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In this module we are going to look at using scale-wise motion in our lines. Scale degrees between two chord tones are called passing tones. By employing them, our walking line takes on a very smooth, flowing motion. What we need to bear in mind is to apply the right scale to the chord being played. Whenever you will see  Maj7 chord you will be playing a major scale (Ionian). Over m7 chords you are going to use Dorian scale. Mixolydian scale applies to dominant chord and Locrian will be used over m7b5 chord. The PDF file explains differences in these scales. Notice that in this module instead of R (root of the chord) I use 1 to describe scale degree. It is the same note but different terminology.

In our lessons we will continue working on Jazz Blues, however we are going to transpose it to a different key. You should still apply new concepts to previously learnt tune “Autumn Leaves”. It is also time to introduce another standard song to our repertoire. “Satin Doll” is a great one for our purposes. Remember to write out the changes in each key and also learn new song using concepts from Module 1 .


1-2-3-1 Pattern

This ascending pattern uses scale degree 2 and is very popular and widely used in many walking lines. Remember to apply the right scale to the right chord and about the difference between natural and b2 and natural and b3.

1-2-3-a  and 1-2-3-b Pattern

Next two patterns are very similar to previous one but instead of repeating the root on beat four we play half step above or below. Again this a very popular concept in walking lines. Make sure to isolate each pattern and work on them separately.

1-2-3-5 Pattern

This pattern strongly outlines sound of the chord by usage of triad emphasised by passing tone between root and third.

1-7-6-5 Pattern

This time we walk scale in descending fashion. This is a very smooth way of connecting with root of the chord down a fifth.

1-7-6-a  and 1-7-6-b Pattern 

Similar patterns to the previous one, instead of playing 5th we utilize half steps above and below. Practice each pattern separately until you can hear it in your head.


If you have mastered the patterns from Module 1 and Module 2 you can now play very solid and good sounding walking lines without repeating yourself every two bars. Moreover, those lines can be heard on the most of great jazz recordings. The fact that they are simple does not mean that they are bad, on the contrary the fact they are simple make them more solid and this is what every bass player should strive for. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

16 Comments on Module 2 – Scales (Passing Tones)

  1. Tomasz! I am so happy you have made this lesson! It is advanced for my playing at this point in time but I understand the theory and really appreciate your generosity in teaching so simply and beautifully. As a matter of fact, I was just practicing RRR-a and RRR-b on Autumn Leaves in Em and took a break to check e-mail! You have obviously had formal training. How long have you been playing and how did you learn? best regards, Jim

    • Hi Jim!
      I am very happy, that you find the lesson helpful and that you like my teaching approach.
      I have been playing bass for about 7 years now and believe me or not but I am mainly a self-taught.
      However I studied music and still do with private teachers. It would be great to have a formal education, however I never had enough time and money to do that.
      I am great believer that all is in your hands . If you want to master the instrument, you can do it without going to a music school (but it always helps). Nowadays we have plenty of other options to gain the knowledge from: Internet, private teachers, courses, books and publications.
      Keep practicing, start a practice journal and set yourself short and long-term goals. It is all in your hands!

  2. Tomasz, Great 1-7-6-5 lesson . . . so many teachers have no idea how to teach ‘Walking’. Your system is methodical and motivating. Looking forward to future modules!

    • Hi, Thanks a lot. It is very rewarding to hear that my style of teaching is effrective. I am also exited about future modules. Already started working on videos. Happy New Year! Tomasz

  3. There are no pdfs for autumn leaves in Eminor in the downloads.Can you supply a separate download for these. Thanks. happy new year!!

    • Hi, Yes I know I only included Autumn Leaves in G minor. The whole idea about this method of learning walking bass is that students write out themselves tune’s progression in all keys and practice given patterns in all keys. If you take your time to do that you will be amazed with result. All the best, TZ

      • ive written autumn leaves out in C so that i could use the numeral chord numbers (C= i D=2 etc..) i did that before i even looked at module 2. so i will write it out in Em as well thanks.

  4. wow i really really enjoy your teaching alot wish i really appreciate….Thank you so much.I’m a beginner in bass guitar and hope can i be one of your student and what are the thing i can do to improve my playing..

  5. Thank you very much for this wonderful work well done sir, am really improved by just reading the notes here but am finding it difficult to download the videos, is there a way i can easily download the videos so that i can improve my practice even when am not online?

  6. Hi Tomaz,
    I am starting to learn the second module and it is becoming easier as I progress through your lesson. I really like the walking bass lines in your intro to your video in this module and the next one. What songs are these from? And can we get the bass chords for these as well?

    Thanks for your videos,

    • Hi Vivian,
      The tune I walk over in the intro to Module 2 is Donna Lee. In Module 3 it is Summertime. You can easily find the chords for them online.
      If you have problems finding them let me know!

  7. Hi Tomasz,
    your lessons on walkingbass lines are avesome, but i have a problem, i cant download the free materials. Can you help me? Cheers


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