The Duck Dunn Challenge

Learn Duck Dunn's Vocabulary of Devices To Create Your Own R&B and Blues StyleBass Lines

So What Is A 30 Day Challenge?

Whether you've been following me for a few days or a few years one thing you may not know is that I'm a total geek about topics like deliberate practice and the neuroscience of learning and how to be a better teacher.

Last year I dug into the psychology behind "challenges" and how they can help to promote learning.

Here's how they work:

  • focus on a specific piece of skill in the discipline that you are learning
  • challenge yourself to practicing that skill for a relatively short period of time (days and weeks rather than months or years) - in this case the Challenge will last for the 30 days of April
  • commit to practicing that skill each day for achievable practice sessions of up to 60 minutes every day in April (if possible)

There is plenty of neuroscience to back up that this approach works...but I took it for a test drive myself to see if it did - and that was with a bass related skill and a non-bass related skill.

And I was so impressed with the results that I've combined the "30 Day Challenge" approach  with my 80-20 Bass Library for teaching bass players ever since!


The Specific Bass Skill I Chose To Work On For This Challenge

One of the things I discovered in my research into deliberate practice is that acquiring skill at anything (and the bass is no different) is like creating a self building staircase.  In order to successfully get to an advanced level you first have to progress through the foundational levels.

And in working with some beta students I discovered that there were big holes in their basic understanding of the devices that can be considered foundational in bass playing.

So this 30 Challenge will look at the foundational devices and rhythms from the playing of the late, great Duck Dunn.


Here's The "Plan" for The Duck Dunn Challenge

Here's how the Duck Challenge will unfold:

  • There will be a lesson every week day in April - with rest and catch up breaks on the weekend
  • There will be a bonus Summary day on the 1st May (in total that makes 23 days of training)
  • There are seven pre-training days that will set up the Challenge (these have already started - and that makes 30 days!)


And Some Of The Things You'll Learn in The Duck Dunn Challenge:

  • common devices found in Duck Dunn's playing
  • common rhythms that Duck used
  • how Duck connected basic devices together to make lines
  • the deliberate composition process so that you can create lines at will (see Leela's Composition at the end of this page)
  • the concept of modifying devices - apply this and you can create more sophisticated lines built off more basic lines
  • how to take a device and practice it in all 12 keys for technical mastery and fluency
  • how to use deliberate composition to create lines that are beyond your current playing level
  • and more..


How Will The Duck Dunn Challenge Work?

The Duck Dunn Challenge starts... 

...on Wednesday April 1st.  There will be 7 days of "pre training" that have already started going live in the Members area -  as long as you've read all this material before the Challenge starts on Wednesday we'll be good to go!

Every day a new lesson will go live in The Challenge...

As a 'learning principle' for the Challenge I'm guided by a concept called "One New Thing." So every day we'll be guided by this principle and seek to learn only one new thing - though please note that there could be sub-divisions of that 'one new thing.' You'll get an email when the new lesson goes live and I post about it in the private accountability group as well.

Each daily lesson...

...will take less than 30 minutes to read, watch the musical examples (every musical example is filmed) and absorb.

Putting The Daily Lessons Into Practice...

As well as downloadable backing tracks in MP3 format that you can use to practice with, each lesson also includes a one page Action Plan that you can use to guide you into practically transferring the teaching in each lesson to your bass.  (The backing tracks are at different tempos so you can pick a tempo that's suitable to your ability level.)

Adding Some Secret Sauce...An Accountability Group

A Weird Pyschological 'Hack'

Focusing on something for 30 days is a proven way to acquire new skills, take existing skills to a new level...basically to get shit done.

But there's a simple thing that you can do on top of this that massively increases the chance that once you've started a challenge like this that you'll go onto complete it.

This simple thing is this: be an active part of an accountability group. (Sidebar: you may be thinking: this adds a heap more time to my daily allocation to the challenge.  You'd be wrong though...this can be done in a handful of minutes per day.)



