Bass Guitar Chords

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If you know your basic scales, you may be wondering where to go from there. After all, scales are the foundations of all music right? If scales are the foundation of music, chords are the first bricks laid upon the mortar. Now, when you teach yourself bass guitar, it should be an awesome experience and a fun one as well. If you are a relatively new bassist, the single most challenging thing to learn is to make your fingers obey the motions you want them to. In this section of bass guitar chords tutorials, we will be touching on several aspects of music harmony and techniques. If you do not have any basic knowledge of music theory or you are not even able to fret single notes properly, go back to the other sections of the website first. The topics covered here are slightly more advanced and you need to have some proper foundations to avoid frustrations. For the rest of you guys, you might also be wondering. What is a bass chord? Why do I need to learn how to play chords on the bass guitar? I would like to address this by saying that most bassists don't typically play alot of chords by themselves during a piece of music. The bass guitar is a "support" instrument and your role is to complete the harmony in a band or ensemble.

In short, your usual duty as a bassist when jamming with other musicians is to play one of the notes that forms the chord harmony in the band. This is where your knowledge in music theory of bass chords comes in. Sometimes, bassists are not told what to specific music notes to play but rather only informed of the chord progressions or key that a piece of music is in. In such scenarios, you are expected to play the bass to complement and support the overall music across the music progression. Of course, you could be given sheet music or bass chord charts to create your own basslines or improvisation across chord progressions. To do all this, you need to have some basic knowledge of bass chord formations and music theory. With a good grasp of the tools and knowledge in your mind and guitar, only then can you play the bass guitar to your full potential.

for the note B. start off be playing your E string open. and have fun. but it isn’t necessary. Now. and G. Major chords are upbeat chords with large tonal properties. This is because triads are the roots of all chords. . You can play the open G string as well. the G Major has a chord with a powerful quality. Now fret the second note of your D string for the note E. we will discuss some of the most basic major chords on bass guitar. you are playing a G Major chord. E. with G as the lowest sounding note. Next up is the A Major chord. Next. only a grouping of notes. play the D string as an open note. fret the first fret of your G string for the note G#. start off by fretting the third fret of your A string to achieve the note C. start off by playing your E string fretted on the third fret for the note G. Many musicians tend to mistake the C Major chord for a minor chord. Keep your intervals in mind. and a fifth. They all are built off of a triad. Many musicians tend to use the G Major in acoustic pieces. the major chords. you will need to learn some chords. play your A string on the second fret. Some are only the triad. To play the E Major chord. As long as you have the basic G Major triad. So long as you have the notes C. consisting of the notes G. First off is E Major. and try experimenting with creating your own bass guitar triads. fret the second fret of you’re a string for the note B. The triad within the E Major chord consists of the notes E. If you study these major chords on bass guitar. B. Keep this in mind. As long as you play these notes together with E as the lowest note. From acoustics to jazz. and B. you may see a similarity between them all. To play the C Major chord. play your G string as an open note. G#. as it is one of the few major chords that have a minor sounding quality. it isn’t a chord. The best place to start is with the most basic of all chords. the E Major chord is favored for its powerful sound and open feel. Finally. this means that they sound big. fret the second fret of your D string for the note E. To play G Major. a third. and D. In this article. you are playing an E Major chord. while others have octaves as well. Our third chord is the C Major chord. C Major is very different from our previous chords. with C as the lowest sounding note. Finally. This is the C Major chord. There is no exception. E Major is one of the most commonly used chords in modern music.Major Chords on Bass Guitar If you want to learn to make your playing sound huge. Just the E Major. Next. If a chord doesn’t have a root. Next. In essence. you are playing a C Major chord.

