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Awesome Chromatic Bass Lick (L#73)

If you've watched my lesson 'Using Simple Shapes on the Bass #2', perhaps you remember that it dealt with those 'sexy notes' that have a special flavor to them, that kinda surprise our ear, but in a nice way, well... at least for most of us.

In this new bass lesson, I'm showing you a very simple bass lick that does exactly that: the reason why it sounds so good is that it adds an element of surprise --that will probably get you a lot of 'wows' by the way!

The surprise comes from the fact that it includes a lot of notes that don't 'fit' in the expected harmony: most of the notes are not directly related to the G minor chord that we're playing over. As a result, there's a 'tension and release' effect that makes us feel good. Well, check out for yourself! ;)

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  • You sir, are one heavy mofo on that bass. Very nice lick!

  • Greg

    Nathan East! Badass!

    • scott

      Lol… You got me! He used it on the end of a Michael McDonald tune I heard… Can’t remember what tune it was… but when I heard him play it I was like ‘WOOOW’! ;)

  • Harry

    I loved it from the moment you played it for the first time.

  • Greg

    Mate it’s awesome! You should do a lesson on how to play the smash hit ‘Valerie’. I can’t help but think that would really benefit your life. Maybe Mustang Sally actually…..

  • Uros

    Great work…workin on it right now :)

  • Ron

    Hey, good lesson! I’ve been playing this shape for years, but I do like how you applied it.

  • jim andrews

    Thank a lot for your help love it :-)

  • Doe Prijono

    Hi Scott Just simply AMAZING…thanks so much!

  • CoolBlueDude

    No kidding Scott, b/c of my watching and learning from your EASY2LEARN bass lessons my skills have tripled in the past 2 months!!! I play Contemporary Christian music and what I’ve learned from you carries over so well into that genera of music as well as folk music. I’ve even played some Southern Rock and some Modern Rock with the same skills I’ve learned from you and it transitions SOOOOOO…. well!!! My unle has been playing drums for close to 55 years as a professional and I played with him the other day and he was impressed and said so in front of the other band members (that was the southern rock and modern rock). My Contemporary Christian band members are so impressed as well. I just lower my head in a humble manner and thank them thinking if only they knew my secret…lol. My Christian drummer plays professional on a large scale with big names and he too said I was professional level. They all said I should play professional but I watch your videos and realize just how far I have to go to be that good. I am very grateful for what you are doing here and if there was a way I could support you I would but like most, I don’t have any extra funds. Got paid today and EVERY single penny is gone and I didn’t even get gas for my truck!!! Love ya bro and God bless you for the effort and love you share with us!!!

  • Dave

    Hey Scott,another awesome lesson,many thanks.

  • John Maynard

    Hey Scott..

    A correction on my comment concerning the backing tracks overriding the bass; when listening through headphones, the mix sounds fine. Great lesson by the way. Thanks.

    • scott

      Yeah… I think laptop speakers are the culprit lol! Glad you’ve got it sorted man, enjoy! Scott ;)

  • glenn

    Scott once again you’ve given a lession thats like finding Gold. thx Bro

  • Greg

    Any chance you could do a lesson on how to play ‘sex on fire’ by Kings of Leon? I really like that tune and I wanna learn it on bass.

    Thanks in advance

  • dudes

    awesome wow thanks…

  • James

    I agree Scott is the Greatest Teacher of Bass on the tube. I wish to donate, PLEASE upload lots of R*B, Motown, Smoth Jazz licks, I already bought the backingtrack sets

  • Paul

    Hi Scott,

    great video, and you’re right: AWESOME lick!

    I love the comment towards the end about appropriateness (i.e. use it wisely), but would still encourage country bass players to try this one out now and again, and report back on the “whoop” effect (and/or whether they got “whooped” themselves for using it!)

    The only advice I’d give is not to overdo things, i.e. if you use this run throughout the whole song, the element of surprise will be very high at first…and not so high anymore about 2 minutes. That is: like all good spicy things, use sparingly. To sum up, then: use wisely, use sparingly…and remember to stand back when you have lit the blue touchpaper ;-)

    Another thing that makes the riff cool, I think, is the “verticality”, i.e. the “1-5-octave move” (and the move back down). And the rhythm of course.