Private Facebook Group

For the 30 Day Challenge this accountability group will be a private Facebook group.

As I said above you can do this really simply.  At the very basic level it's a question of simply going to the group and under each post where I confirm that the latest day's training is live you simple type something like: Have seen the training and done my day's assignment.

If you commit to just doing that simple thing (as well as reading the training and doing the practice) then you just multiplied the chances of completing the 30 Day Challenge exponentially.

There's more you can do...but at the basic level that's it.

(Paul's Note: some of you really hate Facebook and are put off by the mention of it. There are two things you can do: you can do the Challenge as a self study; I have a way that you can use Facebook and then leave after the Challenge and they'll have no data on you that can be used for anything! The accountability group REALLY is worth the small hassle this takes to set up.)



Other Uses Of The Accountability Group

You can also use the group to ask questions about the course material, or post observations.

If you have a question, there's a good chance that other folks in the group will have a similar question.  By posting your question in the group you're not only helping youself by getting an answer to something that you're not sure of (which is my failing...not yours!) but you're also helping your fellow students as they all get the chance to see the answer I post.



Sidebar 2: Weird Fact

I've done other trainings where we've used a private facebook group.  And I can usually tell within a few days which students will go on to complete the training (and improve their playing and get massive Return On Investment) and which students won't.

The metric I use to predict this success: how often they post in the Accountability Group.

That's it.


So How Much Is The Investment In The 30 Day Challenge?

I wanted to make this challenge totally affordable - for the Duck Dunn Challenge itself (plus the accountabilty group) I decided to make the investment required...


To put that in context...it's less than the price of a fancy cup of coffee a day...less than the price of a meal out at a reasonable restaurant for you and your family</>...less than the price I pay for my Internet/TV/Phone package each and every month (and you get unlimited access)...

On It's Own That Represents A Great Investment...

But If You Enroll Today...Here's What You're Going To Get


Paul's Note: if you're in the UK you're probably aware that the pound has tanked recently....if you'd prefer to pay in GBP then hit me up with an email and I can send you a link and we do this manually.  Will save a few pounds for you!

Need More Information Before You Make Your Decision?

Bonus 1 - Deliberate Practice For Bass Version 1.0 (value $47)

In 2010 I wrote a 300 plus page book about applying Deliberate Practice for bass which used to sell for $77.  Now I no longer sell this book because my understanding of deliberate practice has outgrown what I originally wrote about - but the information isn't outdated in any way and is still 100% relevant.  One day I'll write Version 2.0 which will layer in the understandings I've gained in the last 8 or 9 years that go beyond this...but this is still a great place to start learning about what should be a foundational level topic but that: (a) no-one really teaches and (b) no-one who does mention it seems to properly understand

Bonus 2 - Analyzing Bass Lines (value $47)

This is a collection of columns that I wrote several years ago and compiled into a PDF eBook.  Analyzing bass lines will allow you to discover your own patterns and ideas - this eBook will teach you the process of going through this and being able to do it.


Bonus 3 - How To Practice In your Dead Time (value $47)

This is an eBook I wrote in 2011 about how you can use time when you don't have your bass handy to practice your bass. If you productively use 30 minutes of 'dead time' a day you'll get an additional 150 hours of practice in the next 12 months!  (Which is actually priceless!)

Bonus 4 - Duck Dunn Style Grooves (value $30) 

This is a post Challenge bonus....a collection of 20 Duck Dunn style grooves for you to get your fingers around and use as inspiration for creating your own lines and grooves.

Bonus 5 - Technique Builders (value $77) 

There are three areas of technique covered in this bonus: fretting hand, plucking hand (2 finger rest stroke) and finding the notes on the fingerboard.  Each of these areas is covered in detail in a series of sequential lessons that if followed for a few minutes a day will drastically improve your technique in a matter of months.

The Secret Sauce - Deliberate Composition

The secret sauce in the 30 Day Challenge is a process called 'deliberate composition."  To demonstrate I've taken a composition from a fellow student.

