How to start writing basslines?

Hi everyone!
For the ones who started from the B2B course and are now composing basslines, could you please give some tips on how you started?
Everything could be helpful, either course that you did or steps you took, what helped you the most to improve etc.
I really would like to learn, have finished B2B and I’m doing the Chords course of TB, but I’m not sure it there are better ways to reach my goal.

Thank you a lot!



Maybe looking into walking bass lines would be a good next step? Not the most exciting kind of bass lines, but it’s a good starting point, because it teaches you how to go smoothly from one chord to the next. Learn some of the most commonly used chord changes, come up with some walking bass lines for them, and then you can just piece them together like lego bricks in your songs.

I used this book, but there’s lots of others as well:


I would suggest to find some of these playalong tracks, where there is a chord sequence and a drum track, and then start to play along, i.e., coming up with bass lines that you feel could go with that particular groove and with the given harmonies.

For instance, this one:

There is a ton more, faster, slower, different “styles”, …

Have fun!


Hi @angela.r

My approach comes from learning songs: have sections that have a distinct feel. For example, a steady rhythm for a verse, faster stuff for the chorus, solo-y stuff for a break/bridge. Then have a four or five part song. Add lyrics or jam over them.

You’ll find that you can start anywhere and then simply go up or down on the fretboard. While you can use theory (like a chord progression), you can also just jam and then take notes or record the parts.

Jamming brings you to the limit of your music know-how. If you get bored or frustrated, it’s a sign to take a break and perhaps think through what you have. And if you have a writing partner, you can just send a track to them and they will transform it.

Have some fun!

PS: If you get bored with parts, you can add fills like in the Scales video by Josh.


thought this was very insightful:


The best way to do this is to find other people who are writing songs and need some basslines. Hopefully they’re at a similar place in their musical journey so you’ll align with expectations and abilities.
There’s nothing like the neccessity of needing to play/record/perform a song that forces you to make a bass line!

If you’re doing it outside of a band / original music standpoint, then I’d reiterate @akos’s suggestion to look into walking bass lines - the concepts there work for all music everywhere.
However… if you’re not a fan of jazz or don’t listen to it, this can be a terrible and confusing place to be.

I love @joergkutter 's suggestion of playing to backing tracks that provide chord progressions. It creates a simulation of the original music scenario that can be really satisfying and rewarding.

I think it’s important to remember that, just like in language, writing a bass line has nothing to do with coming up with something original. It is functional. Your job is to play the root of the chord on the downbeat, and change chords when the song changes chords. There are an infinite way this can be done, but learning the blues patterns (that @akos references in their suggestion with the walking lines above) and the common rhythm patterns for pop music will get you through most bass-creation scenarios.

Best of luck and I hope you enjoy the process.


Great advice, Gio. :+1:

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My best advice would be to just learn as many songs as you possibly can.

If you’re listening to a pro recording, you’re listening to a pro bass player. Copy exactly what they do! It’s the blueprint for how a solid line is written.

When it comes time to write a line, try to incorporate elements of what you’ve learned.


This…. What @Justyn says…. I’ve also found (for me), understanding the Nashville Number System has allowed me to jump into playing songs with groups that I’ve not played with before - comes in handy when I join in on open mic nights to play…. Another thing that helps are lead sheets that provide a solid road map of any song - you’ll at least have chord progressions to start with giving you root notes to build from. That along with learning different styles of play will help create unique fills that can build a unique sound and style that you can call your own. To me, this is what makes playing bass so unique and special because by simply changing a bass line, you can actually manipulate a song and give it a different essence altogether…. Such a cool instrument we all play!!:grin::grin:

There was a time a few years back that we had a thread where an empty drum track would be posted to the forum, and anyone could just create and add their own bass line to it. Was kinda cool to hear the different interpretations that people would come up with…. Great way to be creative…

Keep On Thumpin’!

I haven’t done much, but I did find that when I went back through the play along videos in B2B, that I started to experiment and add to what Josh was playing. After a while I just started adding or changing notes and had a great time.

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Good on ya!
Welcome to the world of improv :+1: :+1: :+1:


Not that anything I have come up with on my own is particularly complex or difficult but when I was first starting out I would focus on learning different songs. I would pay particular attention to the rhythm and specific notes I was playing, then when I found a song I really liked, I would just mess around with the same notes but try to arrange them in a different order and to a slightly different beat.

I found the hardest part of creating something was finding a note progression that worked together so stealing someone else’s song and reworking it was the easiest place for me to start.

Now I just come up with grooves in my head and then try to transcribe it onto the fret board one note at a time, tabbing it out as I go, then once I figure out what notes fit my groove I play it repeatedly until I don’t have to think about it :man_shrugging:t2:

Would highly recommend Paul Wolfe’s books, which focuses on

  • learning the patterns of bass-line vocabulary that are used over and over again (he calls them devices)
  • combining and connecting these pieces of vocabulary to create fresh bass lines

As others have suggested, transcribing/learning/studying bass lines from songs will help you accomplish this. But Paul Wolfe’s books provide the roadmap and the express lane to figuring it out. His Creating Walking Bass Lines book applies his devices method to Ed Friedland’s classic walking bass book. It would be a good place to start.


Since you mention Paul Wolfe, and this topic is How to Start Writing Basslines:
I’ve been getting occasional emails from Paul Wolfe since I bought one of his books and registered to get access to the online materials for it.

Recently, he sent out emails about “Create Your Own Basslines.” This was all leading up to today’s email about a new 80-20 Device Method course of his.

Sooooo - the point being, I don’t have the knowledge or time to figure out if his Create Your Own Basslines pages are relevant to this thread, but you can all judge for yourselves:
The Three Things A Bass Line Has To Do | How To Play Bass (first page of four).

He goes through what he calls Approach Notes, then Devices as musical units, then finishes up on page four with rhythmic execution of devices. All above my grade level currently, but perhaps useful for writing basslines. At least it might be food for thought.

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