The Three Reasons That Bass Players Should Learn Walking Bass
I can actually think of about 10...but let's stick with these three reasons to learn walking bass:
1. It's A Great Way To Start Learning How To Create Basslines. By their very nature walking basslines are improvisatory - learning how to create and play these lines is a great way to get started working on creating your own basslines.
2. Fretboard Facility Walking Bass Lines tend to go all over the neck - so by playing them you'll develop facility all over the neck. Additionally because the kind of jazz songs that you'll play have many more chord changes than typical rock and pop type tunes you'll develop a much wider knowledge of how harmony lays out on the fingerboard.
A side benefit of this is that because walking bass lines are much more fluid - both in terms of position that you're playing in AND also in terms of notes that aren't root notes being played on the downbeat - than traditional bass lines then this really helps get bass players who started by learning lots of scales (most bass players) out of the 'thinking' of playing in scale positions.
3. Understanding The Language Of Electric Bass
This might be counter intuitive. But let me add two words:
James is often cited as the guy who did the most to develop a language for the electric bass - so what's the connection?
Having studied both Jamerson's bass lines in detail AND walking bass lines in detail, it's clear to see that Jamerson's conception of bass lines was developed playing walking lines. Before he layered on 16th note rhythms and his lines became more complex you can clearly hear this walking bass influence.
Indeed there are three examples I can immediately think of where it's not even disguised: Heatwave by Martha And The Vandellas; Pride and Joy by Marvin Gaye, My Guy by Mary Wells. There are others for sure...but cue those three up on YouTube and give them a listen.
How Can You Learn To Play Walking Bass?
Back in the day I had to answer this question for real - and in a hurry as my then business partner and piano player had secured residencies playing background music (mostly jazz) at a number of restaurants in London...and the first was just 10 days from when he told me about it.
Having told me when the first of these gigs was, he then wrote out a set list of the kind of tunes he wanted to play. And left me with the job of learning how to play walking bass lines on those tunes.
Now I managed to pull this feat off because without knowing anything about deliberate practice I managed to create a learning system that took me from knowing virtually zero about walking bass to being able to get through 30 or 40 songs on a gig just a few days later.
Oh and there was an important ingredient I needed to add to that system:
...90 Hours Of Practice
Which broke down at around 8 to 10 hours of practice for nine days.
Now these walking bass/background music duo gigs were great - they paid my rent for a year whilst my business partner and I were getting our band off the ground. But there was a side benefit I never anticipated:
I made more progress on the bass guitar in those 9 days than I had in the 4 or 5 years beforehand.
...and that 4 or 5 years included 1000s of hours of practice and 18 months of taking lessons from a guy who was (wrongly) considered the best private teacher in the UK at the time.
At the time I never understood why I made so much progress studying walking bass.
And I didn't until I started learning about deliberate practice in 2008 - and then I made some notes about the learning process I'd undertaken back in '94 to learn walking bass (plus I interviewed my old business partner for his recollections) and I reviewed what I'd done through the lens of what I now knew about deliberate practice.
And I quickly realized something...
...about 40 to 45 % of what I was doing could be omitted from the practice system I'd stumbled upon by hacking different things together (books/primitive software/primitive recording/Atari ST computer).
And I'm 100% confident if I had to do it all again I could make the learning system much more streamlined and efficient - especially given that: (i) the technology I used back in '94 is still around...only its better by an exponential amount; (ii) I've been using deliberate practice in my own life - and with students - since 2009; and (iii) in 2013 I discovered a process that's like adding rocketfuel to the process, this process I call deliberate composition.
Now I Created An Extensive (And Extended) Version Of My Practice System 3 Years Ago...
Here's what one of my students - a Professor at Hofstra University, Long Island, New York - said about that program:
"In my opinion. after reviewing over 20 Walking Bass courses, books, and videos, your WB 101 is by far the most complete, comprehensive, and workable course. It has everything you need in just the right sequence, with just the right steps, with great graphics (especially the red arrows showing the walking on the notation).
All other courses go too fast too soon, or don't focus on the small beginning steps long enough, or just barrage too much material with no definite plan of action. Your course solves all these issues."
And just to give your eyes a break from all this text, here's a video of me playing a bass line to the chord changes of Fly Me To The Moon. Kicker 1 is that the bass line was written by one of my students using the deliberate composition process I mentioned above and Kicker 2 is that before he started my program he had less idean that YOU probably do on how to go about creating walking bass lines. Hit PLAY for Fly Me To The Moon:
There's One Issue With That Self Study Program Though...
The "Issue" that has concerned me for at least 2 years now is this: in the information age of 'get everything now' asking students to study a new lesson every week for 30 weeks doesn't work for students willing to put work in NOW and get quicker results.
The Walking Bass 101 30 Day Challenge - Self Study
Learn the foundations of walking bass - and beyond - with 30-50 hours of practice in a 30 Day Challenge!
