In this bass lesson I’m going to show you how to play Every Breath You Take by Sting & The Police.
This song is the perfect vehicle to start learning pick bass guitar. I recommend using simple alternate picking just using root notes to develop consistent timing and stamina.
To learn this song I recommend breaking it down into 4 core sections:
Intro / Verse
Make sure you download my personal chord chart so you can see how all of the sections fit together which is part of the PDF workbook.
Before we hit the lesson content it’s worth talking about the key signature.
Over the past 20 years of playing Every Breath You Take I’ve always played it in the key A… and watching the Police live in 2008 - so do they!
However, the original is in the key of Ab, so I feel there is a strong chance the guitars are tuned down a half step for the studio recording from 1983.
If you want to play along with the original recording using the instruction from this lesson either tune your bass guitar down a half step so the open notes are Eb - Ab - Db - Gb or play everything one fret or a half step down.
You can get the backing tracks for Every Breath You Take inside the Backing Track Vault in the Bass Lab PLUS membership. I’ve created a repeated loop for each section so you can practice each section in isolation.To get the backing tracks you can join the Bass Lab PLUS free with a 14 Day trial click here
The foundation of Every Breath You Take is a simple I-VI-IV-V chord sequence in the key of A. If you need help understanding the Roman Numeral or Nashville Number System check out this lesson.
Master these 8 bars before moving on using simple alternate picking.
Verse 1st & 2nd Time
There are two versions of the verse you need to learn which are very similar to 8 bar intro.
The only thing that changes is the last two bars of each 8 bar sequence.
The first time version ends with two bars of F# Minor. The 2nd Time version is just like the intro and ends with 2 bars of A.
Use my personal chord chart so you know the order to place the sections in.
The 8 bridge section moves up to a D which is chord IV in the key of A. Watch out for the unexpected alternate root ‘C’ in the bass in bar 2!
Half way through the song we hit the ‘Middle’ section of the song which is 10 bars long. This section is highly effective because it changes key and alternates between two bars of F and G.
Sting starts adding some octaves into his bass lines in this section. You can experiment with different octave patterns. I’ve given you one to get going with here.
Final Verse With Extra Bars
On the final verse of the song there are 6 extra bars. This is the last 4 bars of the 1st Time verse repeated with an extra 2 bars of F# minor.
Lesson Wrap Up
Every Breath You Take is the perfect song to really start developing the pick bass guitar technique. I would start off simply just playing pumping 8ths on the root notes using alternate picking
Once you are comfortable you can then start developing your own passing notes and fills. I would recommend checking out the Rock, Pop & Motown Bassline creation course inside the Bass Lab PLUS if you’d like to understand more about creating and constructing bass lines.
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Good luck and get stuck in!