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Walking Bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by God_of_bass, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. Hey guys,
    I was curious to know as to how you practice your walking bass lines. I'm aware of the theory, in terms of chord/scale relationships, chromatics, rhythmic embellishments etc. I went over the principles with my teacher.
    However, how do you guys put these into practice? Do you sit down with the chart, and just walk, or do you work with a drum machine? Perhaps even a pre-recorded piano, with the walking underneath?
    I want to know the most efficient, and useful way, to improve my walking. I cuurently just walk over the chart, unaccompanied, though I don't feel that I get the full opportunity to explore the sounds within that chord, as I have no context.
    I have the excellent John Goldsby book, but he doesn't really give you information on how to practice? Any suggestions? I hope I made myself clear, I've been revising economics all day, and my brain is melted!
  2. Try getting a program called band in a box. Its a program where you type in the chords, and then it generates a band to play the chords you put in. Its a really good program for getting comfortable to the changes of a song for soloing, and also you can walk bass lines with it too. Its not too expensive, i think you can find it for around 70 dollars. Its a good thing when you want to play a standard but you dont have a band to play with.
  3. i just set the metronome to click on 2 and 4 and walk with the chart in front of me.
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Band in a box is a good program, and Thebassmuchacho knows what he's talking about(he walks a mean bassline)

    Additionally, if you want a little more...portability, there are drum/rhythm machines that essentially do the same thing BiaB does, only you can take it anywhere, they are generally more expensive though, and they interface is trickier, but they are a little more flexible, and are still very useful.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Transcribe, transcribe, transcribe.
  6. Transcribing is one of the best things you can do if you have the time. If you have to get things together on short notice definately get band in a box. You can get "fakebooks" for band in a box to save you the trouble of writing out the melody and changes. Just make sure that the changes are the same as what is on your music. I think it helps to practice with the drum track both off and on. You never know when the drummer you get stuck with hasn't looked over his/her music. :)
  7. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    All of the above .....


    Download a bunch of aebersold tunes, pan the bass out, and play along .....I find this to be the best method. Each to their own though
  8. Ace123


    Sep 25, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    Hey i just started using Band in a box too and if you're lucky you can download it off of someone from kazaa and you won't have to pay the $70 for it. That's how i got it! And its the EXACT thing i use to practice my walking, i highly suggest it.
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This disgusts me. $70 is a pittance to pay to become a better bass player, and you stole it from someone else. You're a thief, and below my contempt.
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    If you can't find real people to play with, try walking over a tune that you have the changes for. You'll hear what your line sounds like against the harmony and you'll know whether or not you've captured the feel, which is the most important thing in this style.
  11. As 1 year beginner, I practice reading partitions from my teacher Bruno Chaza.( Nice to know on http://brunochaza.free.fr/homepage.htm )
    He's written original wonderful harmonic lines for 350 standards!, he can send them if you ask! [mailto:brunochaza@hotmail.com]
    To improve speed I put gradually a metronome. When speed is OK, I play with either Band in a box, original CDs recorded, Aebersold's or Leonard's play alongs,
    Play along's are the best to improve grooving!

    Best regards
  12. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    I've had a lot of fun with Hal Leonards Building Walking Bass Lines and plan to get the next step Expanding Walking Bass Lines. Even if you don't use them for the instructional value, the CD has track after track of sample songs with various change styles to play along with as well as the chord charts. Once you get past the first few begginner ones, they can be quite challenging.
  13. Feda

    Feda Screwed up pitch

    Jan 12, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    I might come out as an idiot, but what do you mean by transcribe PacMan? Create basslines and write them down, or figure out other bass lines and write them down?
  14. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I think both situations would apply in this case, no?
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Mainly I mean write down basslines that you hear on records that you like. Then analyze them, find out why they sound good to you. That will help to integrate them into your playing.
  16. Thanks guys, I have a few ideas to think about now. Pacman, I'm one step ahead of you, I've transcribing a lot recently, especially parts of walking basslines that jump out at me.
    Dave Holland has really been a favourite of mine, I have a video where he's playiny with Herbie Hancook, his playing is amazing. Some day....
  17. What video is that? I would like to check that out. If your transcribing Holland bass lines, i dont think you would need too much help with walking bass lines, that guy is a monster ;)
  18. Feda

    Feda Screwed up pitch

    Jan 12, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    What I find hard is figuring out what chords the bass walks over..There are so many wierd cords, and many of them sound similiar..
  19. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    you're on to something there, 'so many sound similar' That's important to take into account, a large majority of jazz music(and classical music) is written in such a way that the chords lead into each other nicely.

    that's known as voice leading, in classical theory, there are a couple rules to keep in mind, most notably is to keep common tones when possible.

    In terms of walking a coherent bassline, it helps if you can recognize where the chords overlap, what notes are shared by many chords and other common trends you may see. The reason that we voice lead is to make the music sound smoother and more easy on the ears.

    And one of the main purposes of a walking bassline, is to outline the chords and back the melody, in a smooth manner.
  20. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Use a metronome. For starters , you should have it placed on the 2 and the 4 in the bar. Practice playing exactly on the beat , for starters. The most important aspect with walking lines is hands down the time.

    Pre-bebop upright bassists could swing like crazy even though their note choices and/or intonation was a bit off.

    You should also pay close attention to your phrasing, and the decay of your note. Generally speaking you want a good balance between "bouncy" and "smooth". Acquiring this can probably only be done by transcription of recored bass lines, practicing with a nome (and preferably recording with and without one) as well as playing with a real live group a lot.


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