Hey bass players. I thought I’d give you something challenging to start off 2014 with. Once again, it’s not a solo by a bass player but rather another master of strings, guitarist John McLaughlin.
The solo is on a tune of John’s called “Off The One” from his CD entitled “Floating Point”.
The solo begins at 3:30 into the song.
I chose this solo for a couple of reasons. First, the chord progression is very simple and repetitive. It begins with an E13 chord which is just an E7 with the 13th (C#) in it. It’s a basic dominant 7th chord and takes the E Mixolydian mode. That’s followed by an Emi7 to A13 to C/D. C/D can also be thought of or written as D7sus4. Again it’s just a dominant 7th chord except the 3rd (F#) is taken out and replaced by the 4th (G). You can still play a regular D Mixolydian mode over it no problem. Later on in the song you’ll see an F/G which can also be written as G7sus4 and it too takes a G Mixolysian mode. All the minor 7th chords are treated with the Dorian Mode as the default scale. That said, McLaughlin mixes in other stuff like chromatic notes and pentatonic scales but for the most part his choice of notes is very “inside” and that is a good thing.
The second reason I chose this particular solo is because of the way McLaughlin’s solo lines actually lay on the neck. I play a 6 string bass but whether you play 6 or a 5 or a 4 string, you will notice right away when you begin to play through the solo just how “comfortable” and “guitaristic” the notes lay on the fingerboard. That shouldn’t be too surprising considering we share 4 of the same strings with the guitar and McLaughlin’s lines really make you notice that. Don’t worry too much about the “8va” sections. The goal of learning this solo on the bass is not to exactly match the register the guitar is in but rather to give you some new ways of moving your fingers when playing through chords. You can really mine this solo for new ideas that you can add to your regular bag of licks and because the lines lay so nicely on the fingerboard you can work those ideas up in speed as well. So the next time you come across a II-7 V7 or a sus4 chord, try uncorking some of the lines in this solo. I think you’ll like what you hear.