Watch the Sunday Mornin' online guitar lesson by Andrew Ford from Essentials: Walking Bass Lines
Ok lets breakdown this gospel or shout music type walking bass line. It starts with a slide that leads into a pickup bar which are notes or beats that lead into the 1st beat of the phrase. You can use a number of different types of slides, I chose to use one that I associate with Marcus Miller. It first slides up the neck on the D string, then back down on the G string. After that we have our pick up notes which walk up chromatically from F and start on beat 2 which leads us to our first note of the phrase, Ab. Now in bar one we have our standard shout walking bass line when you have a 1-5 progression. We will walk up from Ab to the major 3rd, C. Then we start on a chromatic journey from C, to Db, to D, and finally Eb which is where the chord change is. From the Eb we go up a whole step to F and again walk chromatically to Gb, G, and finally to the octave Ab which is the first beat of the new phrase. That is our "go to" line when walking over this type of progression. In bars 2 and 3 we repeat that same line, repetition is good here. In bar 4 we change it slightly by shifting to a new octave for the Ab chord then coming back down to the same octave as before for the second half of the bar over Eb. Bar 5 we start on the higher Ab, D string 6th fret, and then go down to our same chromatic walk up from C to Eb, but then we shift octaves again for the F and move to the lower octave, 1st fret on the E string. The next bar, 6, is our same walk from bar 1, in bars 7 and 8 we repeat the line in bar 4. That is one way we create variety in this type of walking line by shifting octaves of the pattern. Now in bar 9 we move away from that foundational shout line and do a descending walk starting on Ab on the D string walking down to the flat 7, Gb, then chromatically down to F, E, and finally Eb on beat 3. From there we make our way back up to Ab by going from the Eb to F or the two of the new chord, chromatically again to Gb, G, and finally Ab, the one or root of the new bar. We repeat this new bass line for bars 10 and 11. The fingering on this one can be a little tricky, find what is most comfortable, I normally try to avoid the open strings. In bar 12 we reintroduce the figure from bar 5. In bar 13 we introduce a new alternate line, this one has some bigger interval skips going from the root Ab, to the major 3rd, C, then to the flat 7, Gb, and lastly to the 6, F. From the F we go to one of our standard phrases from Eb to F and then up chromatically. In bar 14 we have another slightly angular variation going from the higher Ab on the D string down to the major 3rd C, chromatically to Db and then to the 6, F. From there we repeat our chromatic line from the last bar. In bar 15 we repeat our line from bar 5 again to give it a little more stability and then set up the new phrase but doing a stop on beat 1 of bar 16 and repeating our same walk up from the pick bar in the beginning. This sets up our 1 to 4 progression. We again start with a foundational bass line in this style which starts on Ab and then walks up to Bb and then chromatically using B, C, and finally Db for beat 3 and the new chord. From there we skip down to the major 3rd, F and again walk up chromatically to Gb, G, and finally back to Ab. Using all four fingers on your left hand makes this pattern easy to do in one position. We repeat this figure for bars 2 and 3 to establish the feel. Then we start to alter it a bit in the second half of bar 20 where we go from the Db to the higher F on the D string and then up chromatically again to the high Ab on the D string. Bar 21 has the same line from bar 20 except it starts on the higher Ab, and bars 22 and 23 are the same as bar 17 except we move everything up and octave. Bar 24 repeats bar 21, you can see how we shuffle these patterns around to keep it interesting. Ok, in bar 25 is where we deviate from the standard 1-4 pattern with some different interval jumps. In the first half of bar 25 we go from the higher Ab down to the minor 3rd, B, since we are playing a minor chord here. There are no rules here, the chord quality can vary quite a bit from player to player in this style of music. After the B we jump back up to the 5, Eb and walk down chromatically to D before resuming our typical Db motif over the second half of the bar. Bar 26 repeats bar 22. The next bar, 27, has a blues scale motif in the first half using the root Ab, down to Gb, the minor 7th, next is the 5, Eb and the b5 or #4, D and finally Db. The 2nd half of the bar has our chromatic line starting from low F. For a different flavor we can use all sorts of combinations of notes as long as they fit harmonically as we do in bar 28 that begins the 1st half with a common walk up from Ab but once it gets to the Db we use a combination of notes forming a 1-3-6-2 pattern where the 2, Eb resolves nice to the Ab in bar 29 with a 5-1 resolution. Bars 29 and 30 are the same as bar 17, the standard pattern and bar 31 is a variation we covered in bar 20. In bar 32 we have another stop on Ab before setting up the 1-5 phrase again with the chromatic walk up from F.