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to the Gospel Bass Vocabulary Vol. 1.

In this package, you are going to be provided with a collection of 20 carefully selected

gospel bass influenced fills, whether they are found in gospel tracks or played by musicians

who grew up and/or were influenced by gospel music and churches.

As a musician, it is always important to learn from other genres of music as it can greatly

develop your playing style and versatility. Because many gospel musicians rely on their

musical ear and are not strong readers, many of the licks and fills remain unexamined and

are not put onto paper. The goal of the gospel bass vocabulary series is to expand your

vocabulary with gospel influenced licks and fills, whilst capturing the wonderful examples

down on paper. All examples will be broken down so that you will be able to implement

them in your playing, pulling out ‘the sauce’ where appropriate.

All examples include a bass clef transcription, audio and video to show you the lick and how

it sounds in a stripped back context so you really get a feel for the lick. It is also for you to

refer back to when you are in need of some ‘sauce’ to add to your playing, tracks and any

other musical venture that you see fit. The transcriptions should be used in conjunction with

the video and then use the backing tracks to work on the licks.

You can follow me on Instagram @the_official_c and check out my Facebook page at or my website at

Enjoy volume 1 of the Gospel Bass Vocabulary and please go ahead and send in suggestions

for volume 2!
Lick 001

The first example comes from bassist Al Kelly, originally playing over ‘I Will Bless The Lord’.

The lick is over the main chord progression which is a ii – IV – iii –vi in the key of Gb major.

As you will discover in this book, many of the gospel bass influenced licks are based around

pentatonic scales and the use of sixteenth notes and syncopation.

This is partially because pentatonic scales rarely get in the way of the vocals and are also a

very fluid shape for moving around the fretboard on the bass guitar. The lick starts over the

IV chord and moves up the Gb major pentatonic scale, starting from the V (Db). When you

hit the high Eb, you hold it and play an Ab over the top, creating a double stop a fourth

apart and then hammer on to the F. The Ab acts as the b7 of the iii chord, whilst the Eb

hammering on to the F is the 4th moving up to the 5th of the iii chord, this creates a quick

build and release of tension in the line before it moves back down the pentatonic scale and

chromatically approaches the ii chord again.

Lick 002

This example is again from Al Kelly and from the same song. It applies a similar concept to

the first lick but remains lower down in the register of the bass and is made up of consistent

sixteenth notes. Starting on the second note of the Gb major pentatonic (Ab), going up the

Gb and then reaching down to the major 7th. This adds some more colour to the pentatonic

scales and leads the ear to the direction that the line is moving in. it then moves back down

the pentatonic scale and repeats the major 7th movement in the lower octave before

coming back up for the chromatic approach to the ii chord.

Lick 003

Lick 003 is from the highly revered Sharay Reed, one of the giants in the gospel bass world.

This lick comes from a clinic where they are playing over a track called ‘Thank You’ in Bb.

The progression is a ii – iii – IV – IV. Sharay places this lick perfectly. The lick comes in during

the iii chord and hits a G as the IV chord lands. This is the 3rd of the IV chord. The G is held as

the major 7th of the chord is played and chromatically descends down to the major 6, before

hitting the root of the chord, hinting at a maj7add13 chord. What works so well about this

lick is the use of the higher register and the creation of tension that is then released halfway

through the bar, before moving to the V chord. The final bar included here shows how

Sharay constructs a lick to pull the ear from the V chord to the ii by using the natural minor
scale to imply the vi chord, which is the V chord of the ii chord to which the song is moving


Lick 004

Another lick from Sharay Reed. This gospel bass vocabulary could not be done without

including this lick. This lick was played over ‘Joy to the world’ in the key of D, played by

Sharay at a gospel jam session in Chicago. Here he makes use of the low B string, a common

ingredient to the gospel bass sound. The progression just resolves to the I chord for a bar

and then moves back into the ii – vi progression. Again, the major pentatonic scale is used to

ascend up and back down the fretboard. When the ii chord hits, he plays the b7, root, back

down to b7, the 5 and hits a #4, and walks down diatonically from the natural 4 to the root

of ii chord. From there he makes use of the minor scale to move to the vi chord.

Lick 005

This lick was played by Sharay Reed, outside of a gospel context with Corey Henry and the

Apostles. The lick makes good use of contrast between the high and low register of the bass

guitar. It is a great lick to use after a strong resolution to the I chord. It is over a static I

chord and uses large intervallic jumps. Starting at a low E and jumps up to the G# on the 13th

fret of the G string. The line then using intervals a perfect 5th apart, minor 6th apart, and

perfect fourth before continuing the syncopated line and moving to the big slide from the

1st fret of the low B string.

Lick 006

From the church, City of Refuge, the bass player, Bryan ‘B Dub’ White pulls out some gold

over ‘I will Bless the Lord’ in the key of Gb. No doubt he will feature again in the gospel bass

vocabulary series. This lick comes out of a section that is vamping over a IV chord, so pull
this lick out over a IV chord vamp to change it up and build some tension. The progression

features double stops a fourth apart, commonly used in gospel. This type of lick is a great

way to through in some gospel sauce to your playing. It is further enhanced by the use of

the b7 on the second bar of the lick. That will really turn a head – make sure to tap into your

musicianship here and time it appropriately as it has a very strong sound and is not suited

for every occasion.

Lick 007

This is a lick played by Jason Cuihe over Marvin Sapp’s ‘Rivers Flow’ in the key of Eb. It is

played over a vi chord and can easily be taken and put into other songs as it is diatonic and

has a strong resolution to the IV chord, which the song progresses to. The line makes use of

the natural minor scale and moves down the major pentatonic of the IV chord, hitting the

7th of the chord on its way down.

