The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Bass edition
by Dix Bruce: Alternate Bass Lines

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The following bass parts are for songs from my Parking Lot Picker's Songbook, Bass Edition. As I mentioned in the book, there are many different ways to play a bass part on any given song. The bass parts in the Parking Lot Picker's Songbook are fairly simple and quite rudimentary making good use of the "root-5" method of bass playing.

The bass parts below, while not much more difficult than those in the book, include a few different approaches that take the rhythm of the song in different directions. Try them out and see which you like. Obviously you can lift any of these bass parts out of the songs presented here and apply them to thousands of other similar songs.

On the recordings the bass lines are positioned to the right channel, the rest of the band to the left. As you'll hear, the bass parts are mixed quite a bit louder than you'd normally have them in a live show or on a recording. That is, unless, you are both the bass player and the band leader!

I've included more songs than I initially intended and there are similarities in some of the bass lines. Since the the songs are different I decided to include them all to give you a more extensive look at things you can do beyond the always appropriate "root-5" pattern of bass playing.

The first mp3 below is a discussion and demonstration of where the root and 5 notes are located on the bass fingerboard. Consult the diagrams and text on page 9 of the Parking Lot Picker's Songbook for more information.

—Dix Bruce

Just a Closer Walk (pp. 138)
Typically "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" would be played with half notes, also called "playing in 2 (two notes per measure)," with a "root-5" pattern. Here we're using quarter notes, also called "playing in," still with the "root-5" pattern. The difference here is that we're playing "root, root, 5, 5." Playing in 4 (four notes per measure) really pushes the rhythm along more than playing in 2. It gives more energy to the rhythm section. Playing "root, root, 5, 5" is very much like a "walking bass" line though with "walking bass" each consecutive note is usually different.

Just a Closer Walk music
Just a Closer Walk MP3

Give Me Oil in My Lamp (pp. 82)
Here we're using a more modern sound for the bass, almost a Latin type of groove. Like "root, root, 5, 5" we're adding a lot more energy to the bass part and the rhythm section generally with our use of dotted quarters followed by eighth notes. This is a bass pattern that you'll want to use with caution because it pulls the whole feel of the song in such a different direction from the "root-5" 1/2 note pattern.

Give Me Oil in My Lamp music
Give Me Oil in My Lamp MP3

Darling Cory (pp. 57)
Some of the other bass lines in the book are quite similar to this one. This line takes the basic 2-beat "root-5" 1/2 note pattern and adds some connecting notes between the 5 and the root.

Darling Cory music
Darling Cory MP3

Blue Ridge Mountain Blues (pp. 30)
Instead of just using the root and 5 notes of the chord, here we're adding in the third. By doing that we end up basing our line on the chord arpeggios. Here are the chord tones: G chord: G-B-D, D chord: D-F#-A, C chord: C-E-G.

Blue Ridge Mountain Blues music
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues MP3

Angel Band (pp. 14)
The Angel Band bass part is made up entirely of 1/4 note chord tones. This might be too energetic a bass line for such a solemn song and bass players, in a situation like this, might only play the 1/4 note walking bass on the intro to the song or on a turnaround between verses. I recorded it here in its entirety. As with Blue Ridge Mountain Blues you'll be playing a succession of chord tones: G chord: G-B-D, D chord: D-F#-A, C chord: C-E-G. A simpler alternative to this would be dotted 1/2 notes on the roots and fifths filling one whole measure each as shown in the book.

I added a second version where the G chord tones are played an octave lower. Try them both and see which you like best. Only bass line #1 is recorded.

Angel Band music 1
Angel Band music 2
Angel Band MP3

Who Broke the Lock (pp. 274)
Again we're adding in a few more chord tones to add movement to the bass line.

Who Broke the Lock music
Who Broke the Lock MP3

Roving Gambler (pp. 222)
The bass line is still made up of 1/2 notes, 2 beat, but we're adding in ascending chord tones.

Roving Gambler music
Roving Gambler MP3

Roll on Buddy (pp. 221)
Even though this bass line is written with 1/4 notes, the effect is that of a 1/2 note part with ascending and descending chord tones. The ending is chopped and the bass plays with the rest of the band.

Roll on Buddy music
Roll on Buddy MP3

Let Me Rest at the End of My Journey (pp. 150)
One more song with added 3rd chord tone.

Let Me Rest at the End of My Journey music
Let Me Rest at the End of My Journey MP3

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