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.
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Good luck and get stuck in!