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Jazz Bass Soloing: Soloing Over A 2-5-1 Chord Progression

In previous lessons, we have looked at creating a solid walking bass line to fulfill our supporting role in a jazz ensemble. The bass also has a rich history as a solo instrument in Jazz. From the blues inflected double bass solos of Ray Brown to the electric bass bebop of Jeff Berlin. Soloing can be a daunting prospect so it helps to break a piece down in to manageable chunks.

We hear a lot about the 2 5 1 chord sequence in jazz. Below, you can find a PDF explaining exactly what this means. This sequence appears in the majority of jazz standards so it is worth spending time on. I have included 2 lines that work over this sequence and you should play them in all 12 keys and with your own rhythmic variations. This will help you hear the sound of the 2 5 1, learn the chord sequence in all of the keys and improve your knowledge of the neck.

The lines are built around arpeggios and notes from the relevant scale. For example, if the 2 5 1 is in the key of C, all of the notes are from the C major scale.

In the next lesson we’ll include non scale notes for a more ‘out’ sound.

numbering system major scale steps

Download the example sheet here: explaining-the-numbering-system

2-5-1 bass clef example

Download the example sheet here: 2 5 1 Line – Bass Clef

2-15 bass clef walking bass line example 2

Download the example sheet here: 2 5 1 Line – Bass Clef (2)


Visit John’s personal site for more  lessons, tips and information about bass guitar and his own bass guitar lesson site, Bass Guitar Course. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnmarleybass