My Bass Playing Progression

Texted my long-suffering daughter:

Breakthrough. After around 9 months working my way through Hall Leonard’s Fast track TABS bass text I gave it away to Kam. [A great nephew].

For my next text, Bass Method, there is only musical notation, zero tabs. But until then I learned how to play minor key scales on E and A up and down the neck. And the blues!

Blues goes like this: Pick a note on the D string. Play the 1-3 on D string (index-ring); play 1-2-3 on the A string-same fret (index-middle-ring); play 1-4 on E string-same fret (weak pinky so I hit the 4th position with ring finger; use the index for the root note as usual).

Throw in some extra notes, change up the rhythms, switch chords when required…you are jamming the blues. At least one simple blues lick anyway.

I’m mixing minor key and blues riffs right now cause I don’t know any better. It always sounds “good to me”-White Stripes. Guess I’m in a minor key blues phase.

Next up for me is learning the major scale finger pattern, then learning to mix up the minor and major keys up and down the neck, the ones that sound good together. Then speed up them fingers. Then I join the Sex Pistols.


In my mind.

My guru:

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4 thoughts on “My Bass Playing Progression

  1. Once you learn the major scale, you can do a blues progression. I think you’ll enjoy it. You can basically make up a riff in the blues scale, and play it starting on certain notes based on the major scale.

    The blues uses a I-IV-V progression, that means that the (1) or root, the (4) or 4th degree of the major scale and the (5) or fifth degree of the major scale are the 3 places where you want to start your riffs from. They’re capital Roman numerals because those particular positions usually use major notes. The others (which I didn’t list, because they’re not usually part of a blues progression) are all minor, so they’d be written using lowercase numerals, for example ii, iii, vi… the 7th is also minor, but it has another quality, so there’s a different symbol.

    But, anyway, since you know the blues scale, you can play a blues riff on any root you choose (lets call that the 1). Then stay on the same fret, but move up a string. That’s the 4 in the major scale – same fret, one string up. Play the same riff there. Then, go two frets up, on that same string. That’s the 5. Play the riff there. You’ve just played a I-IV-V progression. Have fun with it!

    If you want to go crazy and play an entire 12-bar blues, which is the most common form, the progression looks like this:


    In numbers, instead of Roman numerals, its like this:

    So, pick a riff, play it starting on whatever note you like. That’s the 1. Move up a string, but stay on the same fret. That’s the 4. Play it again, twice, on the 1. Then twice, again on the 4. Then twice on the 1. Then on the 5 (2 frets up the neck from the 4). Then the 4, the 1, and finally the 5.

    If you want to keep going, start over again. You can also change up the riffs, just start them on the right note on the progression. So, play a riff on the 1, then a different one on the 4, then back to the same on the 1, and maybe a different riff on the next 1, etc. You’ll get it – just use your ear.

    I’m glad you’re getting it and enjoying yourself!

    • Vish
      This is what I need. I’ll try them today. Near miraculous to be able to noodle along in any key and hear so few notes out of key-if I don’t flub the fingering. Thanks.

  2. Also, once you have it under your fingers and can quickly find the 1, 4 and 5, go to YouTube and do a search for blues backing tracks for bass. People basically publish tracks without the bass that you can use for practice. They usually list the speed too, so you can choose a slow one, fast one, or whatever and make up a bassline and play along with it. Some of them even show the progression onscreen, so you know where you are and can more easily play in the right position.

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