Not included in Paul Wolfe’s Play Bass in 50 Songs – Rock list is this one from Radiohead. It was the second bass-line that I thought I could play – although recently I have discovered that I was playing it slightly wrong!

Kris Rodgers has a tutorial for this one on his Bass Bass Bass You Tube channel here.

Not much else to say about this – the notes are pretty straightforward so you can concentrate on the rhythm.



With or Without You


The second song in Paul Wolfe’s Play Bass in 50 Songs – Rock list is this one from U2’s Joshua Tree album. Paul says this about it:

One of my favourite U2 songs – simple bass line too, four chords, root notes in a steady 8th note pulse.

This was the first song that I worked out how to play on my own, but if you need a tutorial there’s one here by Dave Marks which shows you how to play the entire line on one string!

Slightly more adventurous – using 2 strings – is this version, which also has a tab. This is similar to the way I worked out to play it – I played the A notes on the 5th fret of the E string rather than with the open A string, meaning that I could almost play the entire song from one hand position.

And, of course, you could play the B-notes on the 7th fret of the E-string instead of the 2nd fret of the A-string.

The choice is yours!



The first song on the  Play Bass in 50 Songs – Rock list is Yellow by Coldplay. Paul Wolfe writes:

A nice simple line to get started with.

And so it is. Consisting of only 2 sections and using just 5 notes in total on a straightforward quaver/eighth-note rhythm, this is close to as easy as it gets.

Finbar of finbarbass has a tutorial for Yellow here. However, the way I finger the verse part of the song is shown in the tab that accompanies this play-along by Enrique Cabelo.

The official video for Yellow is here.

And that should be everything you need to master this song’s bass part.

Have fun y’all.

Chunking and Slowing Down

One of the first things I’ve discovered whilst trying to learn new bass lines for songs is that learning them at performance tempo can be really tricky. There are two main reasons for this.

First, there is the issue that it is rare for a bass part for a song to consist of only one line/groove/lick/riff (call it what you will). Stand By Me is a song where that is the case (others include U2’s With or Without You and Bullet the Blue Sky, and Radiohead’s Creep), but most songs have several distinctive sections which together form the bass part. The way to learn these sections is …

… one at a time! Now, the majority of the on-line tutorials I’ve viewed so far do teach song bass-lines in distinct sections, but … and here’s the rub … they usually teach the whole song in one video. Over at  How to Play Bass, Paul Wolfe’s tutorials are an exception to this rule which is why, as a beginner, I’ve found them especially helpful. Paul usually breaks his tutorials into chunks so you can see the intro, verse, chorus, bridge and outro sections for a song in isolation from one another and once you are confident with the various sections, you can link them together.

The second issue with trying to learn at performance tempo is that, for beginners like me, that tempo is too quick. Too often I’ve found myself struggling to keep up with a song that is simply going too fast for me at this stage. What happens then is that I make numerous mistakes, my already poor technique disintegrates further and I find myself tempted to re-enact some of The Who’s infamous instrument smashing exploits. So what to do about that?

The answer is simple and obvious: I need to slow things down. Another feature of Paul Wolfe’s videos is that many of them have the parts played at a slowed-down tempo, as well as at performance tempo. That means that you can play along with Paul while you’re learning – and that’s great.

But what about playing on my own? What can I do to play at a slower, but consistent tempo while I am learning songs? Well, obviously I can play along with a metronome set to whatever tempo I’m comfortable with, but I won’t be doing that on-stage, in Joe’s Garage or wherever. I’ll be playing along with a drummer and some other instruments … and you need to keep time with them, especially the drummer! So how about learning my lines along with a slower-than-performance drum beat? But where might I find such a thing?

Kris Rodgers of Learn Bass has the answer. He’s provided a useful resource for the aspiring bassist (or indeed any other practising instrumentalist): a number of drum rhythms in 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4 time signatures and at a range of tempos from 80 beats per minute upwards. This is where I found them. Thanks Kris.

Naturally, as I get more proficient with the bass-lines that I’m learning, then I move on to a quicker beat until I can play at performance tempo.



Stand By Me


Over at How to Play Bass Paul Wolfe has produced two handy lists of 50 songs which are intended to be a step-by-step route for the beginning bassist to develop their skills with their instrument. The lists are Play Bass in 50 Songs – Rock and Play Bass in 50 Songs – Soul. But which to choose, rock or soul?

As it happens, I can already play a few of the songs on the rock list so, rather than start there, I decided to begin working through the soul list as this would expand my repertoire more quickly.

The first song on Paul’s Play Bass in 50 Songs – Soul is Ben E King’s classic, Stand By Me. Paul says of this song:

A nice simple line to start with that repeats throughout the song.

I couldn’t find a free tutorial on Paul’s site, and I haven’t subscribed to his pay e-zine (yet), but I did find a tutorial for this song by Kris Rodgers here. You can also find it in his lesson tree at Learn Bass – it’s song #2.

There are several videos of Stand By Me on YouTube, so finding one to play along to is pretty straightforward. The one I’ve been playing along to is here.

Whilst speaking about YouTube, if you have an account you could gather together versions of the songs on Paul’s lists (and Kris’s, and any other songs you learn to play) into your own playlist. It’s what I’m doing for the songs that I don’t already have available in other formats.