One of the things I encourage all of my brand new beginner to intermediate students to do is learn blues bass guitar, when they join my Bass Lab PLUS training program.
Blues is hugely powerful because the 12 bar blues sequence is found in virtually every style of popular music—Rock ‘n’ Roll to 70s Classic Rock, Walking Bass / Jazz to Funk, Pop to Country Music.
Learning Blues Bass is also the quickest way to get jamming with other musicians because ‘Blues Jam Sessions’ appear at pubs and bars all over the world… and the 3 chords I’m going to show today don’t change!
What’s more playing Blues is very straightforward to start learning… so to help you hit the ground running, I'm going to show you how to learn blues bass guitar in less than 10 minutes today.
Get The Backing Track
I highly recommend grabbing the backing track used in this lesson called ‘Jakes Blues’ — this will allow you to feel what it’s like to play with a top class, professional blues band.The backing track can be found as part of the Blues Jam Backing Track Album. The 12 tracks allow you to explore different styles of music that use the 12 Bar Blues Sequence and experience playing it in a variety of important key signatures. Here’s the Link: Get The Blues Jam Backing Track Album
Part One : Mastering The 12 Bar Blues
The first thing any bass player needs to do when learning blues bass guitar is learn the 12 Bar Blues Sequence. The great news is it only has 3 chords. In the case of Jake’s Blues we are in the key signature of G major. This means the 3 chords are going to a G, C and D. You may also hear these referred to as chords I, IV & V if you use the Nashville Number System.
Make sure you observe the distinctive ‘L’ shape the 3 notes make on the neck.
To begin with just play the blues sequence using quarter notes or one note beats.
When comfortable with quarter notes or one note per beat, try playing two notes per beat or 8th notes. This will have a much more exciting, ‘driving’ effect. Make sure you use alternate fingering with your plucking hand.
Part 2: Adding The ‘Triad’ Riff
When you’re 100% comfortable with the 12 Bar Blues Sequence the next step is to add a one bar riff.
The ‘Triad Riff’ is used extensively in early Rock ‘n’ Roll Music from the 1950s and early 1960s. The ‘Triad’ uses the Root, Third & Fifth of each chord.
Start each riff on a second finger on your fretting hand and the notes should fall easily ‘under the hand’ (using the one finger per fret system).
Once you’ve learned the ‘G Triad Riff’ in bar one it’s simple to create the riff for the C and D chord, by just moving the shape you’ve created around the fingerboard.
Part 3 : Adding The ‘Box Shape’ Riff
Next we’re going to create a simple riff using what’s commonly known as the ‘Box Shape’. Look at how each note relates to each other on the fingerboard and you’ll see why it’s called the Box Shape.
This riff uses 4 ‘Power Notes’ that make up so many great bass bass lines - The Root, Fifth, Flat 7th & Octave.
This riff generally has a far ‘Bluesier’ sound than the ‘Triad Riff’.
Bonus Part 4: Adding Stops
As a bonus to this Blues Bass Guitar lesson I just want to highlight a simple yet powerful device which is used in Jake’s Blues called ‘Stops’.
Stops are where you just play the first note of each bar. It’s a chance to add light and shade and in this instance let the guitar player shine. You’ll hear this device used time and time again in blues music.
Each note has an ‘Accent’ (>) above it which means it the note should be played loudly and aggressively.
Lesson Wrap Up
As I said earlier the beauty of blues is it’s very simple and quick to get going.
Like any style of music there’s also a lot of depth to it too. If you’re interested in taking the ideas in this lesson to the next level, make sure you check out my blues course “The Rookie Blues Bass Intensive”.
Here you can learn skills like how to play the blues sequence in different styles, how to create riffs, fills and walking bass, turnarounds, and how to play the blues sequence in any key.
In fact you can learn all the skills you need to play at a Blues Jam Session in just 6 weeks.
The Rookie Blues Bass Intensive can be found inside the Bass Lab PLUS. - Join FREE Today with a 14 day trial.
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!