walk help

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by avondawg, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    My advice is try not to always think of literal notes and instead think of numbers. Walking patterns can be thought of like this: 1-3-5-3 , 1-3-5-6, 1-3-5-6-b7-6-5-3 ,
    1-2-b3-3-4-6-b7-7, .....etc.

    You take any note as a root, and then build the lines using the same intervals.

    So, 1-3-5-6 in F is: F-A-C-D; in Bb: Bb-D-F-G...etc.

    If you learn to think of lines and chord progressions in this way, changing keys becomes much easier.
  2. bluegrasscat


    Aug 9, 2006
    yes i would fully agree with (Bobby King). learning the numbering system is the way to go! it is alot easier, especially when someone asks for a change of key, like during a fiddle break or e.c.t. the numbers are the same no matter the key.. i wish some of the people i jam with would learn it! ( the nashville numbering system)! especially some of the guitarist and banjer guys!! lol.. there i go again drifting off the subject (of walkn bass lines)..
  3. I think the principle is the same. It is all a way of transitioning from chord to chord using a note or series of notes that "gently" leads to the tune's next chord.
  4. avondawg


    Mar 17, 2007
    Well, I think I might be seeing a light at the end of this long tunnel - bass playing by numbers ! Somebody needs a pat on the back.

    bluegrasscat, whenever we were playing and something went crooked, it was always the banjer players fault . Is it the smae way there?

    Yeah, I know, I'm off-topic.
  5. Howdy Mr. Dawg,

    I'm a beginner (8 months) to bluegrass bass playing so I know what you asking about ;) . I had similar questions and went on a quest to find some answers. Here's some links I found and some advice for what it's worth. Definitely listen to Bobby King is my first advice :D ! The "Nashville" number system is the ticket to learning not only walking and runs but also transposing songs and tunes into different keys.

    Learn the "shape" or pattern for the scales on the bass neck in terms of the numbers. As you do this, notice that there are several "shapes" that can get you the particular scale you working with. OK, now one of the "shapes" that really helped me is the "Nashville H-Pattern" for the most basic major chord walk:
    1-3-5-6-1(next octave root)-6-5-3-1 (back where you started).
    See here:
    http://www.bluegrassbassplace.com/instructional/single_sheet_handout.pdf (graphic takes a bit to load)

    If you look at the PDF, you'll see the same "H" pattern for many keys. Bb ain't there but it's just F moved over one string toward the treble G-string side. You can use this pattern a few places up and down the neck. Of course this is for a major key but you could come up with similar patterns for minor keys if you apply the same principles (i.e. learn the shape of the minor key scale and apply the walk pattern).

    Here are a few more links referring to walking in bluegrass:



    If you are willing to wade through the discussion archives of the Bluegrass Bass Google Group (bgBass-L) at:
    you can find some decent discussions about walking, runs, etc. Search the discussion for "walking" and "runs".

    Here are a couple I remember:





    Bluegrass walking and runs are used with discretion for sure. Not that I really know anything about jazz bass playing but I'm sure the jazzers live for and live by tasteful, soulful, creative walking within fairly complex chord structures in songs and tunes. I ain't there yet :p !

    I don't know for sure but I think the term "run" is kind of a bluegrass thang based on the famous guitar "G-Run" used by Lester Flatt and about every other flat-picker in bluegrass:
    I'm not sure that jazzers use the term "run" at all. I guess the "run" qualifies to be a "walk" .... it's just a way to get from here (the chord you're in) to there (the chord you're headed toward) in a (usually) scale-related sequence. But what the heck do I know ...... :rolleyes:

    I have a book called "Bluegrass Bass" from 1977 by Alterman and Mintz that talks about walking and runs. They have gotten permission from the original publishers to revise and reprint the book. I think it will be great for us "grassers" when it's done ..... it's in printing now I think:


    P.S. Active Bass website also has a "lessons" section, there are some walking lessons / tabs there for practice. Mostly for electric players but you can adapt the lessons for upright: http://activebass.com/

    Also, one of the best lessons on scales for upright bass on the internet that I found was from Rockabillybass.com : http://www.rockabillybass.com/lessons/SCALESnCHORDS.htm

    Have Fun !!!
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Sorry, I was out squeezing in some last minute skiing over the weekend.

