Constructing walking jazz bass lines in 12 keys Homepage



Walking bass lines in 12 keys

Building a 12 key facility for the jazz bassist. 10 classic jazz standard chord progressions in 12 keys with fully written out bass lines.



Classic bebop walking bass line from Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines Book IV Building a 12 key facility for the jazz bassist.
Jazz walking bass lines in 12 keys, scales, modes,arpeggio studies.
Jazz Bass Lines – Building a 12 key Facility for the Jazz Bassist Pt II Scale, modes and arpeggio studies in 12 keys. A must have technical study for bass players 



Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines

Listening to a great jazz bass player walking bass lines was the defining moment for me. Once I heard that sound, I knew that was what I was going to do. The record was Giant Steps and the bassist was  Paul Chambers.

Like many bass players, once they’re exposed to jazz thats what they want to do.The aim of our site is to make available the information to get bass players to that point. Like all good teachers, my first recommendation is to listen to as much music as you can. Listen to great bass players. Theres an endless list. Milt Hinton, Jimmy Blanton, Slam Stewart, Percy Heath, Doug Watkins, Paul Chambers, Wilbur Ware, Ron Carter, Ray Brown, Herbie Lewis.

Take the time to absorb the music and find out who the bass player is on the record date. Chances are that if your just starting out listening to records you will tune in to a particular style of walking bass player. Theres a big difference between Wilbur Ware and Paul Chambers.What is it that sets them apart ? They both play great and played with many of the same musicians of the time. The more you listen, and the more experience you gain,  the easier it is to define the differences.


Transcribing records is another important aspect of playing walking bass lines. As any good teacher will tell you. Pick out your favorite bass line or bass player and sit down and try to work it out. In the beginning it can be slow, but like all things with practice it gets easier. The thing about transcribing is it develops many aspects of your playing at the same time.It develops your walking bass line vocabulary. It strengthens your technique, and it is great for your ear. Being able to hear root movement and recognize chord sequences is a very important skill to develop.

Walking Bass Line example from Book III Standard Lines.


Sample walking bass line on Classic jazz standard chord progression Taken from Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines Book III Standard Lines.  




Practicing – How to practice walking bass lines


When first starting out trying to learn to play jazz or walking bass lines it can be hard to know where to start.

If you can find a teacher, your off to a good start. Chances are they have already listened to and experienced most of what you are trying to learn.

A good teacher can help you with jazz harmony , learning to play the instrument and guide you in some great albums to listen to.

The good thing about listening to great records is playing along with them. This brings us back to transcribing. Work out a small section of bass line and then play along with the record.

Walking bass line books

Jazz method books or walking bass line books can also be a great resource for learning to play jazz. When I was first starting out on Upright bass I studied with a teacher and worked out of Simandl (the Bible for upright players. I also studied out of jazz harmony books as well as the Ray Brown Book. Since then I have written many of my own books that each work on a different aspect of walking bass line techniques and jazz harmony.

All books are available in either standard notation or bass tab. Having the bass tab option is for the bass guitar player and will hopefully inspire them to read standard notation.

Being able to read music can open doors.

Jazz bass lessons

If your looking for a good teacher and there isn’t one in your area, contact me. I Teach lessons online and have taught people from all over the world using that system.

I studied with Charles Banacos using that style of teaching, Charlie was in Boston and I was in New York at the time. We sent lessons to each other.

My email is

Piano Basics for Bass Players

Piano basics the ii V I progression 

The example below shows the ii V I progression, one of the most common building blocks in jazz harmony. 

It is very important for bass players as well as all instruments to be able to recognize this sound. The example below shows aa common voicing incorporating good voice leading.

Practice these exercises until they are comfortable, when the piano voicing are familiar the goal is to play them in all 12 keys. 

The ii V I chord progression Basic piano voicing

Piano Basics for Bass Players. Examples of piano voicing for the ii min7 V7 I maj progression. One of the most common building blocks of functional jazz harmony.

The ii V I progression one of the most common building blocks of jazz functional harmony.   Shown in the exercises above.

The ii V progression is built into most jazz standard chord progressions as well as the Blues and Rhythm changes

At some time or another most great musicians have invested some of their practice time into working on the piano. If you want to write or arrange make the piano your friend. Start today, tomorrow never comes.

Bass Lessons

Bass Lessons for Upright Bass and Bass Guitar.

Bass Lessons - Study jazz bass anywhere in the world.

A developed system of stepwise learning to build bass technique, jazz harmony knowledge and musicianship.

Bass Lessons and where to start. Studying with a good bass teacher is important for the beginning student and can also be beneficial to those that are more experienced. Sometimes just hearing a different perspective on a common topic or device can inspire motivation and the rejuvenate the creative thought process. 

Depending on where you are, it can be difficult to find a good teacher. Over the years of teaching different levels of students I have developed a system that enables a student to work on what they are interested in, while learning rudiments and fundamentals at the same time. 

A developed system.

Heres an example. Working on a jazz walking bass line.

A student comes in and wants to learn the intro to So What by Miles Davis. Working out the bass line involves many different aspects. Theres the technical side, how to finger the bass line on either upright bass or bass guitar. What is the underlying harmony or function of the piece being played ? As well as the ear training side, listening to the piece of music and finding it on the bass.

Working out a part, if done correctly can help you to learn more than one thing at the same time.