    So there’s also potential for “developing” the riff over time, i.e. start with a simple chromatic run without the verticality (C-Cb-B-Bb…all the way down to the G),using the rhythm. Then repeat it an octave above next time round. Then (no idea if this sounds cool, so I’ll just try it out next time I’m “in the shed”): do the run with the “5’s”, i.e. G-Gb-F…). Then build in a bit of verticality. And so on. No idea if I’ve explained that well enough, so maybe I should produce my first video to show you what I mean?! Or – if you “catch my drift” (my God, I’m from Wolverhampton originally, where on earth does the phrase “catch my drift” come from?!) – maybe you could record a little “follow-up” clip illustrating what I mean (or what you have understood that I mean, i.e. the drift you have caught).

    But, the most interesting follow-up videos will be from those country bass plavers ;-)

    Keep up the great work, Scott! You, your videos and your riffs rock and you’re making us rock too!!!



  • jim andrews

    good stuff Scott, you’re a good teacher thank you. But I would like to know how to get that great sound coming over my laptop into my earphones? what kind of equipment are using and I hear no notes over ringing which drives me crazy on my setup what are your settings? is been very frustrated for me for years spending unreasonable amounts of dollars in trying to duplicate these great sounds I hear over the Internet into my music room that’s a good lesson I feel to teach all of us. Thank you for sharing looking forward from more from you.

  • Searchy

    And yet again an awesome lesson. You’re the greatest, Scott!

  • Aimiel

    Awesome lesson. Hope you could also do some lessons on vibrato and how hard you fretting fingers work on that.

  • I love the shaping, and REALLY love the way it’s bracketed into the groove. There’s no point in ‘going out’ if you don’t get ‘back’ in time!

  • Peter

    Hey Nice LICK!
    Scott is there any chance you make a basic tutorial on Equalizing? From the several videos you’ve uploaded i could recognize farily different tones with that same bass and it just cought my eye (or should i say ear?) since im not able to really shape the tone as precisely as i would like. Love that Gary Willis tone you get out of that bass.

  • Alec

    Scott man this is funkAy. Exactly the kind of thing that pleases my ear. Well done

  • Paul

    funky monkey :-)

  • M

    that is one mean lick – fantastic lesson!!

  • sitiveni

    Awsom bass lessons scott, guess wat tis is from Fiji nd i really enjoy learning bass from ur site!!

  • Philou46

    Hi scott, just discovered your bass lesson’s website by one of your vid on youtube and it is awesome, very intructive for my, i’m a new to bass (in fact i played for few years there is 30 y. ago …) and i really like the way you explain the things and how to play. i liked to ask a question, where could i find the tablature for the licks ? the chromatic one is awesome, i found the backing track but not the tab …
    Phil, from Paris, france.

  • peter adler


  • As I was listening to the “out” examples I was reminded of the book by Slonimsky, Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, [] that Coltrane used to study out of. Any chance you might venture down that road some day? It would be great to have a coach/ally enhance the parts of music theory that I missed out on.

    • scott

      Hey Howard, I’m definitely going to be doing lessons on ‘playing out’ this year so keep your eyes peeled ;)

  • Jesper

    HI Scott
    This one is wonderful, and I can play it pretty ok to my standards, but you got to help me out. The lick takes 18 notes. You start on 1, and you end on 1. How does that add up? I alway end up shorten it and add something else adding up to 1 bar, which is OK, I just hate it when I can’t figure it out!! Also the groove is easy (on the paper), but you seem to float quite a bit, which gives it all the charm, but pretty hard for me to dig.
    Been playing bass for the last 25 years, but since I found your site, I have improved like never before – cheers mate

    • Davey

      There are 16 notes in the lick (A full bar of 16th notes), with the last note being the high G, and then the grove starts again on the low G on the 1 of the next bar. Hope that helps in some way!

  • Bucky

    Hey Scott,
    Just subscribed and this is the first lesson I watched.
    Woop! Woop!
    I love that play.

  • rowen

    hey scott, what bassguitar do you use? and i love your lessons really helpfull

    cheers Rowen

  • “These jazz players” hahahah gold!

  • cool stuff! loveing this lick!