Lick 008

This lick is played over a b7 chord by Shawn Davis of B.On.It Productions in their 2014

Strange Arrange Performance in the key of Eb. It makes use of the major 7th of the chord

and ends on the #4 before resolving in the song. This hints at the Lydian sound over the b7

major chord. This is a great lick to throw in to song with a b7 chord if you are looking to add

emphasize the chord. The backing track lets you hear the lick resolve to both a I chord and vi

chord, to give you an idea of where you might place it.

Lick 009

This lick comes from Mono Neon’s tribute to the Clark Sister’s on the Bass Sessionz Vol. 1 in

the key of Eb. This lick over a I –V walking progression commonly found in gospel. This is a

great lick to bank if you ever have a I – V vamp with a swung feel and want to some ‘sauce’

to it. The lick makes use of the 9th and 7th of the I chord and the blues and Dorian scale over

the V.

Lick 010

A lick from Thaddeus Tribbet at the BRL conference. This lick was played over a I chord that

will move to the IV chord on the next bar. This lick is a great example of moving arpeggios

along with chord extensions for added colour. The first part is a first inversion on the one

chord, hitting the 9th before moving up the major pentatonic and playing the first inversion

up the octave. The lick finishes on the V to lead smoothly into the IV chord. Play this lick

over a held one chord that is going to move to a I, IV, or vi chord for strong resolutions and

voice leading.

Lick 011

This beast of a lick was played by Al Kelly over a static major chord in Doobie Powell’s Praise

Break. It will work well with a static IV or b7 major chord. It combines the major pentatonic

with chord tones and makes effective use of triplets over a straight feel. By starting the lick

with 8th notes, it creates a great turn of pace within the lick and adds a sense of

unpredictability along with the intervallic jumps back up the pentatonic scale.

Lick 012

This lick is in the key of Bb major over God Great God by Kurt Karr, played by Joe Cleveland.

It is over a iii-IV-V chord progression and uses repetition of notes to good effect in this line.

It remains diatonic and focuses on the major pentatonic with the major 7th thrown in. It is a

sweet lick that fits well over the progression.

Lick 013

This lick is by Thaddeus Johnson on the Kierra Sheard ‘United as One’ tour. This is over Mary

Mary’s ‘It’s the God In Me’ in the key of Eb. It uses a combination of the natural minor scale

and the pentatonic scale (minor pentatonic when viewing the vi chord as the root). This lick

works especially well when going to a b7 chord because it is a semitone away, but will work

well in most transitions in a song provided you alter your approach to the next chord.

Lick 014

This is another lick by Thaddeus Johnson, this time on the James Fortune Tour. The lick is

played over the vi chord, however only the root is played at this point so Thaddeus hints at

the Mixolydian scale using the major 3rd and b7 which then moves into a blues scale run

before touching the major 3rd again. As vi chords are usually minor this lick should be used

with care but will have a very strong pull on the listener’s ear as they are expecting to hear a

minor tonality over that root note.

Lick 015

This lick is played by Young Chuck over Kiki Sheard’s Victory in the key of A major. The lick

can be played over a vi chord. It hits the minor 3rd of the vi chord before using the major

pentatonic scale with intervallic jumps at the end of each phrase. It is a tasteful lick to spice

up a repetitive progression. It makes effective use of rests and phrasing to build a powerful

run, starting and ending on the 3rd beat of the bar.

Lick 016 1.56

This lick comes from J Moss’ ‘Praise on the inside’ in the key of C. this is a slow tempo song

(63bpm) and the lick plays over a iii chord that will move to the vi. This a great lick to put in

a iii – vi progression. By playing the b7 and major 3rd of the iii chord, it implies a dominant

chord and creates a stronger resolution to the vi chord because the iii chord is now acting as

a dominant V in relation to the vi chord. The repetitive use of the major 3rd over the D is

strong and creates the tri-tone sound commonly heard in gospel.

Lick 017 6:14

This Lick is from a track by Ricky Dillard and New G, ‘Amazing’ in the key of Db. It is over a vi

– ii progression and can be played over a ii chord. The line features a low Bb. In gospel it is

common for the bass players to make use of extended range and an in this case it is likely

that the bass was tuned to A standard. It’s a great little trick that means you can drop notes

that are not often expected on the bass guitar and catch the listener’s ear!

Lick 018 1:57

This lick comes from the song ‘God can’ by Andrea McClurkin and is in the key of Db. It is

over a V chord and can be used over a V chord for added sauce to a track. It moves from the

major pentatonic of the V chord to the major pentatonic of the I chord so this lick will also

work great on a V – I progression. It also sits well under the hands so it is great for when you

want fluidity in your lines.

Lick 019 2:24

This lick comes from ‘You Are God Alone’ by William McDowell, in the key of G. it is over the

I chord that moves to a vii chord. The lick plays the chord tones of the I chord, moving down

the fretboard and uses the perfect 4th as a passing tone to the 3rd of the I chord before

landing on the 7th as the chord progression changes on the same beat. It is a great lick for

ballads and other slow tempo songs as it does not detract from the lead melody.

Lick 020 2:34

This lick is from ‘I’m Yours’ by Casey J in the key of Db. It is over a ii chord and can be used as

such. The last note Eb leads into the iii chord as it is the root of the ii chord, so alter the lick

accordingly to best suit the song you are playing. The lick accentuates the chord tones and

the 9th of the ii chord for more colour and voice leading to the 3rd of the chord.