3 Ways to Play Solos on Bass Guitar Lesson –> One of the most asked questions we get from students and website visitors is “How do I play solos on bass?” Many of our students believe that playing solos on bass is complicated. They think you need to be an advanced player to solo and that doing so is outside of their particular skill level.
However, soloing on bass (and guitar) doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Of course there are those players that are very advanced and can shred out a solo that is very difficult to play. But playing solos can be quite simple – in fact research shows that people connect with and enjoy those solos that are more simple. What counts is the expression, feel, passion, and emotion that you are uniquely able to convey through your playing. Regardless of how complicated or difficult it is to play.
Soloing on bass is just a matter of knowing what to do, and practicing those things. Below are 3 techniques and methods that you can use to learn how to solo on bass. Learn and practice these, and you will be creating solos that sound great and connect you with your audience.
1. Playing Solos on Bass Guitar Using Scales
One method of playing solos is using scales. A lot bassists see playing scales as being boring or something you play as a technique exercise. But in fact scales can be used as a tool to be very creative and play great sounding solos. There are a lot of really cool things you can do just with a scale.
For example try this method:
- Pick any scale – major, minor, dominant, etc.
- Start on the highest note in that scale.
- Play down four notes in descending order (high to low).
- Then go back up two notes from where you ended, and play down another 4 notes
- Go back up 2 notes from where you ended and play down another 4 notes
- Repeat this until you’ve played down to the lowest note in the scale
You can use this method in many different ways. For example, you can start with the lowest note in the scale and use this method to play in ascending order (low to high). Or instead of playing 4 notes up or down, play 3 notes instead and go up 1 note. You can start on any note in the scale, play any combination of notes, in any order, etc, etc..
Below is a video of pro bassist Alex Scott demonstrating this method of playing solos using scales. This is a free lesson courtesy of JamPlay Bass Lessons. Click to access this entire lesson and hundreds of other bass lessons on JamPlay Bass.
2. Playing Solos on Bass Guitar Using Arpeggios
Arpeggios are related to scales but can be used to create solos that sound different. Arpeggios are tones (notes) within a scale that outline the shape of the chord we are playing. The most common way we play an arpeggio is by playing the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of any scale. Try this method of playing solos by using the notes in an arpeggio:
- Pick any scale – major, minor, dominant, etc.
- Play the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th (arpeggio) notes of that scale in descending order (high to low)
- Then find the 2nd note of that scale and play an arpeggio in descending order based off of that note.
- Then find the 3rd note in that scale and play an arpeggio in descending order based off of that note, etc, etc.
- For example if your playing a C major scale the notes are C-D-E-F-G-A-B.
- Start on C and play the arpeggio: root (C), 3rd (E), 5th (G), and 7th (B).
- Then start on the 2nd note in the scale D and play the arpeggio from there: root (D), 3rd (F), 5th (A), and 7th (C)
- Then start on the 3rd note in the scale E and play the arpeggio from there: root (E), 3rd (G), 5th (B), and 7th (D)
- Then start on the 4th note in the scale, etc, etc…
You can mix things up however you like. For example you don’t have to start on the root note. You can start with any note in the scale and play the arpeggio from there. You can play from low to high, or in any order you want.
Below is a video of pro bassist Alex Scott demonstrating this method of playing solos using arpeggios. This is a free lesson courtesy of JamPlay Bass Lessons. Click to access this entire lesson and hundreds of other bass lessons on JamPlay Bass.
3. Playing Solos on Bass Guitar Using Vocalization
Vocalization means playing notes on an instrument to create melodic sounds that emulate singing. While you might not be a great singer, anyone can hum or sing out loud any notes or melodies they have in their head. Vocalization means that you are taking those notes and playing them on your instrument. You can use vocalization to create melodies that can be used as solos. Try this method for creating solos using vocalization:
- Start by singing or humming a melody. This may be something you already have worked out in your head, or it could be something you create through improvisation.
- As you are humming and/or or singing, try to play these notes on bass at the same time.
- Or do this in reverse order – trying playing notes on your bass and then sing or hum these same notes as you’re playing them.
Vocalization is a more advanced way of playing solos. It can be tricky getting your fingers to play what you are singing. It can take some practice to get to that point. Start off practicing by just singing melodies along with a play along track, or chord progression that you’ve written. Then start to work on playing the notes while you sing. Vocalization can become easier as you get better at playing things like scales and arpeggios. Keep working at it and it will get easier and easier for your fingers to translate the melodies in your brain to notes on your bass guitar.
Below is a video of pro bassist Alex Scott demonstrating this method of playing solos using vocalization. This is a free lesson courtesy of JamPlay Bass Lessons. Click to access this entire lesson and hundreds of other bass lessons on JamPlay Bass.
It’s important to point out that the methods we described can be used on both bass and guitar. There is sometimes a perception that the methods for soloing on bass must somehow be different than those used on guitar. If you’re a guitarist that is familiar with any method for soloing on guitar, those methods should be able to translate for use when playing solos on bass.
Thanks for checking out our “3 Ways to Play Solos on Bass Guitar Lesson”. Hopefully we’ve given you some help and insight for understanding how to play solos on bass. If you’re interested in accessing more lessons like these (and hundreds more), we highly recommend JamPlay Bass Lessons. Bass Player Center provided a review of their site and services – click here to check it out!. Or to visit the JamPlay Bass Lessons main page click here.