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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Walking Bass

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The next
thing we're gonna talk about we're gonna
move right into enhancing rhythm style.
Again, we've said before,
bluegrass rhythm on the guitar is such an
important part of the music.
And it's important for anybody that plays
any of these, you know,
the lead stuff, and plays the tunes, the
single note flat picking.
I'll, you can't stress enough the
importance of solid rhythm playing.
And so, the next step we've, we've covered
the basic boom chuck strum.
And, and we've also covered chord patterns
in the last chord theory lessons we
We, you know, show why the one four and
five how, or how they exist.
How you find them.
And it's all based on the, the scale
theory of,
of naming the notes with numbers, right?
And so, the way this is gonna apply to
what we're gonna do now is enhance,
and the way we're gonna apply that,
this the number concept now is with
walking bass runs.
And, if you're not familiar with what that
is think to the and,
think to old, old time music.
Think to when you, when you see Jimmy
Martin play and he's strumming, but
he's also, you know, plays these great
notes in between the chords that,
that really push the music along.
And, that's, that's kinda, they, they're
fun to play.
Not only do they add an element of
interest to, to your own rhythm playing,
but it really does solidify the feel of
the band if you're, if you're,
if you're playing with the bass player,
mandolin player.
It's a way to, we'll start connecting
chords to a way,
a way that sort of let a listener know
what's coming up.
And walking bass, again, it comes to the,
the history of it sort of hearkens back to
the days before bands had bass players.
And, it was a way to if you listen to some
of the great Monroe Brothers recordings.
You'll hear Charlie Monroe do a lot of
these bass runs.
And, one of the key elements of, of Bill
Monroe's style as I've kind of,
I've studied a lot recently actually.
And, one of the things Bill Monroe was
adamant about
when he hired a new guitar player was that
they they could play the bass runs.
He that's one of the things he liked about
Del McCoury was that he had really good
bass runs.
And so, we're gonna, we're gonna jump
right into how those, how those work and
how you can find them for yourself.
And, I've got a few exercises.
And so, here's the basic theory behind it,
is that-
So, we're gonna be in the key of G.
And we've got a,
a song that goes next to the key of C.
So, we're gonna strum a few bars in G.
So, the next chord is C.
And so,
the next chord is the five, is the
five-chord, the D chord, then back to G
In some of the early exercises we had
here, we had those four-bar patterns that
we set up as, as things to practice.
So, a, a scale, G scale, one, two, three,
five, six, seven, and then back to one.
So, all we really need to go to is from G
to C.
So, we're strumming in G.
We wanna walk to C.
Using the G scale notes.
So, that's if you think about it in terms
of, of bars.
So, that's one.
One, two, three, four, one, two.
Three, and then three four is the walk.
One, two, three, four, one, two, three,
four, one.
And then, we wanna walk from C to D.
And, and this is one of the reasons we
covered major scales with all six strings.
You know, we can start a C major scale on
the C but we act.
I showed you how to, we, we, you know,
memorize these patterns of-
Of actually going beyond the octave and
playing, playing the C scale.
And so.
[SOUND] Picking up the C scale from the B
note at that point.
I did the D chord.
And then, we wanna go back to G.
It's the the two notes that precede the
root note G.
From the G scale.
So, that's, that's the basic theory of
all those great bluegrass rhythm players
that, that we all love all over the years.
And, that, you know, we'll, we'll get into
different ways and
there's everybody sort of brought their
own kinda personality with it.
But, it's, it's a, it's a key building
block of, of bluegrass rhythm,
is how to connect chords that way and
it's, and just simple major scale theory.
And, like I mentioned when we were talking
about the, the major scales.
That's how it applies directly to rhythm.
We're also gonna show you later how those
scale forms apply directly to playing
leads, playing fiddle tunes.
>> And it's the same kind of, same kind of
Once, once your hands can kind of as,
as we think about this solid flat pick,
flat pick technique.
That we're trying to build here.
That's that's these, these are how stuff
That's how these theories start paying off
in the,
into, in more enhanced kinda music making
and specific, specific to the style.
And, it really, you know, just, for me,
just, you know, to,
just to play the strums you know, it's one
way to do it.
And, sometimes that might be necessary.
But, as a bluegrass rhythm player it
starts, it's so
fun to do this kinda thing.
So, because it's you know.
You know,
suddenly it, it gives a character to the
song and adds you know,
adds your own little element to the style.
And adds you know, adds you can choose to
do it or choose to not.
And we'll, we'll discuss different ways to
kinda walk around in other chords.
But next, we'll jump in straight into some
different exercises that you can
practice in, in different keys.
We're gonna move now to some,
some things you can practice with this
walking bass theory, and
we've covered all the, all the whys and,
and hows and so I'm gonna show you
we covered the four bar patterns earlier
with a boom chuck strum pattern.
So in the key of G, here's what it sounds
Here's the first exercise.
You're ex, we're expanding on that
exercise, so
So now we're gonna add the walking bass.
So I'd encourage you to just go back and
forth, so one.
Walking straight up the scale.
so that, that's, that's how that works in,
in G.
So basically sort of reviewing that.
In the key of C same, same theory applies.
And this is, we're just trying to I'd like
you to really get a sense of how this
works in, in basically G, C, D, the key of
A, and the key of E.
And so the next one I'll show you here is
the key of C, and
the exercise based on the four-bar.
When you practice it you can go back and
forth, just to,
just to hear and feel the difference.