Firstly this composition comes from the James Jamerson 30 Day Challenge.

Secondly here’s how the student - a bass player called Leela from the US -  self identifies as a bassist : "I’m a roots and fifths, quarter note, two beat kind of bass player…folk and country styles."

On the next page is the first 16 bars of a composition that she created for Day 21 in the Jamerson Challenge. As you’ll see this is quite an advanced bass line which if memory serves she composed on the piano rather than the bass. But how it was composed is very much a secondary consideration compared to the fact that it WAS composed. Here’s the first 16 bars of that composition:

McCartney Day 7 - Leela's Composition from howtoplaybassdotcom on Vimeo.

Now go back and read again how Leela self identifies as a bass player, then look over the composition again and watch and listen to the video of me playing it.

That should serve as a really powerful illustration of what you can do with deliberate composition - and providing you follow the instructions set out in the Challenge literally ANYONE can create bass lines like this!

Daily Lesson Format

Here's how each lesson is presented:

  • Text + Notation/Tab + Video

    Each of the daily lessons has its own unique web page in the 30 Day Challenge.  Lessons consist of test, musical examples and videos of the musical examples.

  • Downloadable PDF

    Each of the daily lessons is also available in PDF that you can download.  (At the end of the Challenge there will be a Complete PDF of the entire challenge available to download).

  • MP3 Backing Tracks

    Over the course of the 30 Day Challenge there will be a number of practice tracks that you can download, load to your MP3 player of choice and use in your practice space to implement the Action Plan available in each lesson.

  • All Musical Examples Filmed

    All of the musical examples in each of the lessons are filmed (at the ‘boundary’ tempos of 120 BPM and 80 BPM ) and the videos are embedded adjacent to the appropriate notation on the lesson page.

Don't Take My Word For How Well This Works...

I mentioned that I've run 30 Day Challenge before. Here's some screen shot answers after I asked a couple of questions in the accountability grou:

#1 How are you finding the Challenge Format?

#2 Would you recomend this (or other) 30 Day Challenge to other bass players?

Here are some of the answers for you to check out:

April 10  100% Money Back Guarantee:  I know that you'll find the unique tutorial combination of video, notation/tab, deliberate composition and backing tracks in the Duck DunnChallenge will help you with your bass playing.  I want you to be just as confident with your purchase though, so there's a guarantee period.  If for whatever reason you're not satisfied by April 10 of the challenge all you have to do is drop me an email and let me know.  I'll refund your purchase ASAP with no hassles and no hoops to jump through, and we can part as friends. SO ALL THE RISK IS ON MY SHOULDERS - if I don't deliver, YOU don't pay!



When you go to a gig, a jam or a rehearsal  no-one will care whether you can play  diminished scale licks or machine gun triplets or non-muddy chords. Instead they'll ONLY care  about you filling your role as a bass player.  If part of that role requires you to play authentic R&B style bass lines (whether someone else's or your own) OR Duck Style blues lines then taking the Duck Dunn Challenge will take you a long way (if not all the way) down the road of nailing that requirement.


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

P.S. In case you're one of those people like me who likes to skip to the end...here's the deal:

When you join the Duck Dunn Challenge you're going to get access to a unique Challenge during that will enable you to confidently play R&B and Duck Dunn style blues bass lines!  Plus there's several hundred dollars of bonuses....so you've got value for money BEFORE you even go to the first training day!

  • Q.Do I Have Access To The Lessons For Just The 30 Days Of The Challenge?


    The Lessons will appear on a daily basis….once the Challenge is complete you will get  unlimited access to the Lessons.


    The Accountability Group will only remain open for a few days after the 30 Days is over.  Self Study students don’t have any access to the accountability group.

  • Q.What Level Of Theory Do I Need To Have?

    A.Required theory level is pretty basic – you need to know what root notes and thirds and fifths and sixths and so on are.  And how to find them in specific keys or chord centres.