In this bass guitar lesson I’m going to show you how to learn Walking Bass in less than 10 minutes using a jazz standard all bass players should know.
This lesson is inspired by one of my Bass Lab PLUS Students called Dave who is a great intermediate standard bass player who is always out gigging with bands and playing at jam sessions. He felt he was light years away from being able to play Walking Bass and this is exactly how I showed him how to breakdown a typical jazz standard in two simple sections.
I Got Rhythm or ‘Rhythm Changes’
To demonstrate how to create a complete 32 bar Walking Bass Line over A jazz standard we are going to use the George Gershwin tune ‘I Got Rhythm.
I Got Rhythm is unquestionably one of the top 4 or 5 jazz tunes all bass players should know. There are two reasons for this:
1) It has seminal chord sequence which countless Jazz Tunes are based on. Make sure you listen to the cartoon theme tune ‘The Flintstones’, Anthropology (by Charlie Parker) or Straighten Up And Fly Right (Nat King Cole) and it’s exactly the same chord sequence and structure as I Got Rhythm
2) This tune is played at Jam Sessions across the world all of the time. It’s probably the next most popular chord sequence to the Jazz Blues. Often musicians will just refer to it as ‘Rhythm Changes’ and the rhythm section will know exactly chords to play.
Get The Backing Track
The backing track used in this album is part of the Jazz Jam Backing Track Album Volume 2. This is an album of 12 of the most popular jazz tunes found at jam sessions. You can purchase you copy via this link.
I Got Rhythm - Basic Structure
I Got Rhythm is a 32 bar A-A-B-A tune. This means all we have to do is repeat the 32 bar structure and we have the whole tune!
With in this 32 bar structure are 4 ‘sub sections’. An A section which is repeated 3 times in total and a B section which is repeated once, in the format A - A - B - A.
This means we can simplify the whole song down into two 8 bar sections to begin with… it’s that simple.
Start off by learning the A section by splitting that down into 4 x 2 bar phrases. Then learn the B section and put it all together using the backing track in the Jazz Jam Volume 2 Album.
To show the next step I’m going to add some simple upper and lower chromatics. It’s the simplest way of creating that classic Jazz Walking Bass sound.
The beauty of mixing upper and lower chromatic approach notes is it creates patterns which fall wonderfully ‘under the hand’… All of the notes with the square bracket above will fall in one hand position.
I’ve demonstrated this idea over the A section.The Chromatic Method is part of my 3M System For Walking Bass which simplifies learning Walking Bass into 3 core methods. You can learn more about Chromatic Approach notes in chapter 3 of my book “The Essential Guide To Walking Bass” for bass guitar players.
Lesson Wrap Up
Learning Walking Bass is without doubt the fastest and most powerful way to learn the fingerboard and understand how to create bass lines over any chord or chord sequence.
I’ve seen so many students feel like it’s something that’s completely unachievable…. But the reality is with the right instruction any bass player can learn it quickly.
If you’re a beginner to intermediate bass player and want to take this lesson to the next level we have a whole Walking Bass Course called The Essential Walking Bass Course inside the Bass Lab PLUS membership. - 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!