Tips & Techniques
Walking up & down between the E, A, and B7 (bass note transitions)
Get the PDF chord sheet (2 pages)
- Support me on Patreon.com to get access to this and 200+ other PDF chord sheets I've made, plus new PDFs I make going forward (1-2 added each week).
- The cost is $3/month (one month minimum, cancel anytime). Here's a free sample if you're on the fence. Thanks for supporting me & this project!
After clicking the button and logging in to Patreon, look for the PDF attached to the bottom of the post.
In this lesson, I show a practice tip on how you can transition between the chords of E, A, and B7 – specifically by playing bass notes that walk up and down between these chords. This is a very common technique you’ll find in lots of country music, especially from artists like Johnny Cash (e.g., Walk the Line) and Willie Nelson (e.g., Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground). I’ll show you the basics of how to play the chords used (E, A, and B7 – including tabs) and then break down the fundamentals of this technique.
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
“Walk 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
“Angel 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
Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
Recent video lessons:
📝 Print-friendly PDFs now available for all new lessons I make, including all those listed below. Get a free sample »
- G-chord finger position guide
Oct 25, 2020 • Lesson #334
- Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Oct 23, 2020 • Lesson #65
- Father and Son by Cat Stevens
Oct 18, 2020 • Lesson #333
- Layla by Eric Clapton (acoustic)
Oct 11, 2020 • Lesson #103
- Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
Oct 9, 2020 • Lesson #331
- Norwegian Wood by The Beatles
Oct 4, 2020 • Lesson #169
- Sultans of Swing (chorus lick) by Dire Straits
Oct 3, 2020 • Lesson #174
- Surrender (acoustic) by Cheap Trick
Sep 27, 2020 • Lesson #330
- Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
Sep 25, 2020 • Lesson #134
- Welcome to Paradise by Tyler Childers / Green Day
Sep 19, 2020 • Lesson #322
- Betty by Taylor Swift
Sep 17, 2020 • Lesson #321
- Rapid-fire Q&A: Up-strums, tricky rhythms, muting with your thumb, and more
Sep 13, 2020 • Lesson #329
- Old Man by Neil Young
Sep 12, 2020 • Lesson #328
- 2-finger Blues in Drop-D Tuning
Sep 6, 2020 • Lesson #163
- Learning the intro riff to "Old Man" by Neil Young
Sep 5, 2020 • Lesson #326
- Learnin' to Fly by Tom Petty
Aug 29, 2020 • Lesson #108