Watch the Steady 8th's online guitar lesson by David Santos from 50 Bass Grooves You MUST Know
Steady 8ths is a 12 bar blues in Bb with a straight 8th bass line throughout most of the form. It starts on the 5 chord with some hits also known as backbeats for the intro of 4 bars, meaning that an F7 is played on beats 2 and 4 without playing anything on beats one or three. This creates an effect that can be used at different times in composition, arranging or improvisation as a walking bassist. The main bass line of this song is meant to be played very straight and solidly 8th note based for most of the tune. Occasional staggered or upbeat syncopations are used as a juxtaposition to the standard that has been set by playing the very straight 8th notes throughout the piece. Syncopation is the displacement of the beat, accents, or rhythms, so that strong beats become weak or weak beats become strong and are a different feeling from the usual. Therefore, by playing very straight you are giving rise to the possibility of greater rhythmic and musical effect being achieved by the other instruments using syncopation against the straight rhythms.
Notice that the band plays the 5 chord in an orchestrated turnaround as a rhythm phrase of 16th notes at measure 10 while the bass continues to walk straight through in straight eighths beneath the figure.