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 Fun 12-Bar Bass Line 
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 1:33 pm
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Location: Cary, NC
Post Fun 12-Bar Bass Line
I have attached PDF of an exercise arrangement that I have conjured up.

The bass line was taught to me years ago on bass by my advisor/ instructor George Lopez of Los Angeles' Musicians' Institute. I have always like this line so I have adapted it here for Stick (baritone melody / standard bass). George said it was a good "all purpose" 12-bar line you could whip out whenever you needed something that sounded both bluesy and jazzy. I always liked the chromatic runs and the fact that once you got this under your belt and could play it at speed, it made you sound like a hotter player than you actually might be. :P

George challenged us to come up with as many turnaround variations as we could for the last 2 bars....I've transcribed my fave....it's nothing fancy, but gets you back to the top in a walking bass jazz style.

I generated this in part as an exercise to get my left hand to move instead of it being frozen in one spot. (Greg H. probably remembers how constipated my left hand was from the 2004 seminar....). I have tried to transcribe the finger choices here for smooth movement and good power. You will have to use your pinky, though.

Now while George wrote the bass line, I have generated the chords to go over the top. These are rootless diatonic 7th chords all played on the middle three strings if you're on a ten string instrument. I made these diatonic, but if you want an even bluesier sound, you can try substituting dominant 7th chords for some of the major 7th chords (or others) if you like.

I will admit, I approached this as an "academic" exercise so the right-hand chords leave a lot to be desired in terms of voice leading etc. and may sound wretched. Some, like the D7 / V chord at frets 8, 10, 12 are knuckle-busters. Also, if you play this literally as written (especially in the right hand), it is likely to sound pretty dry and stiff. Feel free to experiment with different chord voicings and with different rhythmic feels, syncopations, etc.

Hope you enjoy and don't find too many errors in my work. Try not to point and laugh. :D

Update: Scroll down and I have posted a more correct version in PDF and JPEG format. The PDF was sort of large (930 KB) and was likely causing some folks download issues due to size or other PDF / Adobe compatibility problems.


Last edited by March Hare on Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:43 am
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Location: Cary, NC
Post Re: Fun 12-Bar Bass Line
OK I have already found an error in what I posted:

To be harmonically correct, the next to last chord In the piece could be an F sharp half diminished chord ( F sharp minor 7 flat 5), not F major 7, because the F sharp half dim would be the vii chord of G major. But is also works because the A C E are the root, third, and fifth of a A minor chord which could function as the ii leading into the V of the D7 to get you back to I ( G Major). The old ii V I strikes again. So the strongest harmonic function is probably as the ii ( A minor).

It still works as written because the top 3 notes of an F major 7 are the same as the top 3 notes of an F sharp half diminished and, as noted above, it also works as the ii (A minor) so you dont have to change the notes you play .....just change the chord symbol note above the staff.......

One of the alternate turnarounds is to play G G C C F F D D in the bass the last two bars so you can try that instead of the descending turnaround currently written and see how it works against the right hand chords. It works for a change of pace and is one reason I wrote in an F chord ( instead on an A minor chord) leading into the D7 in he last bar.

I am sure there are other corrections and improvements that could be made elsewhere as well.

Happy tapping!


Last edited by March Hare on Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:51 pm
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Location: Azle, Texas
Post Re: Fun 12-Bar Bass Line
Thank you for posting - now I got more homework!!


Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:53 pm
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Post Re: Fun 12-Bar Bass Line
Just found another transcription error I made: in bar 7, the two Gs in the bass line should be played on fret 5, not fret 7 as currently indicated. The notes are correct, but the "tablature" style notation is not.

At some point, I will correct and repost. My apologies.

If any of y'all enjoy this sort of stuff, let me know. I have some other planned transcriptions in this vein in the works.....


Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:20 pm
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Post Re: Fun 12-Bar Bass Line
I cannot view it. I've tried many times


Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:55 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 1:33 pm
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Post Re: Fun 12-Bar Bass Line
OK I have made the correction in bar 7 noted above. I have also created both a PDF version and JPEG version so hopefully at least one of those will work for those who are interested. The JPEG is smaller file size (300 KB vs 940 KB for the PDF) and so may be easier to download and view.


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Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:51 am
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