Playing the Blues

There are some threads on Blues already in the forum, but most seem to be only about specific aspects (unless I missed out on something). So I’ll try to put together information available on the forum as well as share some interesting channels I have come across :nerd_face:

First of all, there are of course some specific notions taught in the Beginner to Badass modules that are an absolute must know: Nashville numbers, shuffles, blues scale…
These can be found by going through modules 8 to 13.

Then, there are the BassBuzz YouTube videos dedicated to the subject:
Beginner Blues Bass "Survival Shapes” (Simple Method for 12 Bar Blues) and 7 Easy Blues Bass Line Formulas (The Blues Box).

There are threads that already provide some useful information and resources as well:
Blues Scale
Excellent 12-Bar Blues Examples
The Blues!

There are certainly a lot of excellent courses available for Blues bass, but I’ll limit myself to freely available resources I came across and consider worth it having a closer look at. They all offer paying courses as well.

Here are some YouTube channels I came across, most being probably well-known by this community:

I chose deliberately not to post individual videos as this would just take to much time and everyone will not be looking for the same information anyway. Just go and browse through the channels :wink:

I will gladly update this list based on other recommendations :slightly_smiling_face:


And here’s a link dump for cross-referencing other related threads:


If you learn this you’re ready to jam the blues. That and train your ear.

I don’t think the blues scale is all that important. I say that from trying to learn Boom Boom Boom. Every version I listened to, the key changed. I think old John Lee didn’t use a tuner and tuned by ear. So the key would shift from Eb to D.

I would play along and it sounded off, until I figured out toss the tabs and listen to what John was playing. So by knowing the shapes (the survival shapes and Blues Box from the handy box Josh gave us) I was able to adjust.

Also every time John switched bassists he got a new bassline. Every bassist was doing his on spin on the shapes.

When I get my cover ready, you’ll hear my own spin on the shapes. Cause that’s the blues. But if you follow those two lessons from Josh, you’re ready to jam along.


I totally agree that those two videos give enough information to participate in a blues jam. The Blues Box certainly does provide for a nice mix and match formula that can be adapted depending on the rhythm and general feel of a specific song.
There are however some elements that I think can spice it up a bit like walking up to a note and most importantly getting the ending right :sweat_smile:
That’s the kind of information I try to find and going through videos helps me understand and visualize those elements faster than trying to listen and emulate things by myself :slightly_smiling_face:

There are ways to spice it up. Listen to Killing Floor by Howlin Wolf and Hound Dog. Basically the same bass line in different keys, a 1-3-5 box. But Killing Floor does a chromatic ascent between 3 and 5 and throws in a triplet. Still 1-3-5 as the base.

Also play with sharps and flats. Green Onion is a good example. 1-1-2#-4. When I play Hound Dog I like to throw in a sharp of the root on the last eighth note of the turnaround.

Walking I haven’t figured out yet, but listening to Jamerson on Boom Boom sounds like he in the blues box. Just the order of the notes is different. I haven’t charted the notes to make sure though.

I actually learn a lot by watching how to play a song on guitar videos. Makes my understanding of the bass line better.


I purchased Ryan’s course at Tru3fire …pretty good so far


1-3-5-6-7-6-5-3. is also good

1 Like

Good luck charting Jamerson! Jack Stratton from Vulfpeck is so fascinated by Jamerson’s lines that he’s built a visualizer for some of them. Here’s a good one, although not the blues - sorry for going off topic -but this is just mesmerizing to watch:

1 Like

Those visualization are really interesting. When I first saw one of those, I couldn’t make much of it. It seems like I am able to get some useful information out of them now :slightly_smiling_face:

Her courses really help you nail finger technique, timing and such. Worth every penny. I enjoyed her Bass Foundations course

1 Like

Sometimes the accompanying tab/notation is a little off. But I like it overall.