Finger Picking: Comping to a walking bass line

This lesson will show you how to play a walking bass line accompanied by little chords. This is a 12 bar blues progression in Bb with a swing feel to it.

To play this, you will use your thumb (P) to play the bass line and your index (I) and middle (M) fingers to pluck the chords.

Work on this slowly. Once you have learned it, work on speed and also try to interpret it differently.

The fingerings indicated above and below the tab represents how I feel most comfortable playing this progression. I suggest that you start with these fingerings but modify them to suit your own style if you find them too awkward.

TIP: Whenever you see 2 notes together in this progression, like the 6 and 7 on top of each other in the first bar, think of those notes plus the note just before it as a chord. Learn these chords and the progression becomes much easier.

Click on the diagram for an MP3 audio example.

(If the tab image is not rendering nicely on your browser, right mouse click on it and choose the save image option. Save it to your desktop and open it there. It will display just fine and you can print it for reference.)

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  1. I have been playing for 30+ years firgerstyle guitar, having started with classical guitar, but during the 3-5 last years I have switched to fingerstyle acoustic guitar, playing various Andy McKee, Don Ross, Michael Hedges, Steve Howe stuff. I have to say that this is a very nice fingerstyle exercise which of course stands also as a nice jazzy walking base piece, through which the player can improvise and express his/her playing. I really liked the walking bass idea with the shortly-listened chords in between, which constitutes a very nice drill for the left hand that is ‘forced’ to continually change positions due to the walking bass. Also, it gives a new dimension to the sound of the acoustic guitar I am used to listening.

    Thanks and keep with the nice content you have in your site!!


    • Thanks Basil!

      I appreciate your kind words 🙂

      It is a fun piece to learn. Love the players you mention!
      I used to play almost all the Yes songs. Howe was a big influence on me 🙂



  2. You used to play the Yes songs in the electric guitar? Yes group, one of my musical great Loves of my life. Especially their first albums in the 70’s, like ‘Fragile’, ‘Topographic Oceans’, ‘Yes Album’, ‘Relayer’.
    Regarding Steve Howe, I have played a few pieces from a sheet book with solo guitar pieces of his, ‘Steve Howe Guitar Pieces’. I have had it for many years, now.

    • Hi Basil,

      Indeed. I played in bands years ago that covered some Yes. We did Close To The Edge, Heart Of The Sunrise, Siberian Khatru, Roundabout and Yours Is No Disgrace from the Yes Album.

      A few years ago, I revisited some of my older acoustic favorites and just for fun recorded 2 of them.

      The Ancient – From Tales Of Topographic Oceans

      Horizons – by another great player, Steve Hacket from Genesis.

      Have a listen and let me know what you think.

      I don’t have the book you mention. I will have to look for it!


      • Hi Gil, I’ve just read your comment 11 years later! well done the tracks still sound great :)) Any chance you have tabs for these? To study these classic tunes will transition my practice to another level…


  3. Nicely and balanced played, the songs you recorded.
    Regarding the Steve Howe book, this contains solo guitar pieces that can be played with flatpick or fingerstyle – I play some of them fingerstyle, among which the ‘Clap’ as well.

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