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Lead Sheet Navigation for Bass Players


Knowing how to demystify lead sheets when you first look at them is a SUPER valuable skill that will last you a lifetime...

The gag is, what do you look at first?...

Key signature? Form? Common Chordal Movements (and why should you be looking for these?!)? Plus... everything else that's going on. Without a 'road map' it can be really overwhelming and confusing if you don't know where to start.

In this lesson I'm going to show you the top 4 things you should look out for, plus the exact order you should use when first looking at a lead sheet.

Whether you're already using lead sheets or you don't even know what they are, this lesson is going to be great for you!

Note: This lesson is just one of the lessons from the "Reading Charts Survival Guide" course within the Scott's Bass Lessons membership... if you dig the lesson, make sure you grab your free 14 day trial so you can check out the full course + all of the other amazing courses and cool features within the Academy.

As always, see you in the shed...

Scott :)

PS. Also, just a quick update on the SBL "One Strap"...

If you missed it, we released our very first strap just before the holidays and to our surprise it completely sold out of all pre-orders within 48 hours!

If you haven't checked out the strap yet you can watch the video here to find out more - and we've also set up a waitlist for you if you want be notified next time we make these available.

  • Stefan Boret

    To me chord Cm7 is chord III and in the last row Abmaj7 i chord I. Or am i wrong?

    • Robert

      I agree with you Stefan, somehow Scott switched from Ab to Eb and the key signature was dictating Ab.

    • Trebor0012

      If you listen to the chord progression, you’ll find that the pitch center in line 3 (ignoring the intro) is Eb, not Ab. Yes, c-7 is a iii chord in the key of Ab but, in this case, measures 1-5 and 9-13 (again, ignoring the intro) echo each other: vi ii V7 I IV in Ab, then the same pattern in Eb. Soloing over each segment can be approached similarly, with the first statement in Ab and the second in Eb.

  • Ian Lewis

    Thanks Scott. Most of my playing is from fully written-out bass parts and I use (your) steps 1, 2, 4, and then, if I have the time; 3. But when I’m playing in smaller combos, reading from fake books, I use (your) steps 1, 2, 3 & 4 (the melodic players/singers don’t always follow the written form, but it helps to have looked at where the Head, verses, choruses, bridge etc. start and end. Thanks again for another useful lesson. And if I may suggest – Stefan, Trebor, Robert, don’t get too hung up on whether the Cm7 is or isn’t a III, just follow Scott’s steps to make your reading easier.