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Bassist Kevin Guin

Bass Edu

Chromatic Walking Bass Lines For Slick Sounds And Skills

Chromatic Walking Bass Lines For Slick Sounds And Skills

Chromatic Walking Bass Lines…

Considering all of the things that you can work on to get an upgrade to your walking bass skills it’s hard to beat the pure power and punch that chromatic lines can bring to your bass playing. 

As more chromatic sounds are worked into your playing you will notice the easy sophistication that even simple instances can give. And the added advantage for any musician is that the use of chromatics will stretch your harmonic skills and your hearing skills alike. 

You might think that simply playing out a half step is an easy route to gold at the end of the chromatic rainbow. Although it’s not quite as easy as that, once you begin to experiment a bit with chromatic sounds you will readily understand what you have to do. 

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce chromatic sounds to developing bassists and to give several effective and easy to understand methods to get them into your walking lines. 

LESSON: Chromatic Walking Bass Lines

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The chord progression of the day is a four-bar chromatic repeating pattern of two chords: G7 to Ab7, two-bars each.

The main methods that we will work to get into these chromatic sounds are the following:

  1. Root-To-Root: Play from the 3rd fret G up and back using a pentatonic blues pattern taking care to dive for the Ab just in time.
  1. Root-To-Chord-Tone: Play upward off the note G in a similar way as before but now plan on going over the octave and grabbing a note relevant to the Ab7, such as a Bb or a C or an Eb. 
  1. Chord-Tone-To-Chord-Tone:  Prominent examples would be walking chromatically from the b7 up to the root, or going chromatically down from the 3rd to knit the next change. Very slick sounds! 
  1. Triad Inversion Fun:  When you use a triad in common time it is very easy to displace the line and it makes for great interest. You will also have to learn how to grab extra notes to slot out these lines. 

Maybe the trickiest part of learning how to gain facility as a walking bass player is not learning chord tones and other harmonic things but keeping your place within the chord progressions. It stretches your concentration and it becomes easier to get lost in the form. 

Remember, when you are learning any bass line to always spend some time saying note names out loud.

Push the envelope to learn how to connect chords. And if you feel that you are way out of your league then start writing out the lines. Start simple and build up. In two weeks you won’t recognize yourself anymore! 

My recommendation is that you take your own sweet time with this chromatic method. If you were to work on one key plus one key-in-review per week you would get through all keys in a few months and get an incredible boost to your skill level as a walking bass player. 

Another pointer I would like to give is to use these walking lines to warm up when you are beginning your practice for the day.

When you get going for the day it’s easier on your hands to simply “go for a walk”. I find it very uplifting to drill down on these lines before more technically demanding work comes into the picture. 

I hope that you can block out all of the crazy, noisy things in the world so that you can concentrate on your music and pull yourself forward into truly artistic territory.

Best of luck to all of you and thanks for stopping in.

Kevin 

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