The G minor chord is one of the largest sounding of all the minor chords. you are still playing the G minor chord. The only difference is one note. it is powerful. Good luck. Use this information to build your own triads on the bass guitar. which will give you the note G.Minor Chords on Bass Guitar If you want to expand your playing. As long as you play these three notes together and the E is the lowest sounding note. Next up is the G minor chord. Next. we will discuss some basic minor chords on bass guitar that will allow you to get a jump start on your chord playing. start off by playing your E string as an open note. play your D string on the second fret for the note E. The only difference is a single note. Our first minor chord is E minor. B. the best way to do so is by learning chords on the bass guitar. and have fun! . play your G string as an open note. Keep in mind that in order to play a traditional chord. Whether you are a beginner or a player just looking to increase your knowledge. To play the G minor chord. Eb. They are almost the same exact chord. play your G string as an open note. only played differently. study them. you will have an E minor chord. Our last chord is the C minor chord. In this article. play the first fret on your D string for the note Eb (Eb and D# are the same note. Finally. chords can not only help you to improve your skills as a player. Once you get the hang of these basic minor chords on bass guitar. but they can help to improve your knowledge of the fret board. You may recognize this chord is the C Major chord. do in part for the same reasons that G Major is one of the most popular chords. skip over your A string. and D. play your A string on the second fret for the note B. Notice that the E minor chord is built off of the triad E. regardless of the inversion. So long as the G is the lowest sounding note. The G minor triad consists of the notes G. Next. start off by playing the third fret on your A string to achieve the note C. we won’t be using it. Next. Finally. Finally. Next. start off by playing the third fret of your low E string. known as enharmonic notes). G. You may notice that they are all made of the same intervals. play your G string on the third fret to achieve the note B. E minor sounds very similar to E Major. and B. and G. the root note should always be the lowest sounding note in order to maintain the chord quality. First. To play the E minor chord. The C minor triad consists of the notes C. You can play these notes together any place on the neck. This is one of the most popular minor chords in minor music. Play your D string as an open note.

This means no sharps. G#. unless altered. D. let’s create a basic tonic (first note in a scale) triad on bass guitar. let’s make a minor triad on our supertonic (second note name of a scale). From our third. a third. A). In a major scale. Triads are the roots of every real chord in music. D. Now. we need to move a further minor third. G. like it sounds. which brings us to E (C#. triads. G. A minor third is basically a reversed major third. This means that our tonic triad is C. and the intervals we learned above. we simply need to travel four half steps. E. If a chord does not contain a root. in all technicalities. F. A. E. A major third consist of four half steps. E. This includes the beloved power chord unfortunately. . let’s create a C Major supertonic triad. Our root will be D. This is our third. That is because the notes E and B have no half steps between themselves and the next note. followed by an interval of a major third. F. Take for instance the key of C Major. we will need to move a minor third. read our article on bass guitar major scales.Creating Bass Guitar Triads In this lesson. seeing as the note C is the first note within the scale C Major. and our supertonic triad is D. First off. F#. F. it is not actually a chord. besides its relative minor. since we know what a triad is. Next. D#. E). F). and B. The second note name of the C Major scale is D. The notes of the C Major scale are C. followed by a minor third. Doing this brings us to G (F. Our root will be C. we will discuss how to create the most common bass guitar chords. it consists of a minor third. the supertonic will always. This makes it the prime key to start off with when learning to create triads. a half of a step between each note. A. From here. Why is it such a basic scale? It contains absolutely no accidentals. which is A minor. If you need to refresh your memory. This is our fifth. which brings us to F (D#. You may have noticed that the note E didn’t have an accidental. G. G). be minor. From the root. Using this information and our above provided intervals. A half step is. This is our third. while a minor third consists of only three half steps. we need to move a further major third. Basic major triads consist of a major third. This is the most basic key in all of music. and a fifth. Using this information. and no flats. we need to discover how they are built. which brings us to the note A (F#.

E. F. Chords can only be built using the notes within the given key. This time. C. If we were to make a tonic C Major triad. we are going to discuss common bass chord patterns. and G. Today. which means it is a total of seven half steps from the root. C. G. a supertonic triad in the key of C Major would consist of the notes D. The first chord shape we will discuss is the C Major chord. we need to discuss scales. bass guitarists tend to limit themselves. E . our total interval equals a perfect fifth. This triad consists of the notes A. This chord has a more delicate and emotional quality to it. After our G. If you don’t yet understand the basic qualities of the Major and minor scales. and the bass is absolutely no exception. Using this equation. the A minor triad is our chord. to complete the chord. powerful sound. This entire interval is a perfect fifth. and E. A basic Major triad is built of a Major third with a minor third stacked on top. the next step is to practice. Basic knowledge of scales and scale properties is essential when constructing chords on any instrument. Our C Major chord should look like this: C. take your time to learn them. A minor triad is built of a minor third with a Major third on top. C Next up is the A minor chord. E. Many bass guitarists limit themselves to simple one note patterns. and A. as most chords are built off of triads. or seven half steps. unlike the C Major chord. The A minor chord is built off of an A minor tonic triad. we must return to the root an octave above it. E. which from above we know consists of the notes C. and G. Our A minor chord should look like this: A. Whether this is intentional or accidental. Like the Major triad. Have fun! Common Chord Patterns to Remember Like all musicians. and create the rest of the basic chords on bass guitar. when bass guitar has an expansive amount of resources available. just like guitar. These chords are some of the most popular chords in modern music. so it is important that you know your scales. it is never an easy habit to break out of. First off. The C Major chord is built off of a tonic C Major triad. these two intervals would lead us to the notes C. and today we are going to learn them on the bass guitar.Now that you know how to make the most basic bass guitar triads. This chord involves an octave. which gives it a full bodied. giving us a second C. It is also important that you understand the steps of creating basic triads. Use the other scales.

