Welcome to Jazz Bass Today. If you are here, it’s likely that you’re interested in learning more about jazz bass and/or jazz bass guitar. You may be a beginning or intermediate player looking for some new ideas or concepts to help with your playing, or you may be an advanced player looking for fresh new perspectives on jazz bass playing and/or jazz bass guitar lessons.
It should also be noted that this site is geared toward the electric bass guitar, although all of the concepts and skills can be applied to the acoustic bass as well.
New information will be added on a regular basis so please check back frequently, and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.
The bass guitar is a vital element of any jazz ensemble. The bass guitar is the harmony instrument, providing the foundation of the chord progression along with the drums. The bass guitar plays an active role in the groove by establishing the pulse and rhythm of the music.
The bass player must be able to play in both time and space. Bass players need a solid sense of time and rhythm to keep the groove going. Bass lines must be played within the context of the chord changes and provide forward motion to keep things moving. Bass players need to know how they can fit into a group setting and be comfortable playing with other musicians.
Bass players need to develop a large vocabulary of bass lines, patterns, rhythmic ideas, and melodic shapes that relate to chord changes and progressions. They should have a good understanding of theory so they have a clear idea of how all their lines work together harmonically with everything else that’s going on in their ensemble.
Bass players usually begin by learning how to play with recorded music or jam tracks. They might use a metronome as well to help them develop an awareness for time and rhythm. Then, as they get more advanced, they will learn how to play over chord changes by learning standard tunes from the jazz repertoire that
The bass guitar plays the lowest notes in a band. The bass guitar plays the root note, fifth and octave of whatever chord is being played. The bass guitar plays all the notes of the chord except for the third note (the third note will be played by one of the other instruments, usually a piano or guitar).
The bass guitar’s role is to provide a solid foundation for the rest of the music.
The bass guitar is not as complicated as other instruments because it does not have as many strings. It has four strings that are tuned to E, A, D, and G. The lowest string is E because it creates a lower tone than A. The lowest string on a bass guitar is also larger than an electric guitar’s low E string which makes it easy to play.
In jazz, the bassist is the first “time keeper” in the band. It is your job to keep a steady groove and keep the band in time. Many styles of music have the bass player playing a steady eighth note feel on the root of each chord. This is not jazz.
In jazz, you will only be playing a steady eighth note feel on the root of each chord about 30% of the time. The other 70% of the time is spent playing walking bass lines (which are 8th notes), or playing comping patterns (playing chords) under somebody else’s solo.
A jazz bass line usually consists of two things: arpeggios and scales. You may be asking yourself, “what’s an arpeggio?” An arpeggio is when you play each note in a chord individually, rather than all at once as a chord. For example, if you were to play a C major triad (C E G), which is just three notes (C major), you could play it as a single C major triad chord, or you could play it as an arpeggio by playing the notes one at a time; C-E-G-E-C.
Jazz bass is the use of the double bass or bass guitar to improvise accompaniment (“comping”) basslines and solos in a jazz or jazz fusion style. Players began using the double bass in jazz in the 1890s to supply the low-pitched walking basslines that outlined the chord progressions of the songs.
From the 1920s and 1930s Swing and big band era, through 1940s Bebop and 1950s Hard Bop, to the 1960s-era “free jazz” movement, the resonant, woody sound of the double bass anchored everything from small jazz combos to large jazz big bands. During the 1950s and 1960s, some players began to use electric bass guitars (fretless electric basses were also used) in major or minor jazz ensembles. Since then many leading jazz bands have had one or more electric bassists.
Double bass players playing in a professionally styled jazz format commonly use accompaniment figures such as “walking” bass lines that outline chord progressions with scalar runs between arpeggios and tonic notes. Chordal, scalar runs are played simultaneously with occasional soloing during up-tempo numbers; slower ballads feature unaccompanied double bass with a melodic line improvised
This lesson will focus on a jazz bass style, which is the most common type of bass guitar playing for jazz and fusion. The key to this style is to keep the bass line busy and flowing, with a healthy dose of syncopation and chromatic movement. A good exercise is to take any jazz standard and try to come up with variations on the chord progressions.
There are many different styles of jazz bass playing, from more traditional walking lines, to funky slap bass, to more modern soloing styles. But for now we will focus on the basic jazz walking line, which is a great place for anyone who is new to playing jazz bass guitar to start.
The goal here is to play something that fits well with the other instruments in the band, but also has enough chromatic movement and interest so that it doesn’t sound boring or repetitive. There are two basic ways that this can be accomplished: by using lots of chromatic notes in your lines, or by using lots of syncopation in your rhythms. Both techniques are important aspects of playing good jazz bass lines.
The combination of a walking bass line and swing feel is the essential foundation of jazz. In this video drumless jazz backing track, we’ll explore how to create a walking bass line on top of a swing feel. The key to creating a great walking bass line is to think in quarter notes.
We’ll start by practicing a steady rhythm pattern with our right hand. You can use either your fingers or pick for this, but use whatever feels best for you.
The key to creating a great walking bass line is to think in quarter notes. We’ll start by practicing a steady rhythm pattern with our right hand. You can use either your fingers or pick for this, but use whatever feels best for you.
The first step in creating a walking bass line is to practice playing only the root note of each chord on the first beat of every measure. This gives us our rhythm guide and helps us stay locked into the groove.