Jazz Comping: Leave Room For Your Bassist

jazz compingDo you want to learn an important jazz comping technique?

Do you know how to adjust your comping voicings when you’re playing with a bassist?

In this video lesson you’ll learn how to adjust your chord voicings so when you’re comping with a bassist you’re not stepping on their range. 

Your bassist will give you lots of love if you can stay out of their way when you’re playing together. These chords will make you and your bassist sound so much better. Watch this 4 minute vid to get started!

Jazz Comping: Playing With A Bassist Video Tutorial

Don’t miss out! Make sure that you keep scrolling down. Below I’ve given you vital tips to help you pick up and master this jazz comping technique.

Know These Vital Jazz Comping Tips!

#1 Where You Play Your Chords Is Key

jazz compingAs a rule of thumb, when playing with a bassist, pay special attention to where you’re playing your chords.

In general, you’ll want to play voicings that are toward the center of the keyboard.

Let the bass player handle the low end.

If you notice yours voicings are creeping a little too low on the keyboard move your voicings to the middle.

Let’s write out an example of this together.

Ex. 1: Take a nice lush solo piano C chord. A full C6/9 chord will work just fine.

Written out this is: Left Hand – (C G E) Right Hand – (A D G)

This voicing is great but it’s got a lot of lower frequencies in it.

This can get in the way of the bass player. You don’t want to play a ton of low notes while your bass player is also playing low notes.

So, to fix this voicing issue lets rebuild this voicing toward the middle of the piano.

  • To do this you’ll, play the 3rd and the 6th in your left hand, (E A).
  • With your right hand you’ll be playing the 9th, 5th, and the root on top, (D G C).

We maintained the integrity and main sound of the voicing but now it’s out of the bass player’s way.

jazz compingDid you notice how the chord sounds far more open than before?

This is a good thing. You’re now leaving room for your bassist to breath.

Their low end will add in any of the extra richness that has been removed…

The voicing I mentioned above is a great comping voicing for a C6/9 chord.

Let’s rearrange another solo piano chord for comping with a bassist…

Now Check Out This Type Of Voicing

Ex. 2: – Play this nice full solo piano D7(13, #11, 9) chord.

Written out this is: Left Hand – (D F#) Right Hand – (B C E G# B)

This voicing sounds fantastic for a solo pianist. But if a bass player was walking a bassline below you it would potentially get in their way.  

So, move your voicing toward the middle.

  • To turn this into a comp chord, play just the 3rd and flat 7th in your left hand, (F#, C)
  • Now, your right hand is playing the 9th, #11, and 13th, (E G# B).

You’re keeping the overall sound of the chord intact while leaving room for your bass player to fill in below.

#2: Make Sure You’re Using The Right Voicings.

jazz compingSo, what kind of voicings should you use for jazz comping?

There are hundreds of them and some really great formulas for building captivating comping skills.

Learn a ton more voicings that will work great as solo piano or comping chords in this program here —> The Premium Jazz Lessons Membership Course.

Not only will you learn the best pro jazz piano voicings but you’ll also learn how to play them inside the best jazz piano standards in the world.

#3: This Is Always A Safe Bet…

Something that is common for a bassist to do is play the root of the chords on beat 1.

Since the bass player is taking care of the root you’re free to cover the other chord tones. That’s why rootless voicings can sound really nice when playing with a bass player.

You may have noticed that the 2 chords broken down in this tutorial become rootless chords when comping appropriately for a bassist.

You should certainly check out this Autumn Leaves chords lesson. Inside this tutorial I break down 10 more rootless chord voicings for jazz piano comping with a quartet…

4 More Helpful Hints To Grow Your Comping Skills…

#1 – Which Scales Do You Know?  

jazz compingBeing able to build any scale in any key is an important element for building comping shapes.

Especially when you start applying the modes in high hand comping shapes. 

And it will definitely help you grow your jazz theory skills.

That’s why we taught “how to apply scales in comping” in the comping chapters inside The Breakthrough Blues Method DVD.

#2 – How Improvisation Will Help Your Comping

The more you can develop your improv skills the more ideas you can bring into your comping.

This is because comping is a conversation and a balance between you and the other musicians you’re playing with. 

Which is why it’s important to have lots of tools and spices to “cook with” when you’re comping and improvising.

Knowledge of scales, voicings, licks, and developing more advanced improv techniques is how you’ll express yourself more freely.

And if you want to access a huge collection of improvisation tools we have a course that features improvisation techniques of the great jazz masters. You can check out this  jazz improvisation program right here.

#3 – How To Maximize Your Practice

jazz compingEven when you’re just working on jazz comping you still want to be thinking big picture in the practice room.

Approach every practice session with the intent of becoming a better all around musician.

The idea is to take 1 simple concept your learn and then learn how to apply it to your larger musical goals. This is how you can get 10 hours of results from just 1 hour of practice.

It’s strategic thinking and smart practice. We talk about this more in my article on how to become a better musician.

 #4 – How To Seriously Get Your Rhythm Skills Together

Knowing the theory behind jazz comping techniques and actually applying them in real time are two different animals.

So, it’s a great idea to seek out other musicians (especially bass players to jam with) to help your playing grow.

The best way to really grow your jazz comping chops is to play with other musicians!

jazz compingNow, what If you don’t have a great bass player or a drummer available to you to practice with?

Don’t worry! We have pro bass & drum jam tracks available that you can jam with 24 hours a day inside this program here —> https://www.freejazzlessons.com/premium

This is very powerful stuff if you like to practice in the comfort of your own home and you want to explore and build awesome skills in private.

Now that you have a great foundation to start your jazz comping practice. Let’s take a look at where you should take your piano playing next…

Where To Take Your Piano Learning From Here

jazz compingMy passion is to help you grow into an amazing jazz pianist.

This lesson on jazz comping is just a sliver of all this site has to offer you…

Need help with your rhythm? Check out this article on how to improve your piano rhythm. Make sure that your not making these common mistakes…

Or, perhaps you’re looking for more scales to learn. You should definitely look into this pentatonic scales piano tutorial. This is a must know scale for all levels of jazz pianists.

Maybe you’re wondering how to build better piano practice habits? This post gives you a behind the scenes look at my practice habits and what influences you can use!

No matter what you do next make sure you’re checking back into the site frequently. We are regularly posting new and exciting tutorials for you to learn and explore.

Until next time, enjoy your practice. If you have any questions about this lesson and the video tutorial above please leave your comments in the comments section below.

Steve Nixon