The easiest way to create an arpeggio is to use a preexisting chord shape. to play it is a melody we would play each note in order from either highest to lowest or lowest to highest. B. It is important that you understand chord properties. we would need to simply add the octave of G. If we were to play an A minor scale. basic Major and minor keys. G Now that you know the most common bass chord patterns. D. The G Major chord should look like this: G. As with all concepts. and basic musical intervals. the bass guitar can be just as interesting and dynamic as the electric guitar. Next you need to understand the difference between harmony and melody. let’s put them to use. as this will better help you to memorize the chord. Be sure you have a full understanding of how chords are built. it is important that you first assess your skill level. When we play a C Major triad. Before we get into arpeggios. Harmony is when two or more voices ring out in unison. Arpeggios are simply chords that are played note by note. the final step is to practice. One of the most interesting concepts in bass is the arpeggio. The only way to properly memorize these chords is to add them to your music. we will need to build a basic C Major chord. Be sure that you are familiar with basic chords such as triads. B. as well as those of keys. First off. To bring our chord full circle. Now that you understand the key concepts behind building an arpeggio. Our G Major triad would consist of the notes G. E. and in the key of C Major. Try saying the chord names while you play them. This chord is fairly similar to the C Major chord in the fact that it involves an octave built off of the tonic. as arpeggios are dependent upon the chords from which they are built. the easiest place to start is in the key of C Major. and G.Our final chord is the G Major chord. Melody is a linear pattern in either ascending or descending order. Because the pattern is moving in a single direction. and D. When used properly. . it is a linear pattern. Have fun! How to Play Bass Guitar Arpeggios Guitar isn’t the only instrument that has advanced concepts. a tonic triad consists of the notes C. creating a single voice. we are creating harmony. The most basic chord is a triad.

Check out the slew of other bass guitar lessons that we offer on different sections of the site as well. Before we get into the meat of the progression though. but don’t know where to start. and a third. which consists of a root. Sometimes simplicity is best. and because of this. and G.To turn this triad into an arpeggio. Enjoy! I-IV-V Progressions on Bass Guitar If you want to groove. that’s okay. E. The first note in the key of C Major is C. E. arpeggios are simple. yet impressive when put to proper application. and because our I-IV-V progression is completely major. fuller and more complete sound to our arpeggio. we can follow a single rule. The first. Most every chord in music is built off of a triad. The fifth note within the key of C Major is G. Using our C Major triad of C. Now that you know how to create bass guitar arpeggios. A scale degree is simply a fancy term for the number of a note within a given key. This may sound fairly simple. which is the subdominant. First off. but don’t feel it necessary to always add. The I-IV-V progression is one of the most common chord progressions in music. and fifth scale degrees within a Major scale are all Major. look no further. . Take for example the key of C Major. if we play our arpeggio from C to G. then jump a fifth to D. let’s take a look at the basic element of it. the next step is to try creating your own. For instance. Some notes simply will not sound pleasant. To build off of our C Major triad arpeggio. then return to G and descend. we simply need to choose intervals that will accentuate the arpeggio. In fact. This is why it is important that you have a full understanding if basic keys and musical intervals. and G in either ascending or descending order. Sometimes arpeggios are best left to their basic notes. Read this article if you are interested in an indepth look on creating bass guitar triads. we would simply need to play the notes C. Triads are the most basic chords in modern music. and that is because it is. a fifth. what does I-IV-V even mean? The Roman numerals refer to things called scale degrees. we can create a more dynamic arpeggio using the notes of the C Major scale. the I-IV-V progression has an extremely uplifting and powerful feel. fourth. The neat thing about arpeggios is that they can be built off of. The fourth note in the key of C Major is F. chances are you have heard this progression at work. Keep your mind open to expansion when working with arpeggios. which is the dominant. if you have ever listened to pop or to the blues. These are things that can be assessed through experimentation. If you don’t understand chord structures. This note is the tonic of C Major. we add a richer. The best way to add dynamics to an arpeggio is through trial and error.

