Bass fills

Thanks to B2B I am able to play and contribute in a band and can usually find something online regarding the songs I am given, but I have run across a song that I can’t find anything on. It has several fills throughout the verses and the chorus that I can’t figure out. The point is not really to play it note for note (because we’ll change it or the drummer won’t play it the same way twice), but I want to be able to have some fills at the ready to throw in. The question is if there are popular/go to bass fills that can be used in most rock-type songs?

For example, there is a fill from C to G and I came up with the following - ending on the 5th of G.


Am I in the ballpark or are there ‘standard’ fills that are used?


This is a glorious question.
First off - your tab for the fill you wrote looks pretty ideal. It’s a perfect major pentatonic fill, and I bet it does the job very well.

As far as ‘standard’ fills - there are some classic moves, but it is really dependent on genre.
The two I immediately think of (from my heavy young listening) is the fill in Tommy The Cat (Primus) and the fill in When I Come Around (Green Day). Both of those are full band breaks, bass fill moments that bring the whole song back in a kickass way.

For things that are more subtle and fit into the fabric of the songs better, I recommend going to the source material (or at least the bands and players of the genre you’re in) and transcribing a ton.

@JoshFossgreen is a bonafide transcription master, so he may have more specific ideas here, or at least examples to point to… But I know that my fill vocabulary has been expanded mostly through learning cool parts in other people’s songs.

Hope that helps!


Music to my ears! That’s awesome @toddyork.

I agree with everything @Gio said (as usual), the best thing to do is to steal other people’s fills, and then explore variations. It’s fun to spend time on multiple songs/albums of the same bass player rather than only jumping around too.

Meaning, if you learn one Iron Maiden tune, that’s cool, but if you learn a bunch (or parts from a bunch, at least), then you start to get a feel for how Steve Harris would approach something, and you can think WWSHD (what would Steve Harris do?) when coming up with a fill.

Do that enough times, and you can switch the WW___D slot in for Steve Harris, Jaco, James Jamerson, Victor Wooten, Bootsy, or whoever else’s playing you love. And the mix of all the things you love makes you sound like you!

Also, for super basic pentatonic-y fills, I would check out some Geezer Butler, there’s a ton of juice being juiced out of that scale in Black Sabbath.


Pretty awesome playing in a band, after going through B2B, congrats!

One terrific resource I’ve found for improving pentatonic-y stuff is a vintage Josh series on his personal channel, called “Fix your Pentatonics”. It’s a 5 part video series, with tons of ideas. Game changer stuff, I’m still working my way through it, here’s the first video in the series:


Josh to the rescue again, thanks