The walking bass is considered to be one of the three essential parts of a fingerstyle composition, together with the chords and the melody. It requires a lot of practice to develop the walking bass technique and to make the bass stand out from the other notes. But once you have succeeded in this, you will notice that it adds a new dimension to your guitar playing.

Exercise 1

This first walking bass exercise features a descending bass line. The bass line is recognized in the sheet music by the notes having their stem faced downwards, and also by the ‘p’ written above the notes, which indicates that these should be played with the thumb.
Although most of this fragment features only single notes, quite a bit of movement of the left hand is required in order to fret all the notes for both the melody and the bass part.


Exercise 2

A capo is used in this exercise, which is placed on the second fret. Both a melody and a bass note are played simultaneously on each beat, while in between the beats only melody notes are played.
The second bass note is fretted with the left thumb. Although in this particular fragment it is possible to use a different finger to fret the sixth string, it is good to practice this left hand thumb technique as it is frequently required in songs that contain a more complicated walking bass.


Exercise 3

This fragment features a walking bass, and the melody part contains harmonics, slides and a pull-off. It is a demanding piece for the left hand’s little finger as many of the notes need to be fretted by this finger.
Halfway through the last bar the left hand shifts five positions downward, but the relative positions of the fingers are the same before and after the shift. Try to minimize the squeaking sound of the strings during this position change.