ChatGPT’s Bass Secrets: 5 Progressions Every Player Should Master

Being a one man operation can sometimes be tough so I called in ChatGPT for some help in this latest bass lesson. I asked:

  • What chord progressions should bass players know?

The five answers were actually pretty good!

So here are some of the most essential chord progressions that every bassist, beginner or seasoned, should have in their toolkit.

Whether you're jamming in your bedroom, recording in a studio, or playing live, these progressions are your key to unlocking profound musical conversations across a variety of genres.

Before we delve into the specifics, check out the video below where I demonstrate each of these progressions, providing tips on technique, timing, and feel.

To further aid your practice, I've included four backing tracks covering all progressions. These tracks are designed to help you get a feel for each progression and apply what you've learned in a musical context.

1. The ii-V-I Progression

Arguably the most common chord progression in jazz music, the ii-V-I is essential for developing bass lines that navigate through jazz standards with ease.

In the Key of C Major: Dm7 - G7 - CMaj7

For those looking to add a sophisticated jazz flair to their playing, getting comfortable with this progression is key.

Famous Example: "Autumn Leaves" by Joseph Kosma and Johnny Mercer. "Autumn Leaves" is a jazz standard that beautifully utilizes the ii-V-I progression throughout the song. It's a favorite among jazz musicians for its harmonic richness and is a great piece for understanding how this progression works in practice.

2. The I-IV-V Progression

The backbone of rock, blues, and country music, this progression's simplicity is deceptive. It's incredibly versatile and allows for numerous stylistic interpretations.

In the Key of G Major: G - C - D

Exploring this progression can open up a vast landscape of rock and blues for any bass player.

Famous Example: "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is a rock and roll anthem that is built around the I-IV-V progression. This song demonstrates the progression's energy and drive, making it a staple in the rock genre.

3. The I-vi-IV-V Progression

Known as the '50s progression, it has been widely used in doo-wop and ballads, offering a nostalgic journey back to the golden age of rock and roll.

In the Key of C Major: C - Am - F - G

Perfect for those looking to capture the classic sound of the '50s and '60s in their playing.

Famous Example: "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King". Stand By Me" uses the I-vi-IV-V progression to create its timeless and memorable melody. This song is a classic example of how the progression has been used in doo-wop and ballads.

4. The vi-IV-I-V Progression

A common staple in pop music, this progression provides a slightly melancholic feel that's perfect for expressive melodies and heartfelt grooves.

In the Key of G Major: Em - C - G - D

A must-know for bassists aiming to add depth and emotion to pop and rock tunes.

Famous Example: "Someone Like You" by Adele. Adele's "Someone Like You" is a contemporary example of the vi-IV-I-V progression. The emotional depth of the song is enhanced by this progression, demonstrating its effectiveness in pop music.

5. BONUS: The 12-Bar Blues Progression

A staple in blues music, this progression is also foundational in rock, jazz, and country. It typically uses I, IV, and V chords. For those starting out or looking to refine their blues chops, mastering this progression is a must.

In the Key of E: E7 - A7 - B7

As a bonus, I've previously covered the 12-Bar Blues Progression in detail in this blog post. Dive in for a comprehensive breakdown and another free backing track to practice with!

The Key To Mastery Is Practice

Experiment with these progressions in different keys to improve your familiarity and versatility on the bass guitar. Whether you're laying down the groove in a jazz ensemble, driving the rhythm in a rock band, or crafting soulful blues lines, these progressions will enrich your musical vocabulary and enhance your bass playing.

Keep grooving, and I'll see you in the next lesson!

Related Bass Guitar Lessons

Want to hear about my next free bass lessons? 

  • Stay up to date with one bass lesson every day: sign up to my free newsletter (form below)
  • I'll send you The Bass Guitar Resource Book for free which contains tons of important and useful bass information
  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel to improve your bass playing
Online Bass Courses Dan Hawkins Bass Store

If you get any value from my lessons and would like to help keep this site running and the weekly lessons flowing, click the button below for a small donation. Even something small really helps me cover running costs!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}