Guide to Constructing a Walking Bass Line

writing fills and phrases for your musicIf you want to groove and jive, a walking bass line just might be the perfect tool for you. Not only are they fun, but they are simply, and they can make your blues or jazz piece really flow.

So how do you construct a walking bass line?

Well, first you might need to understand just what a walking bass line truly is.

A walking bass line is a steady quarter note movement of a bass line. Unlike many other patterns, a walking bass line does not have to be linear, but it should follow a melody.

Now that you know what it is, you might be curious as how to build one.

Getting Your Sense of Rhythm Right

Before you worry with this, there is something you should consider; rhythm. A walking bass line is all about rhythm. This means that if you struggle with keeping time within the context of a basic song pattern, you may find yourself having trouble building a walking bass line.

The best thing to do before tackling a walking bass line is to sit along with a metronome and work on your rhythm. Basic quarter notes would be, when using a metronome, holding a not from click to click.

For example, if you were to play a chromatic pattern starting on the third fret of your low E (G), the G would be played on the first click, held until the second. Then on the second click you would play fret four (G#) and hold it until the third click. Once the third click comes, you will lay your fifth fret (A) on it, hold it until the fourth click, and finally on the fourth click you would play the sixth fret (A#).

Then you would start all over.

Even using chromatic scale, this same practice pattern could be used as a walking bass line.

Walking Basslines Aren’t Difficult Nor As Mysterious As They Sound

contructing a bass line

In the end, walking bass lines are the most simple of concepts. Quarter notes are the foundation of all music, and are the most basic note values used in modern music. When constructing a walking bass line, you need only to keep in mind that, when finished, you bass line should hold a melodic property.

This means stay in a set key, or if using chromatics, don’t make extreme jumps.

A lot of time, when the bass is using a walking bass line, it is in place of the guitar rhythm. This means that you are the time keeper and all other instrumentation will be following you. This is why it is dire that you practice until you can keep a steady rhythm. If you can’t keep a steady rhythm using a walking bass line, the rest of the band will be thrown into chaos.

In the end, practice is key, and as with any technique, constructing a walking bass line takes practice. Try using different keys to find which sound best. Try outlining the tonic triad, or maybe even using a bass arpeggio. The possibilities are endless as to what your walking bass line consists of. Just remember, keep an open mind and practice, practice, practice!


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