Safe bass lines:
As the chord is active in the song - how much room do you have for that chord, i.e. in 4/4 time is there one chord per measure? Fine; four 1/4 note chord tones (or rests) per measure. If there are two chords per measure you only have room for two 1/4 notes per measure. With that in mind, read on.
- Root on one. R-R-R-R -- pound out roots to the beat until the chord progression changes to a new active root note.
- If it needs more chord tones add a 5. For example R-5-R-5 or R-R-5-5, it's your bass line any combination of roots and 5's make a safe bass line.
- Still have some room add an 8. R-5-8-5 Up to this point you are generic and will work on major or minor chords. On a diminished chord the 5 needs to be a b5, but, how often do you run up on diminished chords. Roots, fives and eights will play a lot of bass. And the pattern is easy to maintain.
- Still have room insert the correct 3 or 7. R-3-5-7 or R-b3-5-b7. It's here you get specific as to major or minor bass lines for major or minor chords.
- We've used the R-3-5-7 & 8 so far. Love 6's with a major chord (R-3-5-6), help yourself to 6's, the 2's and 4's make good passing notes, but, do not stop on them; keep them passing.
- No reason to go into the next octave. Take care of the bottom end let the solo instruments have the higher octaves, i.e. the 9, 11, & 13 are not necessary in accompaniment bass lines. Of course that is my opinion.
Want to flow to the next chord. Use chromatic or diatonic notes X number of frets above or below the next root. Target the next root note and then miss it by X number of frets - then walk to it one fret per beat and be on the root for the chord change. Easy to do, hard to time. Timing will take some work. Mark the lyric word you will need to leave on so you hit the chord change dead on. Normally one beat per lyric syllable works out.
On the C root (4th string 8th fret) going to the F... C#, D, up a string, E and land on F. On F going to G. Back up and get the E, F, F# and land on G. Now on G going to C. Several ways of going here I usually go back toward the nut with diatonic notes; F, E, D and drop down a string for C.
Major Scale Box.
G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string