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by George Urbaszek

Welcome to a new column designed primarily for bass players with a desire to improvise. Many aspects of improvisation will be covered, from walking bass line construction to soloing techniques and groove creation.

Often bass players are required to come up with a groove – instantaneously, now! Inexperienced players often have no idea where to begin and therefore stumble or freeze. Here are some tips to guide you beyond that first moment of panic. The following steps will initially develop slowly. However, with practice and increased awareness of the elements, grooves will start to come quickly and intuitively. (Intuition can be defined as a quick sub-conscious decision-making process based on our relevant prior experiences and current observations.)

1)      Sing or hum a phrase of a tune or bass line you know very well – IMITATION.

2)      Hum only the rhythm of that phrase or line on one pitch/note – SIMPLIFICATION.

3)      Choose a different group of notes (try using only a few notes) and put them in some kind of order – ALTERATION.

4)      Play those notes in the chosen order using the rhythm of the reference phrase/line – APPLICATION.

5)      If this does not sound satisfactory, change a note and/or rhythm until it works – MUTATION.

6)      You should still be able to relate to the reference phrase/line – ASSOCIATION.

7)      Now play the new phrase until it grooves, i.e. has consistency – GROOVE CREATION.

Another option just as good as the one discussed, is to use only the notes of the known phrase or bass line and alter the rhythm to create a new groove.

Lots of great grooves and tunes have been consciously or sub-consciously found using one of these approaches. Think about this method in relation to your own groove-making abilities. If it seems like a good option, use it.


Bass of Luck!

George Urbaszek


George Urbaszek plays and teaches in the Great Down Under, in Australia. This year he will be busy touring with Sweet Mischief, promoting the 9-piece band’s debut album. He also teaches worldwide via audio correspondence. For more information about George and his lessons, go to




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