Transcribe That Bassline

Alright, all you bass-heads stuck at home, here’s a challenge that will up your game in bass playing ability. This thread will be, someone picks a song, maybe once a month or so. The challenge will be, first, to listen to the song, pick out the bassline, (however you want, sing, hum, do it in your head, whatever works for you), then:

A. Try to transcribe this bassline. That just means, WITHOUT looking at tabs or help online, see if you can play it on your bass. Maybe through trial and error. Eventually turning to your instinct to “know” what the notes are (this will take a ton of practice, for me, anyway). Post here what you think the bassline is, to you. No wrong answer here, this is an Exercise, you may be “wrong”, but who cares, you’re getting great practice. (Beginner Friendly)

B. Post a clip of yourself playing the bassline you just transcribed. With or without the rest of the song in the background. Video or just audio, doesn’t matter. (Intermediate)

C. Now, using a drum looper, play the bassline creatively along with various drum tracks, try a Funk, or a Pop, or Shuffle, or different drumbeats. No wrongs here, just be creative. You can play the same notes or chords, but now to a different beat. Post it! (Difficult Level)

Try any of the 3, or all 3 of these for any song. This is not my idea, it is @Gio 's , so I hope he doesn’t mind me starting a thread with it!

It’s actually @eric.kiser 's idea too, here’s a reference thread with a similar theme a few months ago: (Any chance you want to throw us out the first song for this thread, @eric.kiser ?!)


I love this idea! I’ve been running into the issue of having lots of songs I want to learn that don’t have any tabs available. I have little to no experience transcribing and it is very much something I want to work on (along with ear training which obviously go hand in hand).

I well start here, because I’m pretty sure it will be simple enough to figure out, and I LOVE this song.

I will report back with progress (or lack thereof), and maybe someone with more experience can see how close I am.


So I now realize the video I posted has a few quick shots of the bass players hands which is very much cheating for this exercise… but between that and trying to figure it out, I’m pretty sure it is a simple 2 chord progression G to F, roots played on the 10th and 8th frets of the A string. Root root, down a 5th, flat 7th, root. 4/4 time. 1, 2, and 3, 4 is the main riff and it only gets stripped down and easier from there. Or I could be wrong, but it sounds close to me.


I love this! And thanks @Vik for bringing it to the forums!

So - some details on rules:

It is not cheating to find isolated bass track recordings from the version you’re trying to transcribe. Sometimes these are called stem tracks.
They can be super helpful!!
(still illegal to find isolated bass tracks if played by some YouTube bassist, because they have mistakes 99% of the time!!)

And - that Galactic song is such a killer example of what I’m talking about for this exercise, that I’m gunna use it as an example, and post up some ideas here!
Thanks for bringing that @BassFaceDisgrace.

The idea:
You get the basic recipe from the recording. You study the ingredients.
Then, because you aspire to be a true chef, you try variations on the recipe.
I use different drum groove loops, and try and play with the same chords, chord progressions, and bass line patterns that I learn in the tune.
It activates the improv/composition part of the brain while (hopefully) giving you enough of a life-preserver to save yourself from the “what do I play” panic that improv can bring.

If I can steal a minute today, I’ll post it up. But - first, gotta make the traditional ancient Portugese family recipe (shared with my Italian Grandfather) for Easter bread.
It’s an all day thing, folks.


Ok - I tried to make a video, but my upload speed right now is straight from the year 1996.
So - audio only.

I took the bassline motif from the Galactic tune linked by @BassFaceDisgrace above.

Then I played with that pattern and progression to two different grooves.

I hope that you can hear what I mean when I say that the recipe is being used in different ways with the different grooves.

Enjoy, holler with questions, and go forth and transcribe!!


Sweet, thanks @BassFaceDisgrace for getting this started with a song! Just listened to it, and, first step, I can hear the bassline, distinct from the song. (That’s always the first step for me, and not always easy, haha). It’s a great song for this exercise, I think anyone at any level can take a shot at it.

