12th Nov 2020

Five Top Bass Books


These five books have been invaluable to me since I first started playing the bass guitar...  


As a lot of you are probably thinking about gifts for Christmas and might be wondering what to tell people if they ask you for a present idea, I thought it might be a good time to recommend a few bass books that might help you with your bass playing .

These are all books that I have used in the past and have got a lot of good use out of.  I must admit that I have brought a fair amount of bass books which did not turn out as good as I expected or that I simply did not end up using.  So hopefully these recommendations will save you this problem!

Book 1 - The Bass Bible by Paul Westwood

Bass Book by Paul Westwood

I brought this book back in the late 90's when it first came out.  I used it all the time to develop my technique and learn about the role of the bass in many different styles of music.  

I still dip into the book every now and then when I am looking for something specific about a certain style bass line.

It is fundamentally 285 pages of grooves and exercises with hardly any text.  It really is a bass bible.

Paul Westwood is a well-known teacher in the UK and has a serious CV to boot so he definitely knows what he is talking about.

Out of the five books that I recommend in this article, this is probably the all-rounder that will appeal to most.

Standard Notation & Tab  

Book 2 - Standing in The Shadows Of Motown

Standing In The Shadows Of Motown Bass Book

This is another book that I dip in and out of periodically.  

It contains the bass lines of Motown's most famous bass player, James Jamerson.  The added bonus is that the bass lines are presented and played by other famous bass players such as Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Rocco Prestia, Will Lee, Paul McCartney, John Entwistle, and more.

James Jamerson's playing style was very unique and his bass lines are the integral part of so many hits.  He is well worth studying, and the bass lines are a lot of fun to play.

A word of warning though, there is no Tab.  But this has actual been the reason behind a few of my students learning to read music.  Just so they can play this book!  I am not 100% sure that a Tab version is still not available, but it wasn't when this book first came out.

Standard Notation

Book 3 - Basslines by Joe Hubbard

walking bass pattern from C7 to Fmaj7

This book contains transcriptions of bass lines by Mark King, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Jaco Pastorius.

Although the cover says it is an insight into 'slap bass', there are also finger-style bass lines from King and Pastorius.

There are some real classics in here including Dune Tune, Hot Fun, Run For Cover, Come On, Come Over and Teen Town. Most of the bass lines are pretty demanding though and are not for the faint-hearted! I just learnt the easy ones or the easy sections at first. 

Standard Notation

Book 4 - Jazz Bass by Ed Friedland

This is an excellent book if you want to start working on your jazz walking bass lines.

It is not too complicated and gets you started playing roots first, and then builds on that by adding specific walking techniques.

You then move onto looking at the different forms of jazz including Jazz Blues, Latin, Latin/Swing, and ballads.

I used this book a lot when I first started exploring jazz and learnt a lot from it.  Ed Friedland is a great educator and I particularly rate his resources on jazz bass.

Standard Notation

Book 5 - The Improvisor's Bass Method by Chuck Sher