Bass Walk of the Week: A Steve Swallow-Inspired Chromatic Line

As a kid, Steve Swallow studied piano and trumpet before turning to the double bass at around 14 years old. From there, he was hooked on the instrument and began playing with a variety of different jazz groups, often collaborating with vibraphonist Gary Burton.

In the early '70s, Swallow became one of the first jazz bassists to convert exclusively to electric bass guitar from the double bass. Swallow prefers to play 5-string basses with a high C string (of which he was also an early adopter) and a copper pick. This week, though, Jake is walking us through a Swallow line in C minor that doesn't require a fifth string, so he's using a Supro Huntington III.

Swallow is known for his intricate soloing in the upper register of his bass, but today, we're examining a chromatic line in the lower register. As Jake describes in the video above, what's cool about this bass part is that it moves a lot around C but never strays far from it. This shows bassists that lines don't always have to be super directional to be interesting and dynamic.

Be sure to follow along with Jake in the video above, and stay tuned for another installment of our Bass Walk of the Week series next Wednesday.

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