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Freddie King - Key to the Highway

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pohare, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. pohare


    Mar 31, 2014
    Hey I am trying to learn Bass and was wondering if anyone could provide the bass line to Freddie King - Key to the Highway.

    It seems really easy but I am just learning and can't figure it out.

    You can hear the song here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCnKPh_jxjg

  2. As you say, it seems really easy... and it is... but the chord progression isn't what you might expect as it's not the usual I-IV-V changes, it's more of a I-V-IV. The Freddie King version you posted is great - I've not heard that before, so thanks for the heads up - but I can see how it'd cause you grief if you're new to the game.

    I'd suggest starting with the 'standard' version as perpetrated by Eric Clapton here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwNO0BaT8hM

    Just follow the changes sticking to the root notes - A (x4), E (x4), D (x8), A (x4), E (x4), A-G-F#-F-E, F-E. Rinse 'n' repeat until you know it inside out.

    If you end up going to blues jams, or join a blues band, chances are that it'll be the Clapton version that gets called.

    Freddie's take on it has a slightly different arrangement, and it's in a different key. It's in D but everything is tuned down half a step, so it'll come out as C# in standard tuning. The main riff is R-3-5-b7 over the changes & it keeps the walk down to the turnaround.

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  4. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    This (Big Bill Broonzy) progression shows up in Ed Friedlands Blues Bass book as well in A.
    References the tunes Stack-O-Lee and Trouble in Mind as similar.
    8 bars = A7, E7, D7, D7, A7, E7, A7-D7, E7
  5. plainman


    Apr 18, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    I love the Freddie King version, and that's Duck Dunn on the bass. This is how I play it:

    The bass line is basically this pattern of notes (not chords):
    1 3 5 b7 b7 6 5

    The recording is in the key of Db, so when you are on the 1 chord, those notes would be:

    1    3     5    b7     b7     6     5
    Db   F     Ab   B      B      Bb    Ab
    (I wrote B for the flat 7, but I believe technically it is Cb)

    Or, on the fretboard, it is this pattern:

    |   6    |   b7    |        |      |
    |   3    |         |        |   5  |
    |        |   1     |        |      |
    So you use that pattern in this chord progression:
    1 5 4 4
    1 5
    Then back to the 1 and play these notes
    1 b7 walk down to 5 (i.e. b7 6 b6 5) 3 4 5

    The 1 chord is Db, 5 is Ab, 4 is Gb. It goes down from 1 to 5, so when I play the 1 of the pattern and I'm on the Db, I play it on the 4th fret on the A string, then for the 5, I start on the 4th fret of the E string, and for the 4, on the 2nd fret of the E string.

    The bridge is basically the same pattern, it just moves up a fourth. I just shift so I start the pattern on the 9th fret of the A string and play the same way, except that the turnaround is different. Because you have shifted up a fourth, the chord progression you are playing now is:
    4 1 b7 b7
    4 1
    The only reason I am pointing this out is because I thought it would make my explanation of the last two measures clearer.
    Instead of that 1 7b walkdown for the last two measures, you play 8th notes on the root of the 4 for one measure, and 8th notes on the root of the 5, or in simpler terms, play 8 8th notes on the 9th fret of the A string, then 8 8th notes on the 11th fret.

    Then it goes back to the original pattern 1 5 4 4 1 5 + walkdown pattern.

    I hope that wasn't too confusing. I tend to use numbers to describe both fingering patterns and chord progressions, and maybe it is difficult understanding when I am going from one to the other.
  6. leftiebass


    Oct 17, 2009
  7. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I hear a key change at 1:40 from Db to Gb. It goes back to Db at around 2:28. It is the same progression in each key, but that may be what is throwing you off.

    BTW, that walkdown is very common, a good one to know.