Closed Box Shuffle in A
The shuffle feel is one of the most important styles for a Blues bassist to master. If you can’t shuffle, you can’t play the Blues. And the box shuffle is one of the most-used set of lines used. I’ve heard these also called “Chicago Shuffle” and “Blues March Shuffle.” To learn more about the basic patters, check out my lesson Blues March Shuffles.
This lesson is about a “closed box” shuffle. This is my term for it, but there may be other names out there. The reason for the name is that this line doesn’t cover a complete octave (from root note to octave above). Instead it stays between the root and the fifth below it.
As usual, the video opens with a demo of the riff at tempo. I then show you the notes one at a time, followed by demos several slow tempos, until we reach normal speed. Near the end, I show you the variations used when playing this riff over a 12 bar Blues. The outro shows you the riff over a 12 bar Blues.
Again, the best way to work on this is to first learn the notes in sequence (but not in time). Once you know where you’re fingers are supposed to go, practice the riff at tempo that’s slow enough that you can play it perfectly ten times (or more!) in a row. Then increase your tempo by two beats per minute (bpm) until you’re playing it at normal speed. Next, practice going from one chord to another, in each combination required to play a 12 bar Blues. In this case, that would be A to D and back, A to E, and E to D. Learn the variation for each of these changes, and bring them up to speed. Then, all that’s left is to put it all together into a 12 bar Blues and get jamming.
Once you have this one down in A, work on playing it in other keys. The more keys you’re comfortable with, the better off you will be. Have fun, and remember:
Aim High – Play Low
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