This is a public version of the members-only Blues Guitar with Keith Wyatt, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Blues Guitar with Keith Wyatt.
Join Now

Beyond Classic Blues
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Blues Guitar Lessons: Bass Riffs

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Quizzes
information below Close
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +




+Beyond Classic Blues

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Blues Guitar

This video lesson is available only to members of
Blues Guitar with Keith Wyatt.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Blues Guitar with Keith Wyatt. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Blues Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
Now, we've worked that boogie shuffle
pattern and
all its variety to death for a minute.
So let's turn to a different
approach to playing bottom rhythms,
in a shuffle rhythm section.
We know what the walking line is and the
walking line's a very common bass pattern.
It's the old school pattern that goes
back to the boogie woogie days when
piano ruled the rhythm section.
But, there was a technological
change that happened in the 50's.
As much as electric guitar changed
the sound and the style of guitar playing,
hugely, electric bass had the same
impact on the rhythm section.
And it really changed
the sound of popular music.
It was profound.
When it first came in, Leo Fender
invented the P-Bass, the precision bass.
It was called precision
because it had frets on it,
so instead of the upright
base which had no frets.
You really had to be really skilled to
play that think in tune and get around.
Plus it was huge.
It was hard to carry you know.
The P base was more like a guitar.
it was a bass guitar, and
because it had frets,
you could play it in tune, and
guitar players could play it.
And a lot of them did,
because they say, man,
there's a lot of guitar players out here
but there aren't that many bass players.
Still true today.
So it took an opportunity.
Now, one of the results
was you had this more
guitaristic approach
to playing bass lines.
So instead of the walking pattern,
with its acoustic roots, it's piano style
acoustic bass and so on,
You had guys starting to play more like.
when you play that sort of
a lick with the guitar and
the bass playing in unison,
it creates a huge sound.
And that was one of the things that lead
directly, in a period of just a few years,
To the sound of blues rock and
ultimately to metal.
It was that blending of the bottom
end of the rhythm section and
creating this huge octave and
roots and fifths based on
the power chords that really changed
the sound of music altogether.
So, let's look at some typical bass riffs
because even on classic blues records,
which they weren't going rock yet, but
they were playing with an electric bass.
There are lots of examples of bass riffs,
and in an arrangement,
when you hear a bass player
playing a cool riff,
often one of the best things you can do as
a rhythm player is just double that up.
Pick up on that riff and play it together.
and it creates a really
strong sound in the bass.
Now, there's nothing really
magical about the concept
as opposed to a lot of the phrases that we
use in Blues that are two bars in length.
The typical bass riff is a one bar phrase,
and it just repeats in tact all
the way through the changes.
All you do is shift the root
to the new chord and so forth.
So for example, what I just played there.
It's a very convenient box pattern.
It's easy to finger on the guitar or
the bass.
I'm playing, the root, the octave,
the seventh, and the fifth.
And I play with that shuffle feel.
Now taking that pattern,
I can alter the order
of the notes like this.
That becomes another song,
in effect, you know?
As simple as it is, or,
Adding a pull off on the top of
the phrase.
>> Or reverse that one.
>> [MUSIC]
>> And so on.
How about, here's one that actually led
to what some people have called the first
rock and roll record.
>> [MUSIC]
>> Rocket 88,
it was played in E flat,
actually, but in E.
>> [MUSIC]
>> Right,
that was a pretty rocking
little number right there.
That's more like a walking line, but
it's a one bar repeating phrase.
Minor third, major third, sixth, fifth.
>> [MUSIC]
All right,
you can play that in any key you like.
Just by shifting it around.
Or you've got something like.
And so
on, right?
That's just adding a little
bit of syncopation.
Otherwise it's based on
the same raw materials.
Lots of examples there.
I'm sure you're familiar with some
yourself, and when you listen to blues
records or blues rock records, you hear
those patterns used all over the place.
>> Now, one little example of how
you can adapt those patterns or
expand on those patterns, other than just
picking them, like I'm doing right here.
Which sounds cool, but if you're playing
in a band where you need to fill out
the guitar part a little bit more.
You can incorporate the slapping
technique that we looked at earlier
in some of the examples.
The idea here is, again, same concept,
you're isolating the strings around
the one note that you really want to hear.
Let's say, for example,
I'm going to play this.
Let's see,
let me think of a different pattern here.
All right that
might sound familiar.
That's similar to
Stevie Ray Vaughn's song Cold Shot.
Now what that is is a very
simple base pattern
but what he does is he slaps the strings.
In other words he plays that low note, now
I play it with my thumb, just cuz it's so
I'm hanging up there already, right?
But you can use your index finger
And when I finger the note, I let the rest
of my finger lay across the strings, so
I can slap those strings hard.
[SOUND] And all you hear is one note.
Same thing applies to the next note,
which is E on the fifth string,
at the seventh fret.
[SOUND] Slap it.
Now when I cross over to
the fourth string my index finger.
I'll let the tip of my finger
meet the fifth string.
My thumb meets the sixth string.
The side of my index finger
meets the high strings.
[SOUND] And then I play.
That A note there,
the side of my third finger,
the tip rather meets the fifth string,
thumb on the sixth string,
side of the finger on the higher strings,
so I get this.
Now when I
move it around, and
play on the different
chord changes,
I can stay in position.
Or I can go up the neck.
That's a judgement call and
there's no right answer to that,
which is best.
It's sort of how quick can you get there?
How does it sound when you're all
plugged in, and you've got your amp, and
the tone that you're getting and so forth.
So either position is fine.
The same technique applies either way.
So I'm not gonna make
a recommendation there.
But, another little
ingredient that you can add,
which I did there for
a second is this
Right, that's the third finger laying
across the, mainly the third and
the second string, first finger and
then coming back on the root.
And again, I'm slapping, so
even when I'm playing two notes,
I'm muting everything else.
>> And I can, again,
drag that pick across the strings.
This is just a technique that
you hear all over the place.
For these kinds of big, powerful,
aggressive shuffle rhythms.
All right, let's put that
to work with the rhythm section.
We'll play a boogie shuffle type of feel,
and use that bass riff on it,
and see what it sounds like when
we play together with the bass,
which is playing the same pattern.
Okay, here we go.
Now, I threw a couple of extra
little bells and whistles in there,
basically playing the riff.
And that fill, that's the essence
of the pattern going to the four chord.
I stayed in position so
that when I went back to the one chord,
I could play the four
without sort of having to shove my hand
into position there.
And then setting up the five chord.
I switched from the bass pattern to
the chord itself, the F nine into E nine.
It just creates a little bit
different texture there.
So I'm kind of again
creating a guitar part that
sounds like two guitars playing at once.
One guy's playing the bass riff and
one guy's playing the chord
little fills and so on.
And it just makes the whole
thing sound kind of monumental.
The second chorus, I
use my little fill there which I
stole from the Chicago Blues sound.
The ninth chord setting up the four chord,
and so on.
And then when it came down to the ending,
or maybe it was start.
Just use your standard blues ending.
Nothing fancy about it.
So, there's an example of taking a simple
which you can play kind of small and
compact and tight,
which might be the way you want to play it
when the band plays softer, and
maybe the singer's singing.
And then you bring it back up and
really kick it when the energy comes up.
So lots of dynamic range based on how
you attack it in the right hand and
how you also compensate for all that
extra energy in your fretting hand.
So, mess around with that one.
I'd like to hear how you do that yourself.
That's a tricky part to get
to settle down and feel good.
And a lot of people like
that kind of rhythm.
So I'd like to hear how
you're approaching it, and
maybe I can give you some tips on that.
Okay, see you next time.