Walking Bass Improvisation For Beginners

In this lesson, I’ll show you how easy it is to get started with walking bass.

This is my cheating guide that you can use to finally get walkin’ just like the jazz bass cats.

Improvisation, I know, a big word to put in the same sentence with a “beginner”.

But, you see – things are not always like they seem.

I remember when I was a beginner bass player dying hair in red for the shows (played RHCP back then), I thought that walking bass is difficult. That you must be a theory wizard to be able to pull it off. That you need to have an amazing ear to be able to improvise like that. Oh, boy was I wrong.

So I’m sitting now at 1 AM writing this post while listening to Village Life by Incognito on Spotify,  to end all the excuses you’ve ever had for not learning how to play walking bass and to help you finally get into it, for real.

Before we get started, make sure you grab a handy FREE PDF and Backing Tracks package that you can download on your computer and use for practice: click here to get it.

‏‏‎ ‎

How To Get Started With Walking Bass Improvisation

Improvisation on bass is not that mystic you know. It’s ok if you think so, because pretty much everyone does at one point in their bass playing carrier.

There are actually some rules and specific strategies you can apply.

Take for example walking bass, I mean do you think those are barrages of random notes that come from musician’s inner dimension due to years of experience and artistic development?

Nope, it’s much simpler than that.

A great bassist playing a walking bass line knows exactly what he’s doing.

He know which notes to play, when and where. It’s like having a map.

Obviously you first need to learn words in a language to be able to put together sentences.

This means that there are some building blocks included, but apart from that – it’s more of a strategy than anything else.

4 Steps To Beginner Walking Bass Lines Creation

OMG – is it that simple? Just 4 steps.

What can I say, it kinda is. So let’s dig into it right away.


Step 1: Root Notes Walking

In this step I want you to focus on memorizing the above bass line.

The goal is to learn the chord progression, where chord changes happen and everything. To get the walking feel, play the famous 4 jazz walking bass rhythm by plucking straight quarter notes.

This means 4 notes per bar of music that you need to play and that’s it. Nothing more or less at this point.

Strategy for this step:

  • Write down the chord progression
  • Find root note for each chord
  • Play 4 quarter notes per 1 bar
  • Play only root note of each chord

Backing track for practice is included in the free lesson resources package.

‏‏‎ ‎


Step 2: Approach Note From Below

Check this out.

You’re playing the exact same line, but this time around I want you to play a note that is half-step below the root note of the chord that follows.

In case of repeated chord for several bars, just play the note half step below on beat 4 and go back to the root note.

Formula looks like this:

R – R – R – ½ below | R – R – R – ½ below….

R – root note

½ below – note half step below next root note

Strategy for this step:

  • Play root notes following chords in the backing track
  • Add approach note half step below the next root note, on a beat before every chord change or new bar

Backing track for practice is included in the free lesson resources package.

‏‏‎ ‎


Step 3: Approach Note From Above

This step is exactly the same as the one you’ve done previously, but this time you play the approach note that is a half step above the next root note.

Like before, if you have one chord for several bars, just move half step above the root on beat 4, and then go back half step down to playing the root note of that chord. This adds a bit of movement to the line.

Formula looks like this:

R – R – R – ½ above | R – R – R – ½ above….

R – root note

½ above – note half step above next root note

Strategy for this step:

  • Play root notes following chords in the backing track
  • Add approach note half step above the next root note, on a beat before every chord change or new bar

Backing track for practice is included in the free lesson resources package.

‏‏‎ ‎

Step 4: Improvise

In this step, you’re going to mix it all up.

Play approach notes from above or below (or even just roots like in step 1) to compose your own walking bass line.

This just means mixing up concepts you’ve learned in the previous 3 steps, nothing more.

Now, I know that the line doesn’t at this point might not sound like walking you’ve imagined but check this out.

If there are 2 chords per 1 bar of music, your bass line starts to sound like real walking bass all of sudden. So you can walk after all…

Strategy for situation when there are two chords per one bar of music is this formula:

R – A – R – A

R – root

A – approach note half step below or above next root note

Try it on your own now.

Fire up the backing track and start improvising your first walking bass lines.

What’s cool is that you only need to know which chords are played in the progression to be able to improvise your own beginner walking bass lines over the track. Awesome, right?

Backing track for practice is included in the free lesson resources package.

‏‏‎ ‎

Truth is that bass players spend more time reading charts than actual notes.

Your job is to become a master of outlining chords.

You NEED to know which chords are being played by the band to be able to do your job. I want you to remember this and always be curious when jamming with a band or playing over a backing track downloaded from the internet.

Ask your guitarist which chords he’s playing, exactly. Because you need to know.

The more you start digging into this chords oriented mindset the faster you’ll make progress as a bass improviser.

These are just fancy words for being able to jam cool bass grooves and spice them up with fills and such.

Handy Resources For Download

To help you follow the strategies I’ve covered in this lesson, I’ve created a handy free package that includes PDF that summarizes everything in this lesson PLUS you get practice backing tracks so that you can play them on your computer or living room audio system and improvise over.


‏‏‎ ‎

Learn Walking Bass

If you’d like to get access to a structured, step-by-step online program for learning walking bass, I suggest that you enroll in my Walking Bass Fundamentals course.

That’s an exceptional course that I’ve made for beginners, which will take you from zero to being able to confidently improvise walking bass lines, right there on the spot!

Go here to get more information and enroll>>

Suggested Bass Courses


Walking Bass Fundamentals

Learn to create walking bass lines using chord tones and easy strategies all bass pros know about.


Walking Bass – Quick Start Guide

Learn to improvise effective walking bass guitar lines on your own using a simple strategy.

If you enjoy practicing bass, check out online bass courses inside the Bass Road Academy.

Hope this lesson will help you get started with Walking Bass and that you’ll unlock the fretboard this way.

Share this post with a bassist who you think would benefit.

Keep grooving,


Founder, BassRoad.net

Want to get better at playing bass and make steady progress?

Level up your bass skills with online bass courses and lesson series at Bass Road Academy. 

Learn why behind the bass lines you play, have a strategy when improvising and make progress faster.