Walking bassline technique on BG (looking for DB players inputs)

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by callmejs, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. callmejs


    Mar 2, 2009
    As walking in bread&butter in DB jazz, thought I'd get valuable feedback from the knowledgeable crowd on this side of TB.

    I stumbled on this video of Jeff Berlin and I'd like to understand what he means by "walking bass line is a left hand principle" and how he does it, time mark 8:40...starting with short demo of right hand accent and then switching to left hand accent... sounds different...

    Any suggestions? What is he doing here?

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  2. sean_on_bass

    sean_on_bass Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    Try relinking the video, i do not see it in your post.
    callmejs likes this.
  3. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    DB's do a lot of left hand pull off accents you don't do on EB....
    callmejs likes this.
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I think most of us here mostly listen to people like Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, Red Mitchell, Scott LaFaro, Sam Jones, etc. when we're getting our walking concepts together, rather than Jeff Berlin, with all due respect. Listen to those guys, get THAT sound deep in your ears and then try to emulate the sound and feeling in your own playing.

    For me, walking bass is about 3 things:
    1. Defining the harmony
    2. Propelling the harmony forward
    3. Doing the above in a way that can stand alone as a quarter note melody
    Sonny Dallas is great example of how to do all three elegantly.

    You didn't link to the video, so this is all speculation, but it sounds like he is speaking more to emulating the sound of a double bass walking, rather than specific improvisational approach. So it's likely that he's trying to use more legato playing, longer note duration, etc. to overcome the disparity between the immediacy and decay of the note on a bass guitar and the attack and bloom of a note on double bass. All I would say is that you're going to be more "convincing" if the line shows that you're hearing the "arc" of the progression and hearing/playing notes that reflect your own intent/internal conception/hearing of your immediate aural environment than playing a mechanical line and striving for some "left hand principle"...
    robgrow, gerry grable, fdeck and 3 others like this.
  5. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    What I hear in that clip is Jeff's definition of right hand walking is staccato whereas left hand walking is legato.
    Chris Fitzgerald and callmejs like this.
  6. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    +1 on all those bassists. Ray brown could make such an amazing melodic, contoured, interesting bass line it just blows me away. Built up, conceptualized, tension and release like an amazing solo with the fluidity of breathing.
    callmejs likes this.
  7. callmejs


    Mar 2, 2009
    I made a mistake when first linking the video, sorry about that. But your assumption was right, he's talking about the sound and not the improvisational approach.

    I'm new to this and way over my head, for now, with theory, technique, etc. I'll happily listen seriously to the musicians you have mentioned above, will give me inspiration.

    Thank you for writing back such an elaborated and completed response, much appreciated.
  8. gerry grable

    gerry grable

    Nov 9, 2010
    I had never listened to Jeff Berlin, so I searched and found found a clip of him playing Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise... Personally, for a BG walker, I'll prefer Chuck Rainey.
    callmejs likes this.
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Yeah Ed's got it; that it's about a quarter note legato line. All the ornamentation is going to sound like crap if it doesn't swing.

    It's a good video. I've heard that advice before to practice things to expand one's playing, not to regurgitate or perform well on stage.
    callmejs likes this.
  10. lurk


    Dec 2, 2009
    Flat wounds with kinda high action and using more flesh with your right hand and playing closer to the fingerboard than the bridge will help you get a better sound for walking. My 2 cents: the best slab walkers ever are Bob Cranshaw (check out Sonny Rollins recordings), and John Lee (Dizzy).
    longfinger and callmejs like this.
  11. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    (BG-ist) Jeff Andrews always strikes me as an el. bassist who can function in a straight-ahead situation.

    EDIT: My Mistake - (el. bassist) Lincoln Goines co-authored "Funkifying the Clave - Afro-Cuban Grooves for Bass and Drums." (Which is terrific, BTW/IMFO.)
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
    callmejs and Tom Lane like this.
  12. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    By right hand technique, I think he refers to the simple plucking of the notes, without hammer ons or pull offs made by the left hand. With left hand technique, he's talking about the groove -- where you precede a lot of notes with an open string, after which you hammer on the note with your left hand. Also pulling off notes with the left hand to achieve a similar groovy, funky effect. This is what puts feel into the walking bass lines. I learned this when I learned to play "It's a Shame" by the Spinners from the book "STanding in the Shadows of MOtown" book about James Jamerson, the father of the electric bass. Although it's not a walking bass line, if you can learn to play that bass line, you'll take your groove and feel to a whole new level, even with walking bass lines.

    But he left out some walking bass line right hand technique -- like using your right hand technique to rake across the strings that are either muted, or left open with your left hand...
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
    callmejs likes this.
  13. stringtapper


    Jun 24, 2009
    Denton, TX
    Because I've heard him talk about this before, I'm pretty sure he's specifically talking about playing ghosted off-beat eighth note lead-ins to the next beat by pulling off with the left hand rather than plucking it with the right hand.
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