How to Play Blues Bass (in 5 Levels)

Wanna get started with blues bass? These stupidly simple exercises will take you from basic fundamentals to off-the-cuff improv mastery.

Beginner Blues v1.2 - Edited

If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, this lesson would fit starting in Module 10, where we initially cover the shuffle and have played some 12 bar blues.

What level do you feel comfortable at in your current blues bass noodling?


I should really dive into blues more tbh, the pride and joy lesson i found pretty fun.


Not comfortable enough! :wink:


Thanks for the Gary Hoey info. I am a big Gary Hoey fan.


In the video you got to walking up out of scale, and I went to Killing Floor in my head, and then you showed it in the video. Too funny.

Thank there’s Jimi’s version of Killing Floor, with them fancy blues shapes, and a touch of them level 5 stuff thrown into the return.

My mastery was doing good until my injury :frowning: it will come back

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Blues has been my lifelong, touchstone jam. @JoshFossgreen had a few clips of Tommy Shannon playing at Antone’s, Austin’s outstanding and revered blues joint founded lovingly by Clifford Antone, may he rest in peace. I’ve seen a ton of blues legends play there over the decades from Stevie to Albert Collins to James Cotton to Lightning Hopkins to Muddy Waters, and a whole lot more.

I’ve watched Tommy Shannon groove in his laid-back Austin way so many times. Just a pleasure to see and hear how easily he laid down the low end as Stevie scorched the fucking room. I continue to mourn the loss of what we all here thought would last forever.

The blues is the fountainhead for American music. When I noodle, it’s blues, whether I’m playing jazz or walking bass lines, I always come back to the source.

I mentioned in another thread that I saw Devo in their prime. They played here at the famous Armadillo World Headquarters. Their usual fare wasn’t my jam at all, but a buddy bought me a ticket, so I went. After playing three encores, the crowd wanted more. So after several minutes, the guys came onstage again, but this time without the goofy uniforms and plastic hats: just jeans and t-shirts. They plugged in and played the living hell out of a long blues jam. It/they were outstanding. They knew, and very obviously loved, the blues. Just goes to show.


To me, the Blues is the starting point for other musical genres (hard rock, metal…) and a music that I first started to listen to in my teens. Logically, I got back to playng it on bass as well :blush:

Where would I see my level of proficiency in it? It should be elvel 5, but I’d say more of 4. Main issue is speed and not going to jams because I’m not all that eager to spend three hours of my evenings on weekdays to play two songs.

I do however spend quite some time learning and playing classic blues songs. Maybe I should try and show up on jams again, if only to measure my progress :sweat_smile:

To me the blues is the language of modern music. Whether it’s the Beatles or Stones or Megadeth, there’s a foundation of the blues in it.

I remember going to the Palladium in NY once to see Chuck Berry, who was sick and couldn’t come out. in his place Ronnie Wood of the Stones took the stage and played an impromptu blues set. Great show and amazing to see how skilled a guitarist Ronnie is (which you don’t see in the Stones).

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Here’s a great example of blues. Mick and Keith just popping on stage and joining with Muddy Waters. If you have the formula you can play.

Rolling Stones, the name, comes from a Muddy Waters song


Blues is original American music. Since its creation, there have been many genres and sub-genres that have emerged from blues roots.

This post does a great job of defining the origins of the blues and listing its derivative forms of music.

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I think it was a Bob Dylan song, wasn’t it?

No, a Muddy Waters song, Mannish Boy. They were The Rolling Stones before Dylan released his.

Here they are singing it with Muddy Waters. When the Stones formed they were a blues band, and Muddy Waters was one of the artists they would cover

This is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page on the Stones. It explains how their name came about, and, yes, before Dylan wrote his song.

According to Richards, (Brian) Jones named the band during a phone call to Jazz News . When asked by a journalist for the band’s name, Jones saw a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor; one of the tracks was “Rollin’ Stone”. Jones was the band’s “uncontested leader” during its early years and a key to the band’s early success.

Brian and Keith were the Stones’ dyed-in-the-wool Blues aficionados.