Warm Up Exercise

Country Bass Line Exercise in 6/8 Time

Lesson #297

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! Today’s lesson teaches a 16-measure exercise focusing on country bass lines in 6/8 time – specifically looking at the techniques of walking bass lines (between chord changes) along with alternating bass notes (while strumming). Together, these are techniques you’ll find use in many country and folk songs. My hope is this exercise gives you a nice & distilled opportunity to practice this without the burden of an entire songs (lyrics, additional chord progressions, etc). I play this exercise at 2 speeds: one slow (45 BPM) and another fast (60 BPM), for you to reference. Finally, I should note that this exercise was inspired by the song “Piece of Your Heart” by Gabe Lee – an up-and-coming country singer & excellent songwriter who I can’t recommend enough. I hope you enjoy!

Timestamps for this lesson:

Full exercise

See the PDF chord sheet (linked above) for the full tab.


Here’s the chord shapes this exercise uses.

E –––2–––3–––0–––  –––2––––3––––0––––0––––0––––
B –––3–––0–––2–––  –––1––––2––––2––––3––––0––––
G –––2–––0–––2–––  –––2––––0––––0––––2––––1––––
D –––0–––0–––2–––  –––0––––2––––2––––2––––2––––
A –––––––2–––0–––  ––––––––0––––0––––0––––2––––
E –––––––3–––––––  –––––––––––––––––––––––0––––
     D   G   A        D7   A7   A7  Asus4 E

Alternating bass-line basics

One core technique used in this exercise is that of playing an alternating bass note for the D and A chords. The idea is to (1) pluck the normal bass note (e.g., open 4th string on a D); (2) then strum the full D chord; (3) then play a lower bass note before (4) playing the full chord again. Then repeat! See my video lesson for reference. Be able to do this fluidly, even if it means you have to start quite slowly.

In 4/4 time:                           In 6/8 time:

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

Walk up basics

Here’s the technique of walking up the bass line before playing the chord (used for both D and A). When you practice this, work up to the point where you can combine the alternating bass note pattern above with these walk-in sequences used occasionally. For both walk-ups shown here, left index finger is on the 2nd fret of the 5th or 6th string (left middle on 3rd fret, left ring on 4th fret).

D walk-up...             A walk-up...

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

Shout out to Gabe Lee

Gabe Lee is a young country artist whose song “Piece of Your Heart” is the inspiration for this exercise. He has two albums out (as of early 2020), both of which are great! I recommend his music for sure. Here’s the the album with the song that inspired this exercise – track 2, specifically.

Gabe Lee · Honky Tonk Hell

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