    I don't know what you mean by runs, maybe you're talking about chromatic runs? It's basically what STEVEKILLERBIRDS said, it's a lead to the next chord. To elaborate, it's the note using to approach the next chord.

    So if I have changes going from C7 to Gmaj, i might walking something like...

    One approach note (one note/beat):
    C-C-E-F-G (F is the approach note to G along Cmaj scale)
    C-C-E-F#-G (F# is approach note, this time chromatic)
    C-E-F-F#-G (2 approach notes? F, F#. chromatic)
    C-E-G-A-G (A)

    Two approach notes:
    C-D-E-F-G (D approaches E, F approaches G. Scale run)

    Just examples. You could play around with the order depending on where you're coming from on the previous chord, but as a "rule of thumb" you should always include the root note in there somewhere. Keeps the piano players happy. :)

    G-E-C-A-G (A approach while walking C chord down)
    G-E-C-B-G (B just happens to also be the 3rd of a G7 chord)
    etc. etc.
  7. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If anyone isn't familiar with Nashville Numbers, when you use numbers to make a chord chart in the Nashville Number system, the number represents a chord built on a degree of the scale. In the key of C: C=1 D=2 E=3 etc. All chords are major unless otherwise indicated, Minor usually has a "minus" or "m" after it: 1-, 4m, etc. Each number represents a whole bar unless it's 2 or more numbers that are underlined or in brackets.

    So here's a simple song in Nashville Numbers -- "Your Cheatin' Heart":

    (Verse )
    1 1 4 4
    5 5 1 1
    1 1 4 4
    5 5 1 1

    4 4 1 1
    2 2 5 5

    More complicated -- "Crazy" by Patsy Cline

    (Verse )
    . . . .
    1 1 b7 6 2- 2-

    5 5 1 #1dim 2- 5

    The great thing about this system is that you can use the same chart for any key, and if guitarists are using capos and playing in different positions, they can also use the same chart.
  8. bluegrasscat


    Aug 9, 2006

    AVONDAWG. i always get off subject but it is a forum so anything goes i think! hehe. yes i would have to say the banjo can really mess me up! cause they are playing so fast, so loud and so many notes, so their timing (on chord changes) can be a bit off or they aren't playing the melody, so if that happens i try to sync up with guitarist and mandolin or who ever called the song, and dont listen to banjo so much( i let them be in their own world!! hehe ( but good banjer players are the opposite cause they know how to play the melody of the song and they dont get off track!

    when we play a new song i have never played or heard..
    i notice if i miss or hit a wrong note on the chord change, " I STICK OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB" and with the bass THERE IS NO PLACE TO HIDE! it can cause a trainwreck quick.. thats when i try to recover it up with a walk to next chord change.. sometimes i can save it and sometimes i cant..
  9. avondawg


    Mar 17, 2007
    As Raymond's father ( Everybody Loves Raymond ) would say - Holy Crap ! That's a lot of info guys. Bob's sample songs with the numbers really makes this thing come alive. The list of web sites is gonna keep me busy for awhile too, thanks Bob.

    Bluegrasscat, I tried a cover-up at practise last night and got busted. there's just no way for me to hide a foul-up. The guitar man knows music inside out and sideways and can pick out a sour note no matter what I do. You used to teach electric bass so I suppose he has a pretty good handle on the low end too.

    Thanks again for all the help !
  10. Hey Again Dawg :)

    I don't know if you have seen this at Bluegrass Bass Place:


    Lots of standard bluegrass stuff converted to the Nashville chord numbers. I'm workin' on converting a bunch of standard fiddle tunes to the numbers and hope to get them posted at Bluegrass Bass Place in the next couple of weeks. I'll let you know when I put them there.
  11. bluegrasscat


    Aug 9, 2006
    Bob!! nice find!! i have a book that has a bunch of songs in it but its all in lettered notes, and i have only converted a quarter of the songs to numbers.. this link was a nice find for sure.. does anyone still use that bluegrass bass place forum? it seemed like no one uses it! but when they do it is a good source of info!!
  12. avondawg


    Mar 17, 2007
    thanks for the link Bob, I'll check those songs out asap. I started visiting their site the other day. Lots of good stuff there, just takes a bit of reading.

