Bass Transcription: Bruno Mars – Runaway Baby

Taken from Bruno Mars’ breakthrough 2010 record Doo-Wops & Hooligans, ‘Runaway Baby’ blends the singer’s trademark soulful pop sound with rock influences; the song is anchored by a unison blues scale riff that instantly recalls Cream (‘Sunshine of Your Love‘, ‘Crossroads’) and Jimi Hendrix (‘Fire’).

Whilst the musical content of the song is pretty straightforward, the challenge lies in how to approximate the bass parts from a heavily-produced commercial pop recording in real life. The transcription doesn’t reflect everything played by the bass on the recording, but rather an arrangement that works in a live environment with a smaller band setup.

Bruno Mars – Runaway Baby Bass Transcription PDF

As with many tunes that sit in the key of Eb, there are a few options for achieving the lower octave on a 4-string bass:

• Detune by a semitone and play the chart a semitone higher (as if it’s in E)

• Use an octave pedal and play the chart up an octave

The other option, of course, is to use a 5-string bass – this may or may not be possible depending on your resources.

As I’m not keen on detuning and generally take a 4-string bass to almost every function gig I do (lots of bandleaders get funny if you show up with something that doesn’t say ‘Fender’ on the headstock) I’ve opted to play part of ‘Runaway Baby’ with an octave pedal to make sure that I can still recreate the low end rumble on the track.

The octave pedal settings are visible in the play along video – I went with a 50/50 blend of the wet and dry signals to prevent things from getting too mushy; having the higher octave present in the mix helps the notes to cut through, particularly in the arpeggio figure of the final chorus (bars 55-58).