Here’s a Method That’s Helping Guitarists Play Basslines


When it comes time to learn a new technique, such as basslines, on guitar, we tend to try and jump to the top of the mountain rather than take the slow climb. 


It’s easy to hear a full walking bassline and think, “Wow, I want to do that!”


But when you sit down to play a full bassline you quickly realize that jumping to the top of that mountain is a bit out of your reach right now.


Rather than be discouraged in your practicing, switch your approach to the slower, but much more accessible, route.


Learning how to play root notes on beat one of any new chord might seem like a small step forward when learning bass lines


But, the root note is the most important note in any bassline as it states the current chord and resolves any tension in your line. 


Because of this, learning to play root notes on the first beat of any new chord is the best and most important place to begin in your bassline studies. 


In this lesson, you learn how to apply root notes to any chord and progression when playing basslines. 


The best first step in your bassline journey is in this lesson, time to get walkin’.


Turnaround Bassline Exercise


The first exercise in this lesson runs the root notes over a turnaround in the key of C major. 


To help you get the most out of this exercise, here’s a guide to tackling this workout in the practice room. 


- Look over the written notes/tab for a few minutes and plan ahead. 

- Visualize the root notes on the 6th and 5th strings. 

- Play the notes with a slow metronome, or no tempo. 

- Work the exercise over the backing track if ready. 

- Sing along for added benefit. 

- Record yourself and listen back for instant feedback. 

- Enjoy yourself!


Have fun working on this first exercise as you develop a strong bassline foundation in your playing.

Audio Example 1

Backing Track 1

Rhythm Changes Bassline Exercise


Here’s the second exercise for today’s workout where you play root notes for each chord in the A section of Rhythm Changes.  


Here are some helpful practice tips to get you started with this workout. 


- Look at the written notes/tab for a few seconds to plan ahead. 

- Visualize the root notes on the 6th and 5th strings. 

- Play the notes with a slow metronome, or no tempo. 

- Work the exercise over the backing track if ready. 

- Sing along for added benefit. 

- Record yourself and listen back for instant feedback. 

- Enjoy yourself!


Have fun with this exercise as you solidify your root note basslines over these faster-moving chords.

Audio Example 2

Backing Track 2

Jazz Blues Bassline Exercise


Here’s the final exercise for this intro to bassline lesson where you play the root note for each chord in a jazz blues progression. 


To help you get the most out of this exercise in your practice routine, here are some tips to get started. 


- Look over the written notes/tab for a few seconds and plan ahead.

- Visualize the root notes on the 6th and 5th strings. 

- Play the notes with a slow metronome, or no tempo. 

- Work the exercise over the backing track if ready. 

- Sing along for added benefit. 

- Record yourself and listen back for instant feedback. 

- Enjoy yourself!


Have fun with this exercise and feel free to move the notes around the strings if you’re ready. 


So, notes on the 5th string can move to the 6th string and vice versa.

Audio Example 3

Backing Track 3

Bassline Challenge 1 - Footprints


The first challenge in this lesson, which you spend 10 minutes on, is to play root notes over the chords to Footprints in 3/4 time. 


Here are important items to keep in mind with this exercise. 


- Take a second to look over the chords and plan ahead. 

- Visualize the root notes on the 5th and 6th strings first. 

- Set your metronome to a slow tempo. 

- Set a timer for 10 minutes so you don’t overdo the exercise. 

- Play as many root notes over the progression as possible. 

- Play over the backing track if you feel ready. 

- Sing along for added ear training. 

- Focus on groove, accuracy, and swing feel. 


Now that you know your goals and how to practice this exercise, set your timer for 10 minutes and go for it! 


Remember, don’t play for more than 10 minutes


Learning any concept on guitar is cumulative, so focus on consistent practice over time rather than cramming more time in today. 


Lastly, have fun!

Backing Track 4

Bassline Challenge 2 – Autumn Leaves


You’re now ready for the second challenge in this lesson, which you spend 10 minutes working on in your studies. 


This challenge is based on the chords to Autumn Leaves and contains a repeat sign to watch out for. 


The two lines and double dots at the end of bars 1 and 8 mean that you play bars 1-8 twice before moving on from there. 


If you get lost in the form with this challenge, double-check to make sure you’re using the repeat signs, as that’s the easiest way to get lost. 


Here are some pointers to help as you play the root notes over these chords. 


- Take a minute to look over the chords and plan ahead. 

- Map out the root notes on the 5th and 6th strings. 

- Set a timer for 10 minutes. 

- Work the exercise as much as you can in that time. 

- Don’t focus on the quantity of time, focus on the quality of practice. 

- Play the bass notes with a slow metronome. 

- Work with the backing track if ready. 

- Sing along for added ear training. 

- Enjoy!


Now that you know how to work this challenge, set your timer, grab your metronome and/or backing track, and have fun!


Backing Track Autumn Leaves