Tips & Techniques

Walking up & down between the E, A, and B7 (bass note transitions)

Lesson #49

Video Overview

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The core walk-ups and walk-downs of this lesson

In this lesson, I’ll show you how to walk up from E to A, from A to B7, and from B7 back down to A and E. In my video portion of the lesson, here’s the quick demo I play at the beginning where I preview this simple technique.

E ––––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––0–––––0–––––0––––––––|–
B ––––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––|–
G ––––––1–––––1–––––1–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––|–
D ––––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––|–
A ––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––0––0––0––0––0––0––0––1––|–
E –––0––0––0––0––0––0––2––4––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     E                       A

E –|––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––0–––––0––––0–––––––––||
B –|––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––0–––––0––––3–––––––––||
G –|––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––1–––––1––––1–––––––––||
D –|––––1–––––1–––––1–––––––––––2–––––2––––2–––––––––||
A –|–2––2––2––2––2––2–––––––––––2–––––2––––2–––––––––||
E –|–––––––––––––––––––4––2––0––0––0––0––––0–––––––––||
     B7                      E             E7

For a very simple deconstruction of what’s going on here, refer to this tab. Note the bass notes between the chords! That’s what I want to focus on – these transitional bass notes.

E ––0–––––––––––0–––––––––––2––––––––0–––––––––––0––
B ––0–––––––––––2–––––––––––0––––––––2–––––––––––0––
G ––1–––––––––––2–––––––––––2––––––––2–––––––––––1––
D ––2–––––––––––2–––––––––––1––––––––2–––––––––––2––
A ––2–––––––––––0––0––1––2––2––2––1––0––0––––––––2––
E ––0––0––2––4–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––4––2––0––
    E           A           B7       A           E

Chords being used

By the way, if you need to worry about learning the chords I’m using here, refer to these tabs. In the right-hand version, I show a few barre chord voicings for the B-major chord (which I’m not using in this lesson, but wanted to include for reference & context).

E ––––0–––––––0––––––2–––––          E –––––––––7––––
B ––––0–––––––2––––––0–––––          B ––––4––––7––––
G ––––1–––––––2––––––2–––––          G ––––4––––8––––
D ––––2–––––––2––––––1–––––          D ––––4––––9––––
A ––––2–––––––0––––––2–––––          A ––––2––––9––––
E ––––0––––––––––––––––––––          E –––––––––7––––
      E       A      B7                    B    B

How to learn and practice this

If you’re just getting started with this run, first worry about E and A (don’t bring in B7 yet). Repeat this sequence, going from E to A and back down to E. Repeat.

E –––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––0–––––0–––––0––––––––
B –––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––
G –––––1–––––1–––––1–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––
D –––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––
A –––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––0––0––0––0––0––0––––––––
E ––0––0––0––0––0––0––2––4––––––––––––––––––––4––2––
    E                       A

Then, worry about going from A to B7 and back to A. Repeat.

E –––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––
B –––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––0–––––0–––––0––––––––
G –––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––2–––––2–––––2––––––––
D –––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––1–––––1–––––1––––––––
A ––0––0––0––0––0––0––0––1––2––2––2––2––2––2––2––1––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    A                       B7          

When you’ve mastered these two transitions, you can do the full E to A to B7 back down to A and E.

Having trouble with the middle and ring fingers?

When playing the bass notes, I strongly recommend using your middle and ring fingers (in addition to your index finger). While you technically can pull this off using only your index finger, it’s a bad habit that I suggest avoiding. You need to train your weaker fingers (middle, ring, pinky) – and though it can be frustrating at first it pays off later.

Here’s a simple exercise I suggest:

E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––                    
B –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––                     
G –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––                     2nd fret = index finger   
D –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––   ...repeat         3rd fret = middle finger   
A –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––                     4th fret = ring finger
E –––2––3––4––3––2––3––4––3––––                   

Songs that use this sort of transition

β€œWalk the Line” by Johnny Cash is a powerhouse example of this technique used a ton. Here’s the first few measures. See my full lesson on this song if you want to learn it in full.

E –––––––––––0–––0––––––––––––2–––2––––––––––––0––––
B –––––––––––2–––2––––––––––––3–––3––––––––––––2––––
G –––––––––––2–––2––––––––––––2–––2––––––––––––2––––
D –––––––––––2–––2–––––––––0––––––––0–0––––––––2––––
A ––––––––0––––––––0–0–2–4––––––0–––––––4–2–0––0––––
E ––0–2–4––––––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
             A                D                A

β€œAngel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by Willie Nelson has a similar run with these notes.

E –––0––––––––––––––––––––––––0––––
B –––0––––––––––––––––––––––––2––––
G –––1––––––––––––––––––––––––2––––
D –––2––––––––––––––––––––––––2––––
A –––2–––––––––––––––––––0––––0––––
E –––0–––0–––1–––2–––4–––––––––––––
     E                        A

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