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The Learning Holes In Building Walking Bass Lines

I talk a lot about deliberate practice. I've even written two books on it (and am writing a third!).

You can apply it to anything - for example walking bass. I've told my 'how I learned walking bass in 10 days and paid the rent' story plenty of times. Basically I learned to walk confidently in around 90 hours of practice.

At the time - back in the early 90s - when I did this, I didn't know about Deliberate Practice. In 2011 one of my students asked me about walking bass, and I shared the '90 Hour' story above for the first time.


A few weeks later I got an email that said something like this:"

Hey Paul, I've got the book that you talked about in your story, because I've always wanted to learn how to play walking bass even though I'm mostly a blues player, and I've been working through it. But I'm not making much progress!  What am I doing wrong?"

We emailed back and forwards a few times as I tried to establish how he was practicing....and it became clear that Building Walking Basslines had some learning 'holes' that inhibit progress depending on what kind of bass player you are. Applying the principles of deliberate practice allowed me to identify those 'learning holes.'

These learning holes are:

1. The real world chord progressions used come with practice tracks. Those practice tracks are at real world tempos. 120 BPM. 140 BPM. 160 BPM. And faster. For most students to implement a new concept at these tempos is next to impossible.

2. The real world chord progressions themselves are another issue. Most 'standards' are 32 bars long. Combine trying to implement new playing concepts with tempos above 100 BPM and 32 bar long chord progressions that are constantly shifting makes the complexity of the learning task exponentially more difficult.

3. The final learning hole is that in order to play a new walking bass concept at any tempo in an improvisatory manner requires thorough understanding and assimilation BEFORE you get to that point.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not knocking Ed's book. I think Ed is one of a very small number of great teachers in bass that publisheducational material. His breaking down of foundational concepts of walking bass, teaching them one by one, and stripping rhythm out of the equation and just using a quarter note pulse is utterly brilliant. Without those elements, I would have been totally and utterly screwed back in the day.

For me, and as it turns out, for hundreds of students like me...those holes need to be addressed to get full benefit from Ed's book and make giant strides (so tempted to say giant steps) in your walking.

Back in 2011 I recreated my 'practice system' to help fill these holes for students. But it was only ever text based. It was called THE BUILDING WALKING BASSLINES WORKBOOK.

For 2022 the virtual dust has been blown off the workbook, and I'm adding videos and downloadable practice tracks to help students just like you who want to start walking.

If you're interested in the details, click the blue CONTINUE button below:

Paul Wolfe/www.how-to-play-bass.com




Previous Articles In The Series

1. Why I Had To Learn To "Walk" On The Bass - https://how-to-play-bass.com/bwblw-had-to-learn

2.  How I Got Through My First "Walking" Gig With 10 Days Practice - https://how-to-play-bass.com/bwblw-first-walking-gig

3.  What Ed Friedland's "Building Walking Basslines" Book Has Got: https://how-to-play-bass.com/bwblw-what-bwb-has-got

4. The 3 Reasons Every Bass Player Should Learn To "Walk" - https://how-to-play-bass.com/bwbwl-3-reasons-walk