Walking Blues Bass Guitar Lesson Quick Start – Sweet Home Chicago Blues Brothers

Paolo Bass Lab PLUS Membership, blog, Song Analyse

In today’s I’m going to show you how to play Sweet Home Chicago on the Bass Guitar.

If you want to learn how to play Walking Blues Bass, this song is the perfect place to start. We’re going to be looking at the Blues Brothers version which features the legendary Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn on bass guitar.

Walking Bass in its most basic form is simply playing a note on each beat of the bar to create a consistent pulse which drives a piece of music forward. The great thing is Walking Bass can be as simple or complex as you like and it can be found in many, many genres of music.

If you need more help playing Walking Blues Bass make sure you check out module 4 of the Rookie Blues Bass Intensive inside the Bass Lab PLUS Membership.

Backing Tracks For Sweet Home Chicago

If you want to get the blues backing tracks used in this lesson they are available inside ‘The Backing Track Vault’ as part of the Bass Lab PLUS Membership.

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Part 1: Learn The 12 Bar Blues In E

We’re going to start off super simple by simply playing root notes on each beat of the bar. The most important thing is to make sure the pulse is strong and consistent. This is the first step to creating a solid Walking Blues Bass feel.

Sweet Home Chicago is based on a 12 Bar Blues in the key of E. This means there are 3 chords - E - A - B.

In bar 12, to make things more interesting I’ve added the simple blues ‘turnaround’ which you’ll hear Duck Dunn play many times in Sweet Home Chicago.  If this is tricky you’ll welcome to play 4 simple ‘B’ root notes instead— it’ll work fine!

Part 2: Adding A Walking Blues Bass Line

Here is a simple Walking Blues bass line inspired by the original Duck Dunn bass part. It uses the Root, 6th, 5th, 3rd of each chord respectfully and should fall nicely under the hand. I’ve left the turnaround in bar 12 in from the previous example.

Part 3:  Adding The ‘Stops’ or ‘Hits’

To finish off this lesson I want to show you one more important concept you’ll find in Sweet Home Chicago and many other blues songs. 

It’s very common to add Stops or Hit’s to blues songs to create light, shade and musical interest. These are very simple and just consist of playing a short punchy note on beat one of the first 3 bars. There is then a ‘Chromatic run up’ in bar 4 to take us up to the A chord.

I’ve added a new bass line (inspired by Duck Dunn’s original bass part) in bars 5 - 11. Try to get the slides in… as they sound really effective.

Lesson Wrap Up 

Songs like Sweet Home Chicago are the first step to learning rock solid blues walking blues bass guitar. Inside the Bass Lab PLUS we have a complete blues bass guitar course which expands on what’s taught in this lesson. If you want to learn blues bass guitar from the ground upwards make sure you check out the Rookie Blues Bass Intensive.

The Bass Lab PLUS is a complete program for the beginner to intermediate bass player - 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!


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