-5-3 on every change anywhere else (at least not on a regular basis) except for maybe a jazz player who's never played changes before.
  10. frede

    frede Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Fort Washington, MS
    Wow, great book! Thanks for the tip. I ended up with:

    G B D E C E G A D F# A B G E D B

    Which would be 1-3-5-6
  11. Frede:

    If it was not for that book when I got it 10 years ago, I probably would not be playing the bass now. I was mired in low level stuff that was getting me nowhere. It opened up a whole world of playing styles for me and the walking lines from Bob Moore (including that wonderful bass intro to "Crazy") and Allen Williams are just so adaptable and musical they will make anyone sound good:hyper:.
    The electric bass examples from Glenn Worf and others are also useful for upright if you change a few of the note positions.
    Keith also has a similar book on Jump and Blues.
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    The brief sample of "Open Up Your Heart" sounds like a 2 feel with quarter note walkups to the chord changes. Or am I crazy?

    I play like that on several tunes but I've never heard it called anything special.
  13. wallydoesbass

    wallydoesbass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2002
    Menlo Park, CA
  14. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
  15. kg4muc


    Dec 7, 2008
    That is some easy listening for sure :)

    Joe Zinkan sort of set the standard for the shuffle walking technique used on a lot of Ray's material..
    I always loved the notes Junior Huskey played too..always low and always on time!

    danthebassman07 likes this.
  16. buffalobillh


    Jul 20, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Samuel Shen Basses, NS Design, D'Addario Strings
    An old thread, but I feel compelled to comment, as country & western/western swing walking bass is my specialty.

    An understanding of the music will help know when to walk and how to walk. If you're talking about Ray Price, Faron Young, Johnny Bush, etc., that style is a shuffle. Shuffle music is a descendant of western swing, which is a descendant of early jazz and swing. In other words, shuffle-style music is DANCE music. Ray Price played DANCES, as is the tradition in Texas.

    SO... if your bassman plays 1-3-5-3-1-3-5-3-1 all night, that doesn't go anywhere musically. It's laborious and heavy, and even more so when the drummer hits the kickdrum 4/4 all night. That's ok for modern Nashville music, I guess, but that is way too heavy for dancing. The bass should, when possible/practical, walk it all the way up, i.e. 1-3-5-6-8(1)-6-5-3-1. That lifted style of line extends the phrase, lets it breathe, and lightens it up, as dance music/jazz/swing should never be heavy-laden and laborious. Also, the kickdrum should be 2/4. Piano left hand should mimic bassman, and right hand should comp on the "&" of every beat (1 & 2 &...). Piano left hand should never compete with the bass, only compliment it. With this light, free style of rhythm, the lead instruments can float on top unencumbered by heavy-laden rhythms. It is very freeing to a lead player or a vocalist. Most of all, it is easy for dancers to dance. They don't come to a dancehall to plod, they come to dance. How you play can directly affect how light on their feet they can be.

    If you want to play a 2/4 walking bass instead of stacked bass (1-5-1-5), that is a great style when appropriately applied. Used in western swing. Still has a light, moving feel.

    Either way, please don't play 1-3-5-3-1 every song all night long. That is bland, boring, uneventful, and doesn't fully allow the music to float or develop. If you're going to listen to Nashville recordings of walking bass/shuffles, they need to pre-date 1975. If you want something current, you might find a rare recording that features proper shuffle playing, but you'll have better luck checking out Jake Hooker or catching us live somewhere. Jake's recordings are great examples. There may be other players out there doing it, but maybe not so prominently. Definitely some guys in Nashville that know and understand, but don't have opportunities like we have here in Texas. Regardless, listening to fine examples is the key.
    Session1969 and danthebassman07 like this.
  17. Keith's book and CD are classic. BuffaloBill's advice is priceless.
    When doing a country walk, I recommend staying away from anything that starts to sound like repeated arpeggios. I actually think of jazz walking and country walking as the same thing, just over different chord progressions. It's the chord progressions - the intervals - that make it country or jazz. The approach is the same. And the result is the same: definite feeling of movement that supports the song.
  18. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Great post, BuffaloBillH!

    If you'd care to recommend some YouTube links that you consider "fine examples" I'd be grateful. :)
  19. just bought "The Outsider".....taking notes:hyper:
  20. JB73


    Oct 19, 2009
    San Antonio, Texas
    +1 on BuffaloBill's post. Here's another good example of a shuffle and what he's talking about:

    danthebassman07 likes this.