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Is it just me or is walking jazz bass hard?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cire113, May 12, 2011.

  1. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    So check this out... for me soloing over jazz standards is 50x easier than playing walking bass..

    For obvious reasons..(when soloing you dont really have to hold the harmony)

    But man walking bass is really kicking my butt right now! But what a great way to practice chord tones and etc!!

    Does it just take alot of time and practice and doing it slowww..

    I know my basic chords, chord tones, root approach, 5th approach, chromatic, diatonic, ..

    I guess it just takes time... :/...

    it is kinda cool though to figure out how many endless ways you can really connect chords especially in the 2-5-1 jazz language like endless possibilities
  2. No it is hard. Players tend to develop a bit of a repertoire of changes from one chord leading in to the next - you've recognised this - sounds like you're on the right track.
    Luigir likes this.
  3. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    I'm the opposite. While I don't find either to be very difficult, I find walking the bass to be easier than soloing. My best advice is to practice. Follow along with recordings and try to play what the bassist is playing. Try to get a feel for how bassists tend to move around the changes. When I was younger, I also found it very helpful to read sheet music with the walking bass line written out. I found that to be a good way to get a feel for patterns and build up a bit of muscle memory for when familiar changes come up.
  4. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    oh man i have about 40 tracks of miles davis quintent records from 65-68... They are money for jazz language!! walking bass and solos...

    seriously a lifetime of study in just 40 tracks... so overwhelming sometimes :)..

    Usually i just transcribe a lick that is really inspirational to me and that i like instead of doing the whole solo on each tune... Usually they stick with me better
  5. paganjack


    Dec 25, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Easy enough to do, extremely difficult to do well.
  6. devine


    Aug 22, 2006
    Owner: Scott's Bass Lessons
    68Goldfish likes this.
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
  8. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    It never hurts to take a tune and write out several choruses of bass lines. Then you can go back and edit and change the lines as needed.
    This is why Lincoln Goines said "in reality, you're always soloing" in an old Guitar Player interview decades back....
    A good way to practice those lines are to play chords in the cycle of 5ths/4ths
    Try a Root-Fifth for starters (for better results connect the 5th by step with the next Root)
    Then add Major or Minor 3rds (R-3-5-3)
    Then finally add a Chromatic Passing Tone (R-3-5-b5)
    Try playing this in 3 areas of your bass:
    The first 5 frets (lots of open strings)
    The area between 5th and 11th position (a lot of players don't know this area as well as they should)
    The frets above the 12th (a repeat of the first frets 8va)
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This is the correct answer! ;)

    So it is really a lifetime's study and you can hear how the best Jazz pros are constantly inventive, yet supportive - playing melodies in quarter notes and driving the band.

    That's without even mentioning how much they swing and groove without failing to outline the chords and resolve the harmony!
    Bondobass and Groove Master like this.
  10. The more I learn the more I see there is more to learn. As I started late I've got enough to keep me busy way into my 80's.

  11. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    Good for you Malcolm !! I agree 100 %. Though not as late a starter as yourself, I too, am enjoying every minute of making up for lost time, with no small thanks to the folks on T.B. for all the help and information.

    Keep on rockin' !!! :bassist:
  12. +1
  13. RhinoBass


    Oct 21, 2009
    Ed Friedland's 2 books on the subject are excellent, IMHO.
  14. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Try doing less soloing and more walking. :D
  15. robwren


    Sep 22, 2006
    Anthem AZ
    Check out TBs own Todd Johnson. You can ask him questions in his "Ask a Pro" forum here. His walking bass method videos are awesome, and are available for download on his site. Here's a demo:

    YouTube - toddjohnsonmusic's Channel

    Also, he's got a new series of "Playin' Through the Real Book" downloadable video lessons that include the video, a transcription and a play-along .mp3 all for $1.99. Great stuff! Check it all out here...

    Todd Johnson Music
    Luigir likes this.
  16. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    Thanks for the great advice here guys...

    Also on electric bass it seems alot easier to walk just playing with 1 finger for consistency? ive seen jeff berlin do this alot...

    Any thoughts on 1 finger vs 2 finger when walking?
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've seen some guys do it like Jazz guitar with their thumb!

    I must say that I struggled for about ten years to play Jazz walking bass on BG and was never satisfied - within a few months of buying a Double Bass I was playing walking bass much more like I always heard it in my head and on records! :)
  18. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    It's crazy hard. The biggest hole in my repertoire right now.

    Note choice and duration are everything. If you don't know chord theory you're pretty much screwed for everything except the most rudimentary patterns.
  19. Bredian


    Apr 22, 2011
    Think the early basses had a finger holder below the strings for the thumb pluckers.

    Regarding the double bass, I swear I hear more than 12 steps between the octives!
  20. Yes, it's hard. That's why it's so satisfying when done well.

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