Watch the Roots On The Downbeats online guitar lesson by John Goldsby from Upright Bass Handbook

This playalong track features two choruses of blues in Bb. We're going to play whole notes (4 beats each) on the roots of each chord. This is a simple bassline, but it lays the groundwork for being able to find notes and play lines all over the double bass. Knowing these essential techniques will also help you create, write, and improvise effective basslines over any type of chord progression.

Be sure you know where each of the notes is found on the fingerboard. I've written in the left hand finger that you use to play the note, and the string where you find the note. All of these notes are found in the half position, which is just above the nut at the top of the fingerboard. Feel the groove set up by the drums and piano, and place your notes on the downbeat of each measure. Hold out each note for the full value, and shift to the next root on beat 1 of each bar.

A key element in getting a good sound and groove is the precise coordination of the left hand movement (pressing the new note down) and the right hand attack.

In addition to laying down a strong rhythmic groove, bass players should also outline the chord progression to the song they are playing. The easiest way to outline the harmony is to always play the root of the chord on beat 1 or each measure. In this playalong track, we break down this essential skill by first playing only the roots of each chord on a 12-bar Bb blues. Be sure to hold each note for the full value (4 beats), and then shift to the next root at the last possible millisecond. Stay in time, but hold each note for the full value. By learning to shift quickly and precisely, you'll prepare yourself for the faster basslines with more notes that come in lessons to follow.