First up, 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.
Recently I've been learning about 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 30 days organized into six practice weeks of 5 days
- commit to practicing that skill each day for achievable practice sessions of 30 to 60 minutes for each of the 30 days of the challenge
I've had nearly a thousand students take the various different 30 Day Challenges I've run in the last 18 months and the results (from those students who actually DO THE WORK) is extremely good.
The Specific Bass Skill I Chose To Work On For This Challenge
What I chose to work on for this challenge was teaching a foundational approach to walking bass playing and seeing how far we can go in 30 days with an hour of practice for each of those days!
How Does The 30 Day Challenge Work?
The Walking Bass 101 30 Day Challenge starts...
...as soon as you're ready to commit to 30 Days of accelerated learning. (Paul's Note that being said the first lesson goes live on Monday 19th October at 5pm GMT)
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 you'll have 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.
(NOTE: the 30 Days of the Challenge are divided into six 'weeks' of 5 days of study plus one rest day/catch up day.)
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 an Action Plan that you can use to guide you into practically transferring the teaching in each lesson to your bass. (The practice tracks for suggested exercises are at different tempos so you can pick a tempo that's suitable to your ability level.). I RECOMEND AT LEAST ONE HOUR OF PRACTICE FOR EACH LESSON!
I posted in the private facebook group for the first challenge a couple of questions: #1 How are you finding the Challenge Format?#2 Would you recomend this (or other) 30 Day Challenge to other bass players? I screenshotted some answers for you to check out:
And this was posted in the Accountability Group for the second Challenge - and was completely unprompted:
So How Much Is The Investment In This 30 Day Challenge?
I wanted to make this challenge totally affordable but also be enough money so that those students who take the Challenge value what they've invested in and it gives them a kick to do the actual work. (If they don't do the work...it's just information that's going unused and collecting virtual dust on the Interwebz).
For the 30 Day Challenge itself (plus the bonuses) I decided to make the investment required...
To put that in the context of learning bass...if you could book a private Skype lesson with one of the good bass teachers out there (e.g. Ed Friedland, John Goldsby, Janek Gwizdala - most of whom no longer give one on one lessons) you'll be paying anywhere from $70 and up.
Each lesson in the Challenge - and there are 30 of them remember - covers at least as much ground as you would cover in 45 minutes of one on one tuition. Plus you can go over a lesson as many times as you need to in order to make sure you've got it. (And if you're still struggling you can drop me an email with questions...).
Now On It's Own That Represents A Great Investment...
But If You Enroll Today...Here's What You're Going To Get
Need More Information Before You Make Your Decision?
Below are details of the bonuses:
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 - 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 3 - Song Expansion Library Vol 1 (value $30)
As detailed above there are 10 chord progressions based on popular jazz standards built into the framework of the Challenge. When you get to the end of the Challenge one thing you can immediately do to practice your newly built walking bassline chops is to learn 10 more chord progressions based on jazz standards. That's what this Library is for! (And it's available at the end of the Challenge)
Bonus 4 - Transcription And Analysis - Song #1 (value $20)
Song#1 is one of the mainstays of the course - there's so much that you can take from Song #1 that you can transfer to other jazz standards. One way of building what you know is to transcribe and analyze a performance by a jazz master - if you're not sure how to do it, this bonus PDF (available at the end of the Challenge) will show you how to do it and give you plenty of vocabulary and ideas that you can take forward on your walking bass journey!
Bonus 6 - Ron Carter 2-5-1 Lines (value $27)
One of the really cool things about Band In A Box is their "real tracks." These are real parts played by real musicians. In 2016 they recorded Ron Carter for some styles....if you know how to reverse engineer some of this you can extract some cool information. This short PDF features 20 different 2-5-1 lines derived from Ron Carter's work for PG Music. THIS BONUS LIVE AT THE END OF THE CHALLENGE!
Here's how each lesson is presented:
Day 10 100% Money Back Guarantee: I know that you'll find the unique tutorial combination of video, notation/tab and backing tracks in the Walking Bass 101 30 Day Challenge will help you ramp up your walking bass playing, understanding of walking bass line creation AND putting your own walking bass lines together.
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 Day 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.
To enroll, simply hit the bit yellow JOIN NOW button below. That will take you to the offical enrollment page on my 80-20 Site. If you've never accessed anything there before then set up an account using your best email address and a password and then proceed and do your Paypal Thang. (You can also enroll using credit card).
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 Walking Bass 101 30 Day Challenge (for just $100) you're going to get access to a unique 30 Day Challenge that will kick start your understanding of how to put great walking bass lines together AND get you actually playing them! Plus there's several hundred dollars of bonuses....so you've got full 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 retain unlimited access to the Lessons.
Q.What Level Of Theory Do I Need To Have?
A.Required theory level is relatively straightforward – 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. Some simple chord theory. And that’s it.