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Alternating Bass and Country Blues I

Jim Burger (4613) · [archive]
Style: Acoustic/Folk · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

There are several key aspects involved in learning to play country blues style songs that use an alternating bass line. These are aspects that you will need to know for any such song that you are interested in learning to play, and which you will need to create for any song that you are looking to arrange/compose.

The key aspects that we will talk about in this lesson, using the example of my arrangement of "Things About Comin' My Way" (below), are:

1. Chord fingerings: where to hold your fretting hand when you play
2. Bass line: what to do with your thumb
3. Melody: what to do with your picking fingers

You will need to learn these in order to actually be able to play any alternating bass song. For each song, all of these aspects will be different, so each song is a learning experience on its own. However, as you play more and more such songs, your vocabulary of chord fingerings and how to use them will grow, and your thumb will get used to the alternating bass style, so it will become easier and easier to pick up new material.

On pages 2-4, we look at these three aspects of "Things About Comin' My Way". To add a little variety, we look at the same three issues for a different tune, "Stagger Lee," on page 5.

In a second, intermediate-level lesson, Alternating Bass and Country Blues II I discuss some important methods of adding flavor to your country blues tunes, such as varying your fingerings, utilizing the pinky to stick in additional notes, and varying timing.
Alternating Bass and Country Blues I