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Tutorials for Blues Bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pablomago, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. It looks like I may have a gig with a blues band. I like blues and have listened to it for years, but I've never really played it. I'm binge listening to CD's (Everything from B.B. & Albert, Paul Butterfield, Elvin Bishop and Michael Bloomfield's solo stuff, to early Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Jeff Beck) just to get the sound in to my head and hopefully get my fingers to follow. I don't need to be great to start, but I want to be good.

    Besides listening to and memorizing lines I'm brushing up on some basics like knowing where every note is on the bass rather then just playing familiar patterns.

    What books, CD's or You Tube videos would you recommend to help me conceptualize this style and get the nuances under my fingers?
    Ellery and mr80htz like this.
  2. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Mark's stuff is normally right on target, I'd recommend you spend some time with Mark. Beyond that ask Google for "blues stuff".

    video, beginner blues, mark - Bing video

    The few times I've played with a blues band they told me to grab the 12 barre progression and hang on. It's not rocket science.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    AFRO, matthewbrown and pablomago like this.
  3. Fred Pucci

    Fred Pucci

    May 2, 2019
    You’re on the right track with your thinking. I do think the getting a few basic patterns under your fingers is almost more important than learning the notes all over the fretboard though, when you’re talking about the blues given the similar chord progressions they all share (I-IV-V).
    I’m a big fan of Ariane Cap’s teachings and I’ve provided a link to one of her YouTube sessions about using Pentatonic scales over the blues:
    GrooverMcTube likes this.
  4. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Know you're neck and a 1,4,5 progession.
    AFRO and pablomago like this.
  5. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    You should get a legit book and cram. It's not rocket science, but there's a whole lot more to it than pentatonic licks and 1 4 5. You need to know all the repeating patterns cold, and, you need to know all the turn arounds. You also need to get comfortable walking.

    Finally, your time will make or break you in this world. In blues, there is a fine line between smokin and suckin, and that line is - timing.

    Lots of good books out there. Jump into one.
    AFRO, Mili and pablomago like this.
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Blues Bass by John Liebman

    I don't own it but based on his other work I can only assume it is excellent.

    My only other advice is to learn the difference between various styles of blues
    especially when it comes to what the drummer is doing.
    AMp'D.2play, BigDanT, Ggaa and 2 others like this.
  7. Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'm no stranger to the blues, but playing bass in a blues band will be a new thing and I want to nail it best I can. It's always good to shake yourself up and try new things. I figure I can play simply, locking in with the drummer and go from there. They appear to be a good band. Bass, Drums, Harp, Guitar and female vocalist/front woman.
    JMacBass65 likes this.
  8. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    What you said. If you don't get fish eyes from the guys keep doing what you are doing now. As you play with them you will grow into their style.

    As mentioned the beat is the thing.....

    Go have fun.
    pablomago likes this.
  9. Tad

    Tad Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2007
    Boise, Idaho
    I have the book recommended above. It’s a good one.

    So is this one by Ed Friedland.

  10. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Ditto the above. ^ Anything written by Ed is worth a look see. Both Ed and Mark have the gift of putting words together so we can understand what they are saying.
    interp likes this.
  11. Border


    Dec 31, 2010
    Spokane, Wa.
    Another vote here for Ed Friedland's book. Like all of his materials, it is excellent. I have used it and learned from it.
    Dabndug likes this.
  12. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I've got them both; I found this one to be much more practically useful.
  13. pbassjbass


    Jun 21, 2013
    Get a good swing, shuffle, and 6/8 (both in 6 and 2) rhythm program / or metronome, and lock with the kick / snare and high hat. The books are good, the recordings are good (play to those). Keep it simple and locked in, you're creating the base for the soloists, make them sound good. Fills are rarely an issue, since you don't want to step on somebody else's line. Make sure you know how to switch the keys. My BL will switch it from Eb to G to Bb (or almost anywhere else) depending on his voice and if we have horns. He'll call Ab, just for the practice.
  14. mntngrown

    mntngrown Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2007
    The lost Sierra
    The book of Kings! BB, Albert, Freddie. Youtube etc is wonderful. Just pull up a song and steal (honor) a bass line. Try to figure out when you are playing in major or minor key. Most songs are 1/4/5 i.e. EAD or GCD but some start on a walk down from 541 like Tore down by Freddie King and covered by Clapton. It's an exploration of all the bass players who have played for the greats and don't forget the masters class when you are ready Tommy Shannon for SRV and Johnny B Gayden for Albert Collins. Many more of course.
    Coolhandjjl and pablomago like this.
  15. jpmcbride


    Aug 31, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'd go back a little further in your listening ...
    Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Slim Harpo, etc...

    Best tutorial ... go to your local blues jam, camp out in the front row, and watch how the blues guys play the standard grooves. That's how I learned.
  16. mntngrown

    mntngrown Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2007
    The lost Sierra
    Books are cool but the pantheon of great blues artists are people IMHO never read a book about how to play the blues. You are blessed with technology now that lets you pull up the greats digitally. Listen to the 3 Kings BB Albert and Freddie.Learn what the bass player is doing. Copy riffs Figure out if the song is major or minor key so you play the right notes. Move to more artists Figure out what a shuffle is. Later a 2/5. Slow blues is great to learn patterns.
  17. mntngrown

    mntngrown Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2007
    The lost Sierra
    THIS^ Sorry Idouble posted
  18. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    USA, Phoenix, AZ
    Swing baby! Learn to play on the beat, in front of the beat, and behind the beat. Learn to walk, set up the changes and endings.

    Are they playing traditional stuff or newer stuff. Bass playing is a bit brighter and busier with modern blues. Be aware that you do not want to get in the way of the lead instrument. All they want is a constant foundation, especially in the trad stuff.
    AFRO and ELG60 like this.
  19. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    It is excellent, especially since it acquaints you with a whole bunch of blues styles, plus you end up playing those in all keys, so it's a great package on more than one level.
  20. Great advices above. If you wanted to know what lies behind the next corner, I can highly reccomend Ray Brown's Bass Method, page 100, blues patterns. This concerns about jazz blues, which is about looking for more harmonic options. Nice simple table of how the changes developed in time can be found here, as well as many more information about harmony, walking etc. on @Chris Fitzgerald 's web.

    Why do I bother with jazz blues? You will learn the basic progressions and licks quickly. Then you'll probably get bored and start to use too many fills. It's good to know there is a whole ocean of other options.

    A good advice I got once concerns rock'n'roll playing, but might come in handy: always play energetically. Start with some energy and add to it all through the song. This is a inner feeling thing, not finger thing. Otherwise you probably will start to drag the band down after Xth chorus of the same pattern.

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