All the food talk is making me want to go cook something to eat first, lol. Will try to keep the recipe analogy going, to cook something up with the bass later, :shallow_pan_of_food:


@Gio: this sounds deceptively easy, but it sure isn’t!! Could you make this sound file downloadable, by any chance? Such that we could pull it into Transcribe!, slow it down and define loops to hear it over and over and over again?? I am getting nuts trying to do that on SoundCloud :crazy_face:



Sounds fantastic and like lots of fun @Gio, great tone, and nice variations of the line! I still need to figure out a good way to record myself and upload. I don’t have any of that fancy stuff yet.


It is downloadable! Hopefully it will be clear in Transcribe. I think I use a lot of ghost notes and the passing note (Gb/F#) in the third example.


Haha, yeah, there are some “challenges” there. The first one is doable, but then it gets tricky… :smile:

Hm, OK, I will try again… actually, I am lost… how do I do that???

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…hmm… I was hoping you knew!
maybe if you go to the soundcloud site?


Ah, OK, I figured it out: I WAS at the soundcloud page, but I was just seeing and playing the main file (“Bass Line Recipe Example”) and there, I couldn’t find a download option. Instead, you need to go the “stream” view, and then it is one of the options under the “More…” tab.

For everybody else trying to do this: if the “stream” view doesn’t help, you might have to follow “True Rockage” first…


Ok, Part A. Through just some trial and error on what note I thought it was vs. listening to it again, then moving up or down until I felt that I hit the note. Then I would try it a half step up and a half step down just to make sure I was hearing it right.

Here is some tab I came up with. :star:Spoiler :star: Don’t look at this if you want to try this on your own. Because I could be wrong! And I don’t want to influence your discovery of it :slight_smile:

All on the A String, Verse --10----10----10-9-10–10-|-10----10----10-9-10–9-|-8----8----8-7-8–8-|-8----8----8-7-8–9-, repeat
Chorus --10----10----------9-|-10----10----------9-|-8----8----------7-|-8----8----------9, repeat

Then some small variations on this in the song, but the basic structure is the same.

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@Vik There is a spoiler option. Click on the cog and it’s called Blur Spoiler. Like this…

:metal: COMPLETE ROCKAGE!!! :metal:

Click on the blur to reveal.


Nice! Better! and that cog’s also where you can build polls too! :thinking:

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Part B. The tempo’s pretty fast on this one! But here’s a clip, unedited. Would be nice to just loop the 4 bar phrase when I nail it, but, maybe I’ll take on editing later! This bassline can be played with all 4 fingers of the fretting hand. Realizing my pinky rocks now, but my ring finger is a slacker…

Here’s the song from the YT post, with the bass removed, if anyone wants to try it:


Part C. Listening to @Gio 's examples was, well, humbling. Here’s mine. I think I’m on the right track with this?? Slowed it down to 100 bpm so wouldn’t get overwhelmed. Used 3 drum tracks on my Zoom pedal: Blues2, Punk, and Funk2. Feedback on this part please!

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This is the exact idea.
Nicely done, sir!

I’m gunna post a spoiler alert with the transcription from the original bass line.
Your transcription is great for rhythm and movement - the specifics of the note placement will give you more to explore if you revisit this exercise with the line from the original.

Spoiler for transcription bits:

For my parts (and to make things more fun for myself) instead of using the open A string as the muted note to bounce off of, I used the 5th of each chord (I played C on the E string under the F, and Bb under the Eb).

Other things to think about - you can use the same notes in any octave.
It’s fun to work the bass line in different places!

Steady as she goes! Full speed ahead!



@Vik and @Gio: I am not looking at or listening to what your posted yet… I am still working on it… just not having had time enough to dive more into it…


Ah, seeing the original transcription and playing it now feels really good. I think my problem isn’t so much with finding the root notes, it’s more about finding the other notes that are played in relation to that. I seem to almost find them, but have noticed that many times, I’m a half-step off. Anyone else have this problem? Where you “almost” figure it out?

I’m guessing it just takes practice. I can see now, why we shouldn’t just trust the internet’s version of a bassline - anyone could have posted it, and who knows how good they really were with transcribing it :stuck_out_tongue: