Walking Guitar - James Stelling

Harmonising Common Bass Lines

If you're anything like me, when you have played with (or have listened to) pianists you might have noticed that they play a lot of 'extra' chords aside from the basic changes of the tune you're both playing. These 'extra' chords will often be harmonising the bass line (especially in a jazz or blues setting).

For some reason us guitarists are never taught what these chords are. Or at least I was never taught during my studies and neither were other guitarists that I know. 

If we look at the first two bars of a 'quick change' 12 bar blues progression in the key of G, the first bar is G7, the second bar is C7 and the third bar is back to G7 again. So I would play G7 (or maybe G9 or G13) for a bar, then C7 and back to G7. Meanwhile the bassist would play the notes (one per quarter note) G, A, Bb, B - C, Bb, A, Ab - G whilst the pianist played all these fancy chords that sounded excellent, I didn't know what they were and the pianists never seemed to have a system that they were using that they could teach me so I could go away and learn this shit for myself.

Well now Daniel and I have worked out what these chords are and have developed our own system and rules for how these chords work and how to use them. We call this 'Walking Guitar'.

So this weeks blog entry shows you how to harmonise a walking bass line that is frequently played over the first 2 bars of a quick change 12 bar blues (as discussed above).

These examples use some of 3 note voicings from our lesson on '3 Note Voicings ' that are excellent for smooth voice leading and that mimic what pianists are often playing.

If you have bought our lesson on '3 Note Voicings' try playing the examples below starting on the 5th and also the 4th strings.

G7 (I7) - C7 (IV7)

C7 (IV7) TO G7 (I7)

Check back next week for more 'Walking Guitar' tricks and tips.

Please leave any questions in the comments section and we will answer them.