is going to be built off of our tonic. If we move up a Major third. A#. F.) Moving a minor third from B will give us the note D (C.) This means our C Major tonic triad consists of the notes C. B. D. for our dominant triad.A Major triad is built of a Major third (four half steps) with a minor third (three half steps) on top. D Using what we just learned. C. Using this strategy. Moving a Major third from C. let’s create our three basic triads for our I-IV-V progression in the key of C Major. we already know.) Moving a minor third from A will bring us to C (A#. and G. C Dominant – V G.) Moving a further minor third will bring us the note G (F. Our tonic triad. For our subdominant triad. A. G. we can now easily play a basic I-IV-V progression on bass. F#. E. C#. E. we need to start on the subdominant of C Major. we know we will need to build off of our C Major dominant note. D#. B. G Subdominant – IV F. G. B. try deriving your own from each of the major keys! . A.) This means our basic C Major triad I-IV-V progression will contain the notes C. C.) Finally. Once you have mastered this simple I-IV-V progression. A. which is G. we are brought to the note A (F#. and G. which is F. we come to the note E (C#. D. G#. E. Moving a Major third from G brings us to the note B (G#. and each notes respective triad will look as follows: Tonic – I C.

A#. we need to learn to build triads on the bass guitar. and in music. Triads are a three note chord consisting of a root. Now since both of our triads have a root (a first). D#. A basic Major seventh chord is built by adding a further Major third to the end of a Major triad. we would need to add a minor third on top of our triad. D. Namely. a third. using our C Major tonic triad.) This means that our minor triad would consist of the notes D. A Major triad is built of a Major third. E. For example. and C. In fact. they are a great tool to use within any style of music. B. G. To get to our perfect fifth. Seventh chords are closely related to triads. G and B. F#. . these are chords. To create a supertonic minor triad. though. F. A basic minor seventh chord is built by adding a second minor third to the end of a minor triad. E. This means that. F. Now for our supertonic triad to become a seventh chord. F.) Our note E would be our third. A. E. they are chords called seventh chords.) This means our C Major tonic triad would consist of the notes C. Because they are such open ended sounding chords. which would bring us to G (F. bringing us to F (D#. we would first have to start on C and move a Major third upwards. this means that every seventh chord begs for resolutions. and a fifth. Every seventh chords contains a dissonant interval.A Triad With Dissonance Jazz is a unique style. Seventh chords possess a very distinctive sound. B.) Our E note would be our third. we would need to move up a further Major third (F#. and A. Before we can construct seventh chords. though. and G. C. we would first need to move a minor third from D. A. and a fifth. Today we are going to discuss how to build seventh chords on your bass guitar. it seems pretty basic that our next interval would bring us to a seventh. a quality achieved by dissonance. with a minor third stacked on top. A. Even the most unique style has its common aspects. G#. if we were to make a C Major tonic triad. G. which would bring us to E (C#. we would need to move a further minor third.) This means that our supertonic triad in the key of C Major would consist of the notes D. full of twists and turns and hundreds of variations. and for jazz.) This means our Major seventh chord consist of the notes C. each seventh chord is a triad with an added seventh. we would simply need to move a further Major third to achieve a seventh chord. This interval would bring us to the note B (G#. a third. E.Seventh Chords . To come to a perfect fifth. This would bring us to the note C (A#.