    I made it thru a brutal practise sesssion tonight, I've managed to get the flu ! Played every song without screwing up, now I'm going to bed, perchance to puke !
  13. Hello Cat .... man this is scary .... a reply from Cat followed by a reply from Dawg ... what's the world comin' to ? .... cats and dawgs gettin' along with each other :p !

    Yeah the BBP forum site has been somewhat slow lately but that is only our (bluegrass bass players) collective fault. If there weren't so damn many lurkers over there :bag: and more people would jump in with questions, comments, advice, experiences, Nashville chords for favorite tunes, dirty jokes, sermons, fried catfish recipes, or WHATEVER, then it would be more a much more lively place :) .

    I think it is great that TalkBass created a forum for us low-life :D grassers and billy rockers. Hey, we are communicating here, right? But why the heck are we grassers and billys relegated to the same category ?? Must be that we both like Root-5 more than we should ;) ! TalkBass has a lot to offer in terms of amps, strings, luthiers, etc. and I aspire to play some jazz and blues so that's why I'm here. However I try to help out at BBP too. How about you?
  14. avondawg


    Mar 17, 2007
    hey Bob I think it's great that cats and dawgs can finally get along! We must have somethin in common. I agree that BBP is a very good site and I've been getting good info from them. I don't think I have the experience to offer anybody advise so I don't try - I'm still learning this thing myself !

    I also think it's good that we grassers and hillbilly rockers have our own forum. Hey we're not different, we're just special !!! I often feel a bit intimidated by the jazzers and classical players, even tho I'd love to play that style. Oh well maybe someday. For now I'll content myself with the best music, found right here in our own little forum. Oh, yeah, before the jazzers and other pros jump all over me, the intimidation is a direct result of lack of knowledge and experience, which I'm trying to correct. So there!
  15. bluegrasscat


    Aug 9, 2006
    it must be the COUNTRY CONNECTION! and i dont mind that we are with the BILLY'S!!! as i hope they dont mind they are with the GRASSERS! i have been going to alot of rockaBILLY shows lately, trying to pick up some of that sweet billy slap attack..plus i like the music..i am just glad they didnt put us in with the HIPHOP!!!!!!! HEHE

  16. Right On Cat :D ! I sure like the "COUNTRY CONNECTION." About a month ago I got to play a little gig at a local tavern with just one other guy (guitar player / singer) and we did a lot of Hank Williams III, Wayne Hancock, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Old Crow M Show, etc. It was a hoot and I screwed up a fair amount but not bad considering I had about a week to learn over 20 new songs (that weren't bluegrass and had more than 1-4-5 chords :p ). I slapped a little with the Wayne Hancock songs but I'm not even a spit in the ocean compared to the bass player for Wayne :rollno: ! I love to listen to that old country stuff with walking basslines. Maybe someday I will be able to do those lines :) .
  17. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Wayne Hancock -- whatta songwriter, huh? That's where real modern country music is, if you ask me. State of the art.
  18. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005

    And now for the lions, tigers, and bears!
  19. Keep plugging away and one day it will come. For a while you will work to get lines to work but it gets easier. Pretty soon you will just be playing along and something cool and unexpected will come out. The main thing is just don't try to force stuff into the music. There are few things worse in bluegrass than a bass player trying to be flashy.
  20. I sure agree with you Damon. I have pretty much given up on "modern" Nashville country music. Too much like Cheez Whiz in a can :p ! After I heard "Wayne The Train" live and got into Hank III and his crew and extended "family" of hell-billies, I have new hopes for country music. A lot of my favorite country music comes from the Great State of Texas. It's a treat to watch those upright players flog the stuffin' outta their basses. Kinda like watching a train wreck :). Seems strange ... I haven't seen a single one of them playin' a Pollmann or a Prescott yet. Saw a good country / billy rocker band last week ..... bass player whipped his ride so hard on one song that he knocked over his bridge over ..... ooops :bawl: ! It was like a NASCAR pit crew ..... 3 guys putting the bass back together as the band played on. Pretty amazing.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 13, 2021

Share This Page