In this bass guitar lesson, we’re continuing the idea of the 40,000ft view… where we zoom out and look at the structure and sequence behind a song. Make sure you check out the last lesson on Black Magic Woman...this demonstrates that once we understand the structure / form it’s much easier to create and construct our own bass lines.
We’re now going to take a look at the verse sequence from Stuck In The Middle With You (By Stealers Wheel) and demonstrate how you can start ‘opening up’ the fingerboard with a concept called the Lower Drop.
The Lower Drop
One of the things I see time and time again is that many students often only think of creating bass lines ascending from the root. A lot of the time this will be fine if you are rooting on the E string, however it can leave you with limited options and a lot of notes you are ignoring when you are rooting on the D string. Let me demonstrate:
Here is a standard D major scale...
It’s also possible to virtually play all of the notes down the octave. Notice how the note names are identical.
When we think of playing a D Major Scale like this you can start to see how the options for our bass lines start to really expand. There are so many great bass lines you can explore when you drop down below the root.
Stuck In The Middle With You
Before we take the bass line apart, here is the chord sequence for the verse of this iconic song:
|| D | % | %| %|
| G | %| D| % |
| A | C G| D| % ||
Strictly speaking, this song is not a 12 bar blues but there are many similarities in the sequence.
Here is a 1 bar bass line taken from the original song. You will see the idea of ‘Lower Drop’ especially when the line drops down to the low F# on beat 3. This bass line can be superimposed on to any bar of D in the sequence above.
You can then transpose this into ‘G’ for usage over any of the G chords.
Here are my ideas to create a bass line for bars 9 & 10. Bar 9 is based on an a classic rock ‘n’ roll line and bar 10 is based on the Jimi Hendrix song ‘Hey Joe’.
The Complete Sequence
We can then piece all these ideas together to create a bass line that will sound great over all 12 bars of the verse sequence.
Lesson Wrap Up
That concludes our lesson. You can further improve your skills by practicing and integrating what you've learned from the Lower Drop with your playing.
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Good luck and get stuck in!