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Blues Guitar Institute

How to Play a Ragtime Bass Run

When you think of Blind Blake, what comes to mind?

For me, it’s the incredible rhythmic pulse laid under a beautiful, crisp and snappy melody. The same thing comes to mind when I think of Blind Boy Fuller. No doubt that both had an incredible fingerboard prowess and could baffle any on-looker with their incredible ability to bring a clean melody and driving bass-line together on one guitar.

But lately, I’ve been listening a little deeper to these guys and noticed something a little different. From time to time, they both break the melody of the song and tear into a sweet little bass lick.

Check out the intro to Fuller’s ‘Mamie’ to hear what I mean.

After listening to this, hopefully you’ll want a ragtime bass run to use in your playing. In this lesson, I’ll show you a quick bass lick to work in your acoustic blues repertoire.

Ragtime Bass Run Video Lesson


Watch on YouTube | Grab the TAB – PDF | Guitar Pro

Performance Notes

This lick works great in the context of a ragtime tune in the key of C.  Specifically, when you change from a C chord to an F chord.

The key to nailing this lick is tied to an understanding of the triplet rhythm that the lick is built upon. A great way to do that is to break down this one-bar lick into groups of three notes as seen in the video.

The picking hand’s role in this lick can’t be ignored. I play this mostly with my thumb which requires a  quick down-stroke at a steady pace. Set your metronome to a comfortable speed and work up to speedier tempo.

With practice, this lick will work nicely in your acoustic blues.

When you are ready, there are two ways I can help you:

Back Porch Blues Course:  A proven system to fingerpicking the blues.  This step-by-step course guides you through building fundamental fingerpicking skills.  Plus, you’ll learn three levels of a delta blues style performance study to put your new skills into action.

Become a myBGI Member: Membership comes with access to Back Porch Blues plus over 70 step-by-step courses.  Get proven results with one of myBGI’s structured Roadmaps.

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