5 Legendary Soul Bass Riffs (Played by Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn) – YT136

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In today’s bass lesson we are going to look at how to play 5 legendary soul bass riffs that were originally played by session legend Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn.

This is a follow on lesson from last week where we looked at Duck Dunn’s incredible bass lines from the  Blues Brothers records.

Duck Dunn was a session bass player for Stax Record in the 1960s and played on 100s of hit records for artists such as Otis Redding, Wilson Picket, Eddie Floyd, Jerry Lee Lewis, Albert King & Bill Withers.

In this lesson we’re going to look at 5 riffs he created between 1965 and 1971.

Riff 1 - In The Midnight Hour

This was originally released by Wilson Picket in 1965 and is essentially a beat riff that moves between the chords of E & A.

Riff 2 - Mr. Pitiful

Mr. Pitiful was originally recorded by Otis Redding in 1965 and is a one bar riff in the key of C.

Riff 3 - Ain’t No Sunshine

This legendary song was recorded by Bill Withers in 1971. Think of this as a simple two bar riff (bars 1&2) and then try learning the whole 8 bar chord sequence.

Riff 4 - Knock On Wood

Originally recorded in 1967 by Eddie Floyd this riff is a great exercise in playing accurately in the upper registers of the fretboard. 

Riff 5 - Born Under A Bad Sign

This last riff is where the worlds of Blues & Soul meet and was recorded by Albert King in 1967.

Lesson Wrap Up

The thing I love about Duck Dunn’s Bass lines is they are generally not complicated but they are highly crafted so they work as an integral part of the song.
These are great riffs for bassists who are in the beginner to intermediate phases of learning. Make sure you play the riffs along with the original records too.
If you’d like to learn the most important skills bass players need to play great bass lines like the ones in this lesson make sure you check out the Bass Lab PLUS.

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All Bass Lab PLUS courses are easy to understand and simplify complex ideas so bass players in the early phases of learning can make rapid progress and achieve results that impress their friends and family fast.

Good luck and get stuck in!


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