Building Bass Lines

Often as a bass player you will find yourself playing with a drummer – and if you aint got a clue on what to play i’ll give you some ideas. In the following lesson I will talk about building bass lines from common drum patterns – it’s gonna be fun!

Table of Contents

    Following the bass drum

    Listen for the bass drum in the following drum loop. It’s a one-bar phrase and a very common pattern.

    You would often as a bass player play along with the bass drum, while leaving space for the snare drum. Take a listen and a look at the following examples:

    Try to play along with the following track. Choose different notes and experiment!

    YouTube player

    Stealing Rhythms

    I’ll share my process on writing my own cool bass lines by stealing other peoples rhythms. I’ve chosen a tune called Man vs. Nature by Mathias Heise.

    YouTube player

    I’ve transcribed the initial bass-line and here are 3 bass line ideas derived him.

    Bassline 1:

    Bassline 2:

    Bassline 3:

    I encourage you to do the same. Find a tune that you like – transcribe the rhythm, fool around with it and compose your own stuff!

    Converting rhythm exercises into bass lines

    Here is my process going from rhythm to bass-line. I’ve composed this rhythm tackling some nice 16th note groupings and exploring triplets within them.

    Rhythm A:

    Bass Line A:

    I set myself limitations – use the Eb major scale – and try to be melodic and simple with the ideas.

    Try to compose your own bass line using Rhythm A – and see if you can play the one i composed.

    Rhythm B:

    Bass Line B:

    In this bass line I’ve tried to be funky. I’m exploring playing the same notes with different rhythms – and a cool diminished trick in the end.

    Try to compose your own bass line using Rhythm B – and see if you can play the one i composed.

    Building Funky and Melodic Bass Lines

    A very cool trick in order to be funky and melodic at the same time is to incorporate the 16th note off-beat.

    In the example above the bass line is started by an octave movement and then a 16th note off-beat pattern utilizing the third, 9th, fifth, seven/sixth and the second. It sounds like this

    Try to play around with this pattern on other chordprogressions.

    Another way to make funky and melodic bass lines are to a “longer downbeat”. An example could be the following:

    And you could expand on that by creative a very busy line like this: