Walking Between Chords (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Walking Between Chords

In past lessons, you learned the bass/chop rhythm and alternating bass lines. Now, Steve demonstrates how to walk a bass line between chords.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg seriesLength: 21:07Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (0:46) Introduction Steve plays “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” with a technique known as the walking bass line. Walking bass is a form of bass line that combines scalar movement with chromaticism. Its primary function is to provide a musically effective path to travel between chord changes. Walking bass provides a bassline with movement. The bass line sounds pretty stagnant if it only moves back and forth between the root and fifth of a chord. The rhythm of a walking bassline typically remains constant. Most walking bass lines in the jazz genre feature a steady quarter note rhythm. In bluegrass however, the bass line moves in repeated eighth notes.

In this lesson, you will learn the fundamental rules of playing a walking bass line. You will also apply this concept to the chord changes of “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.”
Chapter 2: (5:35) Intro to Walking Bass Line In the first two lessons, Steve demonstrated how to perform the bass/chop technique. He also taught you how to alternate the bass line between the root and fifth of the chord. Learning how to “walk” a bass line is the next appropriate step to take in learning bluegrass guitar.

Before you dive into the content of this lesson, there are a few extremely important rules that must be learned.
1. The rhythm of a walking bass line must remain constant at all times. In this lesson, all walking lines are played with a steady eighth note rhythm. If a quarter note or another slower note value is thrown in, it serves as a speed bump in the music.

2. A note cannot be repeated two eighth notes in a row.

3. The note a half step below the chord’s root is the most appropriate choice when approaching a chord change. For example, if you are approaching a C chord, you should lead into it with a B. However, this is not always practical or possible. In certain occasions, another route must be taken.

4. Unlike a walking bass line in the jazz genre, a bluegrass bass line only uses chromaticism when absolutely necessary.
All of the musical examples in this lesson are played in the key of G. However, once you have completed this lesson, you should be able to apply these principles to any major or minor key. Once again, “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” will be played with only G, C, and D chords.

Listen to how Steve plays the first measure. Before he explains what he is playing, pause the video and attempt to learn this measure by ear. Remember that ear training is a very important skill to develop regardless of what style of music you play.

Starting with the first beat, the G bass note is played on the downbeat. Once again, the chop follows on the “and” of 1. Now, the walking bass line is applied. Instead of playing another simple bass/chop, Steve uses notes from the G major scale to walk up to the next chord: C major.

At this point in time, we know a few key pieces of information.
1. We know that we are traveling from a G chord to a C chord.

2. We must accomplish this task in the space of 2 eighth notes.
If our starting point is G, the easiest way to get to C in two eighth notes is to play A followed by B. Thus, the C chord is approached by the note a half step below it.

Next, let’s a look at the second half of the first measure. Once again, the first beat of the C chord must consist of a bass/chop. Then, we have two eighth notes in which we must return to G. Simply retrace your steps back to G by playing B followed by A. Loop this measure and practice it at a slow pace until you feel comfortable.

Note: There are other ways to accomplish a walking line from G to C. Walking bass lines will be discussed in great detail as a component of Matt’s Phase 2 Jazz Series.
Chapter 3: (5:32) Walking Between C and D In this scene, Steve provides you with two examples of how to walk from C to D.

A. Option 1
Since C and D are only 1 step apart and no note from the scale exists between them, a chromatic note must be added to create the walking line. At this point, we know that we must travel from C to D in two beats. How could we possibly do this? Begin with a bass/chop on beat one. Now only one beat remains. Remember that a note cannot be repeated twice in a row within a walking line. As a result, another bass/chop must be performed on the note C#. Steve simply slides the C chord shape up a half step. A better option is to play a different chord altogether called C# diminished (written C#º). Take a look at Matt’s Phase 2 Jazz Lessons for a fingering of this chord.
B. Option 2
If we cut out the bass/chop altogether, we have four eighth notes free to use for a walking line. Steve demonstrates one possible way of doing this: In eighth notes, play C, B, C, then C#.

Here’s another effective way to create a walking line: In eighth notes, play C, low G, C, then C#. The G note works because it’s the fifth of the C chord. Try to think of some other possibilities on your own.
Chapter 4: (5:19) Walking from D back to G Once again, Steve gives you two possible ways to walk from D to G. This walking line must occur within the span of two beats.

A. Option 1
Option 1 involves descending down the G major scale from D to G.
B. Option 2
Begin with a bass/chop on the first beat. Then, play a low E followed by F#. This option provides a stronger resolution to the subsequent G chord.
Chapter 5: (3:57) Walking from G to D and Back + Final Thoughts Steve demonstrates a walk from G to D and back again in this scene. Once again, there are several different ways of accomplishing this task. Steve demonstrates the most viable and most common option. This walking line brings up an interesting point. When creating a walking bass line, it is always best to start at your destination and work backwards. For example, if you must end up at D, what are the two notes in the G major scale that must precede it? Like Steve demonstrates, these notes are B and C. To walk from D back to G, simply retrace your steps down the scale.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” Tab for tablature of all the walking lines presented in this lesson.

Once you have mastered walking between each chord change, your next goal is to play the whole song through with a walking bass line. You are now ready to combine the bass/chop, alternating bass line, and walking bass line into rhythm playing. Keep in mind that all of these elements need not be present at all times. However, you now have all of these tools available at your disposal.

Before you proceed to the next lesson, practice playing a walking bass line to other chord progressions that you are familiar with.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


Iain1028Iain1028 replied on August 4th, 2014

I like this teacher, really takes time to slow down and explain. Going stick with this series. Thank you!

roadbikerroadbiker replied on March 31st, 2013

When transitioning from the D to the G, rather than going from D to E-F#-G, is it "acceptable to walk E-F-F#-G? To me it sounds better and if you can doit, why not? Thanx! Grat lessons!!! Jim

boys95boys95 replied on February 2nd, 2012

where are all the remarks to the posts people leave?

jnc51jnc51 replied on September 27th, 2011

Steve, I have a question that I think I have the answer to but I want to be certain. When I'm in the G measure and the next measure is C, do I start the walking bass in the beginning of the C measure ir the end of the G measure? Also when I walk the bass from C to G, I'm ending the measure with the root bass, do I start the next measure with the 5th or play the root again? I'm a little confused; I tried to pick it up in your final segment but it was too fast for me. Thanks

jnc51jnc51 replied on September 27th, 2011

I think I found my answer in the supplemental content; when going from G to C I start the walking at the end of the G measure. It all makes sense now. These lessons are great; I know you did them a while ago but as an added aid I would like to see the song,"She'll Be Comin Round the Mountain" in the supplemental content as the lessons advance from Bass/Chop to Alt Bass/Chop to Walking Bass; I think this would clear things up a lot, at least for me. Great lessons though, thanks

koineboykoineboy replied on September 3rd, 2007

The graphic of the bass walk doesn't appear to be what steve has us playing in the lesson. Is that intentional?

Cecilia2Cecilia2 replied on June 7th, 2011

Steve, I will say you that I can very good follow your lesson, it is a very good step by step instruction. But it will take time for me to be faster.

sendbahtsendbaht replied on January 18th, 2009

Hi, ok ready to learn "she be coming around the mountain" but where is the sheet music for it? I see Steve paly it but I thought maybe after the lesson it would be up. Where please do I find it. Thanks.

sendbahtsendbaht replied on January 19th, 2009

Sorry, found it... sign of a lonley man answering my own post.:)

jdorskymdjdorskymd replied on December 1st, 2010

please share where you found the song!

adjohns3adjohns3 replied on November 1st, 2010

chord charts in info show C CHORD one way and you play it another way in lessons...show it how you play it would make it easier...

skyyrainskyyrain replied on August 26th, 2010

Why do you leave out the D string when you play the chop?

donwphillipsdonwphillips replied on April 17th, 2010

Steve, I am having a great time with this class. I normally play rock and this class is improving my rythm.

billdbilld replied on April 5th, 2010

steve i can't seem to get the walk from c to d is their a better illustration

thablazethablaze replied on September 24th, 2009

Steve. you are a very good instructor.

rymsharymsha replied on August 17th, 2009

I loved the walks from C to D and G to D and back. However, I can't find the chords/sheet music to She'll be coming round the mountain. Where do I find them?

sourcoresourcore replied on April 23rd, 2009

what is that beautiful guitar?

mclovinmclovin replied on February 18th, 2009

what are the rules for what note to play between the chords? how do I know that it's supouse to be G A B C?

quasiiquasii replied on September 15th, 2008

Hey Steve, great lesson... in scene 4, you discuss walking from D to G by either D>C>B>A>G or E>F#>G but the tabs are not in the supplemental content. Could you please add those tabs to Exercise 4 for practice? THanks

quasiiquasii replied on September 15th, 2008

ahhh.. nevermind... i found it. thanks

bizarrobizarro replied on March 11th, 2008

Hi Steve, must be great out there in the farm, couldn't you come back and just replay “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” at a slower tempo in “Video Q&A”. You know, I didn't sail on the Mayflower. Kind Regards

amberamber replied on February 21st, 2008

Hi Steve, I'm enjoying the lessons very much but I'm not a computer whiz so maybe this is a silly question. The lessons are seperated by chapters so if I master the first and second lessons and later on want to go on to the third chapter, how can I go there immediately without viewing chapters 1 & 2 again?

koineboykoineboy replied on September 4th, 2007

Thanks guys!

whitsinnwhitsinn replied on February 18th, 2008

why go from c c# d when u can do c b c d?

changechange replied on October 29th, 2007

could you please add the picture of the board (on which steve has written down the different chords and notes) to the supplemental content? that would be very helpful... thanks in advance!

jboothjbooth replied on October 29th, 2007

Sure, I'll try to get that done ASAP! Thank you for the suggestion.

jboothjbooth replied on September 3rd, 2007

I found a small error in exercise 1. Thank you for letting us know, it has been fixed. I am checking over the other exercises now =) Let me know if you find any other errors. Sometimes these things slip by unnoticed (that and I stink at making tab) =)

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on September 3rd, 2007

Hi Koineboy, Which of the Exercises don't appear to match the lesson? 1, 2, 3 or 4? Steve

Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Bluegrass is one of the most recognizable styles of guitar. Some refer to bluegrass as a celebration of the simple things in life. Dive into this series to learn the essential components of the bluegrass guitar style.



Lesson 1

Intro to Bluegrass

Steve demonstrates basic, essential bluegrass techniques. In this lesson, you will learn the bass/chop technique.

Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Building the Song

Now that you have the bass/chop down, Steve demonstrates additional bluegrass techniques.

Length: 21:06 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Walking Between Chords

Steve takes our bluegrass song one step further in this lesson. He demonstrates how to play a walking bass line between chords.

Length: 21:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Accenting Your Play

In this lesson, Steve discusses hammer-ons and pull-offs and how they are used in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 33:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Double Picking and Scales

Steve explains double picking, also known as alternate picking. He teaches a scale that enables you to play an awesome bluegrass lick.

Length: 30:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Bluegrass Licks

Steve teaches a widely used bluegrass lick.

Length: 22:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Descending Lick

In this lesson Steve teaches a descending bluegrass lick.

Length: 34:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Bluegrass Melody

Steve gives tips on playing a melody line in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Raising the Octave

Steve demonstrates how you can use "closed chord" voicings in order to raise the octave of the melody. Great lesson!

Length: 38:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Fun Bluegrass Licks

Steve demonstrates some bluegrass licks that serve as introductions, endings, and transitions within a song.

Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

I Am a Pilgrim

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic bluegrass song entitled "I Am a Pilgrim." He covers strumming, the melody, and walking bass lines.

Length: 28:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Angel Band

Steve teaches a bluegrass waltz titled "Angel Band."

Length: 28:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Catchy Bluegrass Lick

Steve dives deep into another classic Bluegrass lick that you can use to flare up a jam session or song.

Length: 20:46 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 14

Wabash Cannonball Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches the first part of the bluegrass classic, "Wabash Cannonball."

Length: 18:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Wabash Cannonball Part 2

Steve continues his two part "Wabash Cannonball" series by teaching how to develop the basic rhythm and melody into unique solo sections.

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Ballad of Jesse James Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches this old tune as if it were being played back in the old days. Here, Steve demonstrates the verse, chorus, and melody. Enjoy the story behind this one!

Length: 15:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Ballad of Jesse James Part 2

In his second lesson of "The Ballad of Jesse James," Steve Eulberg demonstrates a more in depth look at how to play the song in a bluegrass form. This lesson is all about double stops, and when combined...

Length: 21:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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