My lessons work around this strategy of using fundamental bass building blocks. Developing an awareness of jazz harmony, ear training and technical facility while learning a piece or topic the student enjoys.  

Its a matter of making a series of small steps that combine to make the player much more experienced as a bass player in any setting.

Lesson Topics..

To learn more about bass lessons from anywhere in the world contact me at.. 

I use the same type of lesson system made famous by the great jazz teacher Charlie Banacos.  Its a series of recorded lessons to work on areas the student wants to learn sent via email. 


Bass Lessons

Study bass anywhere in the world with online bass lessons. All lessons are designed for the students goals and skill level.


Blog Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines

Welcome to the Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines blog. Jazz Bass articles  tips,  luthier and repair tips and resources for the upright bass and bass guitar. Check back often or subscribe to our blog by joining the mailing list at

Jazz Bass Book and Lesson Promo.

Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines Book and Lesson promotion. Buy any five books from our collection of walking bass books and receive 5 free bass lessons. Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines Book and lesson deal. From now until January 1st 2019 we are running a jazz bass promotion.  Book I The Blues in 12 keys. …

Walking bass line Masters.

Walking bass line Masters.
Next time your listening to your favorite bass player walk bass lines, take the time to really tune into the finer details. How are they outlining the ii V progression, or the turnaround, or how are they setting up the top of the tune as the soloists change over?

Bass Tab

Bass Tab Jazz, Blues and Walking Bass Lines in 12 keys. 


Jazz bass tab - the blues in 12 keys

Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines Book I the blues in 12 keys

Book I The Blues in 12 Keys Bass Tab Edition


The Blues in 12 Keys Book I in the Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines series is an excellent resource for bass players looking for walking bass tab.

The book cover many aspects of jazz and blues harmony all fully notated ion bass tab and standard notation.  There are over 100 variations of walking bass lines written over the jazz blues progression suitable for the beginner to advanced bass guitar player. 

The blues in 12 keys outlines the key fundamental areas all the professional players know and use to build their bass lines. 

Bass Tab examples from the book..

Watch the video showing a Bass line written in bass tab from Book I The Blues in 12 keys. Notated using bass tab


Daily Warm Ups & Technique Builders…

Bas tab exercises for bass guitar in 12 keys

Daily warm ups for bass – bass tab exercises to build technique and fretboard knowledge

Daily Warm Ups for Bass Guitar



For Bass Players working on expanding their technique and knowledge of scales and chords Daily Warm Ups for bass is another excellent resource. This bass tab study shows how to build the fundamentals of jazz harmony, by connecting bass triads and chords to the major scale. As well as showing the models related to the major scale, with exercises outlining sequences of bass patterns. The bass scale exercises are shown in all keys and are played in all registers on the bass.The bass exercises in this book are an excellent way to gain knowledge of the fingerboard while learning the fundamentals of harmony which can be applied to jazz, rock, blues, pop etc.

Bass Tab – Jazz Standard walking bass lines


Bass tab examples over jazz standard chord progressions

Standard Lines – Walking bass lines using standard jazz chord progressions. Fully notated in bass tab

Book III Standard Lines Bass Tab Edition



Book III Standard Line is for the bass player wanting to dig deeper into jazz bass playing and jazz harmony.Standard Lines has many advanced jazz walking bass techniques all notated using bass tab and standard notation. It is recommended to use the exercises to learn to read music.  Practice the exercise using the bass tab and once familiar, apply that knowledge to learning to read the standard notation. Its really not that difficult, and can open many doors. Standard lines goes deeper into how to construct walking bass lines with examples using modes from major and melodic minor harmony. Having a strong understanding of these concepts will enable the bassist to build strong bass lines in any musical setting. While working on expanding your technique I highly recommend trying to work on some piano chops.  This is great for ear training and being able to recognize chord sequences and root movement. These skills will also help you to become a better transcriber. I have written about transcribing and provided some basic piano voicing for bass players on this website.Take advantage of these free resources. 

Free jazz play along downloads ..

Take advantage of the free play along downloads, use these piano and drum backing tracks to practice playing your bass lines with good time and feel. They are also good for listening to when working on recognizing chord progressions.

Listen to the Masters …

Walking Bass Line Masters and Jazz Albums Bucket list are also highly recommended resources on this website. These articles give you a list of many of the greatest players in jazz and mentions some of the records that may be helpful when learning jazz and developing a walking bass line vocabulary.

Developing a practice routine

When starting out learning to play bass or learning to play jazz bass its important to define some of your goals.  Make a plan and work your plan.Already discussed are some of the aspects to add to your practice routine. Determine how much time you have to practice, then decide what you are going to work on. I would suggest starting with some warm up exercises  either scale or arpeggio related. Depending on your level these exercises should be played in all keys.  Its also important to practice playing tunes, and developing a repertoire of jazz bass lines to use on certain types of tunes. For example it’s a different approach to playing a ballad than playing an up tempo swinger or Bossa nova. If you have access to a keyboard or piano I would try to devote part of my practice time to that as well. Even 10 mina a day would be an hr a week. Doesn’t sound like much, but it will make a huge difference to your musicianship overall.

A  good bass teacher can help you with all these things, if you can find a good teacher in your area try to get a lesson. It will be worth the effort. Working with a teacher can help to speed up the progress, after all they’ve been through the same things as your trying to work on, have probably listened to many of the same records and probably can recommend many many more.

If you can’t find a good teacher contact me. I teach students from all over the world.