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Bach on Bass: Cello Suite #1 on Electric Bass

Bach on Bass: Cello Suite #1 on Electric Bass

cello suite Ariane Cap

New playing video playlist: Bach Cello Suite #1 in its entirety

I recently released the entire Bach Cello Suite #1, all seven movements, on youtube. Let me know how you like it, please give a comment and a thumbs up.

Bach is an amazing teacher. Notice how the bass lines weave through the chords… simultaneously, they are marking out a melody as well as a bass line… I don’t know about you, but I see pictures and hear way more than just one instrument when I hear this: there are implied chords, a melody and a bass line. And I can put my attention into either of them and get lost in them. Bach reminds me of fractals, hence the visuals.

Playing Bach does absolute wonders for your playing technique!

Well thought out fingering rules almost every phrase. Economy of motion is super important to get it smooth.

I listened to countless youtube cello interpretations. Personally, I like Bach played with a groovy timing (rather than a very rubato one, after all, this is a baroque suite, a dance piece!). I like my Bach not too romantic with not too much vibrato. Unfortunately we have no recording and can’t ask the man how he intended it.

Are you looking to play Bach pieces, too? I have a few Talking Technique pieces coming up soon. I will post them here, in time, as well. It is a lot about technique, string crossing etc.

Here is the playlist, containing all seven movements of Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G, played on electric bass. I am using my five string Marleaux Consat and go direct into Logic. Dean Markley SR 2000s are a big part of my sound, as are my great new RevSound Cabs and TC Electronic HeadsWolftrackaudio.com (Wolf Wein) did the sound. No pedals were used (or harmed!) in the making of this video, but Wolf applied reverb and fabfilter in post.

Enjoy, share, and like!

PS: Thank you for many comments and questions. Here the most common ones:

  • Which score did I use? Schirmer Library Cello score. #1 uses bass clef exclusively, so if you don’t read cello clef, you are good.
  • Is there TAB? I don’t have tab, sorry. Creating your own is a killer learning exercise! Go for it!
  • Free scores? Yes. Download Suite #1
  • How to adapt to bass? Not much needs adapting. I used harmonics for a few sustained notes, tapping in one of the slow movements to get all the notes in and I spread out the ending chord of the Prelude with harmonics because I preferred the sound. I encourage you to make it your own by looking to stay as closely to the original as possible. Consistent thought out fingering is key. Add harmonics, open strings and tapping on spots where needed.
  • And a tip: for an easy way to get your feet wet with some Bach, try this! In this Talking Technique Episode I transcribed a fairly accessible Bach piano piece, adapted it for bass and recorded it so you can take over the left hand or right hand and play in a duet with me in the video. Enjoy!
  • Got any other resources, Ari? YES!! I just recently got contacted by this cool Bach bass website on the Bach Cello Suites on bass! Check it out!



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13 Replies to “Bach on Bass: Cello Suite #1 on Electric Bass”

  1. Bourrée in E minor was my 1st audition for college in 1971. A College that had no electric bass program. I was accepted to this fine institution. I did retain a love for Bach on Bass however.

    1. Awesome piece. Sorry it did not work out back then, but electric was (and still is in some places!) a tough sale. Or was it upright? In any event, you can play and learn anything you want now, so go for it!

  2. Great job! Isn’t it amazing that music written for instruments tuned in fifths flows on our basses. I love your ornamentation! Try the last movement of the Gm violin Sonata. Except for a couple of licks, the music feels like it was written for the bass. Bach fits whatever instrument you play; even the banjo (Bela Fleck)

    1. Means a ton to get your thumbs up, Bratschenova! I know you live and breathe this style. And yeah, Bach works anywhere, so cool 🙂

  3. Well I tried to leave a brief comment and I was prompted to be more verbose..My original comment was” A beautiful Performance. Much appreciate the skill involved and wonderful articulation and feeling.

    1. Thank you for your nice comment. Sorry wordpress is so adamant on character count, and I appreciate you prevailing 🙂

  4. I am a self taught Bass player learning this on a 4 string, (transcription purchased online) I love this piece. You are the first Bass player I have seen to play the entire Suite or any part of it Awesome ! I need a lot of work I look forward to your talking points.


    1. Hi Paul, awesome, go for it! Consistebt fingering is one thing I recommend. Find what works and stick with it. Happy shedding!

  5. Best I have heard on electric bass. And you play it all!!! You hit the chords dead on. Not at all easy on bass guitar!!!

  6. Hi, Ari,
    I like your dancing approach as well as the rubato stuff, both great exercises.
    Question, I downloaded this in a cello site and it’s not quite laid out for bassoelectro-profundo, so where did you get yours? Or did you go all Dumbledore and transcribe yourself? Yikes! Help us lowly (bass pun intended) mortals reach for these Bach plums!

    1. Hi John, I used the original cello score and adapted only a few notes out of the lot (a few harmonics here and there because it is nice when they sustain and the last chord of the prelude sounded more open with harmonics, things of that sort). The edition I used is this one. I am addintg it to the resource section of this blog as well. Here is a decent free score (it says it is all six but it is not, it is #1 with all movements).

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