A lot of this, you know the muscle memory
that we're trying to build and, and
sort of musical memory if you will, of, of
how these things happen.
So you know, when you're playing these
songs you're not always just having to
think what is this, what is this.
You know, when you're playing a song in
the key of C you can,
you can pretty much trust your hands,
ultimately to know what to do.
So in the key of C.
The one four five,
again we're working out of three chords in
the key of C, which is C, F and G.
And so walking, just like we walk from G
to C, we'll walk from C to F.
There's your F major scale.
open D second fret E, you know this works
right to the F.
So the ex, the exercise.
you'll notice the way that F into the G
chord worked,
you actually ended on the open third
That's where, that's where that G ended up
That's, that was your destination, you
We went straight back to the root for the
boom chuck.
say you wanna, you know, here, here's
where you can sort of make a choice.
You can choose your own adventure here if
you will.
So working out of we're in the key of C.
You can also walk back into
the G that way.
So there's two different options
of how to, how to do that, and, you can
try, try both ways.
gonna move right in right on now to the
key of D.
Still maintaining our concept of,
of the basic exercises is is one four five
in the key of D.
So, that's D, G and A.
And, working out of two bars each with a
boom chuck.
So, the,
the walking bass idea.
We're going to walk into the G chord from
And, to the A.
And, you can choose.
And, it's more about as far as your
fingering of, of that kind of walk there.
It's what I, my goal for
these kind of exercises is that you really
feel more the rhythm and
let your, you know, know that the
That's, that's the walk
based on the scale.
we're gonna stay to our four fret four
finger concept.
That's the way you would do that.
We move into the key of A with with our
walking base idea, here.
It's gonna be like this.
to get to E,
from, from our D chord,.
gonna employ what's called a chromatic
And, it's mainly to keep the rhythm
And so, instead of
we're gonna connect with this,
And, we'll get,
we'll get deeper into the theory of, of
what chromatics are a little later,
but for this purpose of making this rhythm
is, is our goal here is to make rhythm
notes and rhythm strums that are as strong
as possible and
to really use these walking base strums to
help, help really define rhythm,
help define the down beats, which is
important in acoustic music.
So again, in the key of A,
All right.
then, moving on to the key of E is the
exercise works like this.
And, there's another chromatic
into, into the five chord which is B.
So, theres
your chromatic
so theres the exercise in E And, another
way to practice all this stuff, and
it works in all these keys, and it'll, you
know, again increase the,
the repertoire that you're able to play
with just these basic concepts.
Is, we talked about this earlier with the
other strum patterns and, and
exercises, is thinking about songs that
are in four four time,
four notes to the bar, or three, three
four time.
Three quarter time, waltz time, you know,
it's referred to, it's all,
all the same thing.
Three notes to the bar and you can go to
all those songs that we, that we worked
Earlier and apply this walking base
concept to that.
I'll, I'll show, quickly, like with, with
the Blue Moon in Kentucky.
Here's the rhythm part to Blue Moon in
Kentucky with walking base and
three-quarter time just to give you a
sense of what it looks and sounds like.
A one, two.
We're in that key of E so there's that
And, what you'll notice.
And, and as you practice these with real
Our, our, our exercises are even-numbered,
you know, two bars a piece for
the changes to help learn the exercises.
When you have changes that are within a
bar of each other,
a lot of times there's not time to cram a
walk in every time.
And so, one of the things were going to
work on is developing a feel of
when to use these things.
When to use the walking bass, for
when to use other voicings and ways.
It's a way to make these bigger rhythm
ideas kind of work for a song and
we'll get into that kind of stuff later,
That's usually one of the key elements
that's working there
when you have you know bars that are
chords that are connected.
And, there's, you know, you're playing
with the chord for
more then a couple bars we can walk into
the next chord.
If the chord changes are happen fairly
quickly it's one of the reasons why I
used Twinkle Little Star because all the
quick chord changes.
You know, you wouldn't wanna walk through
all that, all that.
It's, it's more important, again,
the bluegrass rhythm concept is to be as
have your notes as strong as possible.
So you know, it's,
it's when to know how to use these runs,
and when, when to know when to use them.
When to use them is, is important.
And we, we'll get into that.
You know, it's, a lot of that's a deeper
sort of musical concept.
We're, we're building framework, building
the foundation for, for
that kind of stuff here.
And, we'll keep on with it, and we'll,
we'll get into all those things later.
Now, you have an assignment.
I want you to submit a video.
We, we've covered, lots of things about
chords and,
mainly the walking based exercises, which
is sort of an expanded version of,
of the boom chuck rhythm strum exercises
that we had earlier.
So, what I, what I'd like to see, what
I'll be looking for in videos is.
How well you're able to connect chords.
So we, I showed you basically how to walk
back and forth one,
four, five in G, C, D, A, and E.
And like, see how, how your left hand, you
know, works in,
in changing those chords within, within a
pattern rhythmically, so you can do that.
Also, if you choose to, you can, one of
one of the four songs that we covered
earlier, You Are My Sunshine,
wildwood Flower Twinkle Twinkle Little
Star if you want to.
There's not a lot of walks in that one.
Or, Blue Moon of Kentucky.
You can show me how you're working on
applying those concepts to a song.
And so, either one of those two things
will work, and I,
I'll be able to give you feedback on
whether or not it sounds musical.
You know, how, how things lead, whether it
feels like the tune or not, or feels the,
the, or the exercises is executed as
strong as it can be.