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How to Play Walking Bass Lines in Fingerstyle Guitar

Learn how to play walking bass lines from guitarist Adam Smale in this online fingerstyle guitar lesson from Howcast.


Now we're going to talk about a walking bass line. We're going to add some extra notes to make it sound interesting, kind of more of a jazz approach, jazz walking bass line.

So, let's change the key back to the key G. We're going to add some chromatic notes. And so what I'm going to do, start off with our G. I'm going to move up to A, play a B flat or A sharp, if you prefer. Go up to B here. I've got to play four notes, because I'm playing four beats to a measure.

So I've got to play one, two, three, four and then as soon as I land on the C, I'm now in the C chord. So, as you can tell, that's a little bit more interesting than going [playing notes] because we're walking up [playing notes].

Now, let me explain what I'm doing there. I'm kind of just improvising, so it's going to be hard for me to explain. I didn't pre-plan this to know exactly what I'm playing. That's the beauty of this. Once you get this kind of technique down, you can improvise your bass line. One way to get used to improvising is to practice how to get from chord to chord. So, [playing notes] as we did that one to get to C, maybe practice how to get back to the G chord [playing notes].

So, I'm climbing my way up to C [playing notes], maybe I'll do that to get to a G chord [playing notes] and I'm playing a G9. So, I'll do that again [playing notes]. C9 [playing notes], climbing up [playing notes], now I'm climbing back down.

I just felt, "Oh, I'm going to go back down now," so [playing notes]. Back to the C [playing notes], back to G [playing notes], there's my A minor chord [playing notes]. Same approach that I did from G, but now I'm doing it from A [playing notes]. I'm going up a tone [playing notes], a semi-tone [playing notes], another semi-tone, these are chromatic notes to climb up to the D [playing notes].

Now, that's a really neat, easy way to create a bass line, a walking bass line, by approaching your chord tone, your root note, from either a fret below or a fret above [playing notes].

Hopefully that will get you started on learning how to do walking bass lines in a finger-style approach.

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