The Three Up, Three Down Trick for Walking Bass
Walking bass lines are a ton of fun. I love playing them, building from a basic idea in the beginning to more and more entertaining and complex concepts. When played well, I find them to be a welcome break from riff-based songs – for both myself and the listener.
Several weeks back I sent out a tip to email subscribers (sign-up form is at the top right of very page) that discussed the Three Up – Three Down trick. As I explained then, walking bass lines are most often about where you’re going, not where you are. And when you’re going to a chord, you can use either of these ideas to get there.
Basically, when going from one chord to another, you can play the three notes immediately below the note you’re approaching, going THREE UP, or play the three notes immediately above, going THREE DOWN.
Try this: Playing quarter notes (4 notes per measure), play the open A, then play B, C, and C#, then D on the downbeat of the second measure. That’s THREE UP. Now, play C, B and Bb, and you’re set to play A on the downbeat of the third measure. That’s THREE DOWN.
Several of the intermediate players on the list asked for a video to demonstrate how to incorporate this concept into walking bass lines. I finally had time to do the transcription, which is included with this lesson. Check out the video below, then download the PDF to learn the part.
I’ve recommended this before, but it’s worth repeating, because I never know which lesson a new visitor may start with: First, learn the sequence of notes, so you know exactly where you’re going to put your fingers. Don’t try to play in time; just learn where the notes are. Next, start at a very slow tempo so that you can play each line perfectly, ten times in a row. Then work your speed up two beats per minute at a time. I suggests you work on four measures at a time. Learn the first four measures, then the next four. Once you can play both sections, play them together. Then, learn the next four measures, and add them to what you know. Continue 4 measures at a time until you can play the entire piece.
Until next time, have fun, and…
Aim High – Play Low
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