Organ Bass Lines – Learn Jazz Organ Part 4 (Jazz Organ Project 61/250)

Here are a few rules for constructing strong logical walking bass lines that you will play with your left hand.

First, a few Hammond organ basics:

1. Your left hand will play bass on the lower manual (keyboard) of the organ. Use a bassy drawbar setting such as 808000000 or 848000000. Sometimes if I need to cut through a little more I’ll go with something a little fuller sounding such as 8484000000.
2. Leave a little space between each note. This will make the bass line sound more crisp and articulate, and help drive the rhythm section like a double bass would.
3. If you have pedals, set their drawbars to 80 and tap a staccato B (middle of the pedal board) on each quarter note. The tap should be short enough that you hear a woody ‘thud’ but you won’t hear the actual tone of the note. This will give you a nice attack at the beginning of each bass note you play with your left hand.

Very basic rules for constructing a bass line:
1. Be very familiar with your scales and arpeggios. Piano method books are a good place to start.
2. Play the root of the chord at the beginning of each chord change.
3. Use a combination of notes from the scale, arpeggio, and chromatic leading tones to get to the next root note.
4. Make sure that this line is simple and clear.
5. Find a bass line that is easy for you to play, and play it many times until it becomes second nature. Only then will you be ready to add chords or melody.
6. Nobody is going to give you a trophy for bass line creativity. If the bass line is good, it’s fine to use it over and over.
7. Listen to jazz bass players such as Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, or Ray Brown for good bass line ideas.

Your bass line lets everyone know where they are in the form of a song. A good bass line will also fix or prevent many problems on the bandstand, so pay attention to your bass line and play strong.a

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