as used above. F.Now that you know how seventh chords are built. Have fun! Diatonic Chords on Bass Guitar Increasing your musical knowledge can better your playing in more way than one. progressions. it is good to know what chords will properly fit. have notes that relate entirely to the scale. or the Bb Major triad. Take Bb Major for example. as the tonic of Bb Major coincides with the notes in the scale itself. . For instance. if the progression is in Bb Major. you can use the diatonic chords to match all three chords. It consists of the notes Bb. In basic terms. and A. So for example. Bb Major is a rather simple scale. knowing the diatonic chords will make it easier to play notes that fit into each chord being played. It would also mean that the tonic triad of the Bb Major scale is a diatonic chord. and chords will allow you to write music that is more cohesive. it isn’t diatonic. it can help you to compose better. This would give us the Bb Major chord. So how would we put this information to practical usage? If you are playing a progression. or subdominant chord) to F ( fifth scale degree. we will talk about one of the most common musical terms—and musical relationship in general—that will help you to understand just a little bit more about what you are playing and why it sounds this good. F. try moving the notes to different sections to achieve different pitches. G. as you gain a better understanding of why certain notes work together. why certain notes don’t work together. C. diatonic chords on bass guitar. or tonic chord) to Eb (fourth scale degree. we see that. Don’t limit yourself to one section of your fret board. and then back to Bb. and the progression moves from Bb (first scale degree. Secondly. this means that the triad of the given chord must contain only the notes that are in the scale itself. D. unless the scale degree’s triad matches those given notes. D. If you are playing over a moving progression. In this article. Knowing this helps you to write better. Knowing this. and better yet. Eb. it can help you to truly understand just why what you are doing sounds the way it does. or dominant chord). Understanding the relationships between scales. Firstly. So first off. try building some of your own. inside of a scale. what are diatonic chords? Diatonic chords are chords that. and what was mentioned before. our first diatonic chord would be Bb.

instead of being played simultaneously. here we are going to take a look at how a diminished chord can be arpeggiated. Arpeggios are employable by almost any instrument. in the context of Bb Major. Let us talk a little about arpeggios on the bass guitar and let us discuss what makes an arpeggio diminished. played one by one – and this is what arpeggios are. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the scales. and G. then after a rest the example showcases how the given chords can be arpeggiated in the simplest possible way. In the end. and good luck with it! Diminished Arpeggios on Bass Guitar There are a number of techniques and idioms that people tend to associate with guitars and do not realize that they apply to string instruments or playing music in general. An Introduction to Arpeggios The word arpeggio comes from the Italian verb ―arpeggiare‖ which means ―to play on a harp‖. one after another. you can play over both the tonic and the dominant chord. third and fifth notes of the scale. The example below shows how very simple chords can be arpeggiated. Both lines feature rather common chords: first the chord is struck. A nicely executed arpeggio contains only notes belonging to a single chord. you would only need to know two chords to play over a three chord progression. then try and pick out the proper chords. To put it together: an arpeggio is a musical technique where the notes of a chord are played in sequence.Playing the notes of the Bb tonic triad. . Have fun. but sometimes people tend to associate it with guitars. and these notes have to be played individually. Even though the chord in question might be a simple tonic triad containing only the first. Playing the notes of the C supertonic triad (second scale degree chord) which contains the notes C. Eb. This means that. would allow you to play over the subdominant triad chord. Harpists never play chords with all notes ringing simultaneously: they play chords broken down into individual notes. the best way to use diatonic chords in bass guitar playing is through practice.

That is. In the majority of older books the notation Gdim or G° used to refer to diminished seventh chords. Basically. a diminished triad is a simple chord consisting of two minor thirds set above the root note. lately the notations have become a lot more precise and Gdim or G° refers to a diminished triad chord while diminished seventh chords are denoted by (in the case of the G key) Gdim7 or G°7. understanding how to play a diminished arpeggio is really just puzzle work. ) If you do not have GuitarPro yet. download a copy of Guitar Pro instantly here. When speaking of diminished chords we might also refer to diminished seventh chords.. What is a Diminished Triad? There are two interpretations regarding to what the term ―diminished chord‖ might refer to.. A diminished seventh chord can be treated as four notes stacked in intervals of a minor third. You guessed it: a diminished arpeggio is the spreading of a diminished chord – usually a diminished seventh chord.Download the . In most situations.. The first of these interpretations refers to diminished triad chords. .. a diminished triad might be considered dissonant and unstable – maybe that is the reason why jazz players like to use it so much. which are basically diminished triads with the addition of an interval of a diminished seventh above the root. How to Play the Diminished Arpeggios? Now that we have gone through the basics of what an arpeggio is and how it should be played and we have also understood what a diminished chord is.gtp file for the lesson ( Right click and Save As. the notes separated by minor thirds are played in sequence. however.

The example below shows two diminished seventh chords and a possible arpeggiation of these. .one by one.

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