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Can someone help me and explain chords on bass please

Posts: 36
I am trying to understand “ bass chords” and the more I look it up the more confused I am… for example is there such a thing as a chord on the bass like a C chord or G… if so is it multiple strings/frets like the guitar or is individual notes?

If its individual notes like it may show on a chart what would be the pattern or order of the notes? I see the position that may make up a chord but have no idea what makes up that chord on the bass.

When would it be used or appropriate to play?

for example if guitar is playing C chord can we also play the C chord?

and on a chord chart it may show multiple notes for same chords… how do you know which one to play or it about the octave?

Then there is the “key of ” what is it that decides what key its in as in someones 12 bar blues key of G with 5 and one turn a round… wth are they talking about ?

any insight would be greatly appreciated. I have tried to learn this before I reached out just so you know…. thanks in advance
Posts: 186
chords are usually made with 1 3 5 notes of a scale, scale cmajor is cdefgabc..12345678

so take note 1-c note 3-e note 5-g you have now made c major chord..

now do the same with the d note 1-d 3-f 5-a..you have now made dminor chord; and so on… if you work your way through the scale.
you will get.
C major
D minor
E minor
F major
G major
A minor
B diminished

You can play chords on bass but they will sound crappy by the neck.thats why we usually play them note after note (arpeggiate).
However you can play them like a guitar high up the bass neck.

'key of' ‘12 bar blues’…ok take c major again. cdefgabc counting 5 onward from note c gives you g with c being 1. so 5 1 is chords G C

Keys have a number of sharps or flat notes that never change…
c no sharps/flats C D E F E G A B C
g 1 sharp… G A B C D E F# G
d 2 sharps… D E F# G A B C# D
a 3 sharps…A B C# D E F# G# A
f 1 flat…F G A Bflat C D E F
and so on
Posts: 2182
Purples that wasn't complicated……not! Lol, Topnorm while the guitar plays chords the bass plays Triads, which as Purplez describes, are the Root, third and fifth of the major scale, C, E and G being the C Major Triad. To make C Minor the third note of the scale is flatted, C, Eb and G being C Minor. You can also use Inversions where you use the same three notes but in a different order, and you don't need to stick with the major scale, major seventh scale replaces the fifth with the seventh or a power chord is Root, Fifth and Seventh
Posts: 186
Purples that wasn't complicated……not! Lol,

I edited it to try and make it easier these theory things seem a lot more complicated written down than they actually are, don't they!
DANNYBASSMAN93 [top submitter]
Posts: 510
you know if it makes it hard for you topnorm i could lend a hand and post a chord dicxtionary for the bass guitar as a tab.

That is off course if you wish for me to do so.

Posts: 36
ok… that is awesome. thank you.

so to play a chord its descending notes … the root, the 3rd and 5th and that is a triad; correct?

and I can invert the order?

how do I know the “key of”… for instance if the chords of the music are G D C does the “key of” decide which GDC I play on the fret board ?
if they play three chords on a slower acoustic type song is it wise to play the matching bass chords so that would be nine notes?

Maybe that depends on their strum pattern?

I appreciate your input guys its all helpful!

Yes Danny that would be helpful to me I think while I figure this out. I want to understand this stuff as I learn. I am lov'n this bass stuff so anything to further my journey is appreciated!
Posts: 2182
Ok so we're getting it now, the key is the note you start with. So let's say the chord progression is G D C, while the guitar plays a G chord you can noodle around with the B and D, the other two notes in the triad, next he moves to a D chord, you have D F and A to mess about with but you could just play the A and maybe it's octave, with the C chord you have C E and G but you decide which of these notes to play. Now, the Triad of C is C E and G but you can throw in some ‘Accidentals’ play the C note and as you go to the E step up to it via the fret before, this gives the triad a bit more interest. Avoid following the strum pattern, the bass provides the Rhythm so you and the drummer need to get tight, follow his bass pedal but not note for note, as long as you and the drummer are on the same wavelength you will get a good groove going, the guitar plays the melody on top of the rhythm. Here's an excercise for you and it may bore you silly but it will help you to understand what we have been saying, learn ‘Johnny B Goode’ by Chuck Berry, it's 12 bar Blues in B, learn the bassline note for note then once you nail it, make up your own bassline for the song using inversions, good luck and rock on
Posts: 1499
I don't call arpeggios (triads) chords. By arpeggio I mean three harmonically-related notes played sequentially, such as the C, E, G sequence in Marko's postings.

To me, a chord has always meant two or more notes played simultaneously. I think this is what Purplez was saying with his example of a C major chord (1 C, 3 E, and 5 G). Loudlon's tab of Feel The Pain by Dinosaur Jr. shows what I call chords in the Prechorus and Chorus.


In the bass lessons tabs here at BBT, there are bass chord dictionaries, though I don't know how good they are as I am a simpleton, largely limited to aligning one finger with one fret at a time. More than that and the fuses blow!
Posts: 2182
There are 3 notes in a chord, two notes together are called double stops, all the notes in the chord of A on a guitar are A, E, A, C, E, those are the notes that are played in the chord, the low E is muted

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