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Bass Chords?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by OctoRock, Oct 5, 2010.


  1. OctoRock

    OctoRock

    Jul 8, 2010
    What are they? I thought that there were no chords on the bass but my music teacher(not bass teacher I am teaching myself) told me that their are some for the bass. Could you please name me some and what their use is?

    ~ Thx:cool:
     
  2. Well, basically you can play any chord on bass, at least when you decompose (???) them right
     
  3. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Look at the definition of a chord. Your common, basic chords are composed of at least three notes, consisting of the root - major/minor third - fifth. In the key of C, a C chord (major) would be composed of C-E-G. In tab, it would look like this:

    G|--0--|
    D|--2--|
    A|--3--|
    E|-----|


    The same idea is applied over every note, all of your possible chord types, and all around the fretboard. There are literally thousands of chords to be played on a bass guitar. Like any instrument, they are used to enhance and fill the music.
     
  4. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    A "traditional" chord is the root, 3rd, and 5th and tends to sound like $#!% on the bass. Leave the 3rd out and you have something useful.

    A typical bass chord would be playing a string (the root) and the next string up fretted two frets higher than the root (the 5th) and the next string up from that at the same fret as the second string (the octave root).

    You commonly would only play two of those three notes. Leave the octave root out for the most common chord. Leave the root out and you have an inverted chord. Leave the 5th out for a fuller 8/10 string sound.

    These fit over either a major or minor chord since it's the missing 3rd that determines which it is.

    Chords tend to sound better the higher up they are played - below the "A" they can get pretty muddy if you are playing the 5th too but the root and added octave still work pretty good "down there:. The lower chords work best as ending "notes" to a song or in a place where there is lots of space to fill. Like anything moderation is best :) .
     
  5. guroove

    guroove

    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I find it much more useful to leave out the 5th. 3rds and 10ths sound good as double stops, and a root - 7th - 10th chord sounds pretty good for 7th chords triple stops, IMO.
     
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999

    Without the 3rd, the chord loses its quality.

    Mike Dimin
    author, "The Art of Solo Bass" (all about chords and how to use them)
     
  7. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    +1. Except for diminished and augmented chords the 5th does nothing to add color to the chord. 3rds and 7ths are what defines the "quality" of the chord.

    Mike Dimin
    author, "The Art of Solo Bass" (all about chords and how to use them)
     
  8. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    In a solo - sure. As the OP obviously was starting from scratch I thought it best to keep things simple :) . I was also (perhaps wrongly?) assuming he was playing rock. If he is playing rock I'd suggest starting here for the theory:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_chord
     
  9. zakimball

    zakimball

    Jul 5, 2010
    Fremont CA
  10. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    By definition, a chord is 3 or more notes played simultaneously. As per your link a "power chord" is not truly a chord

    Mike Dimin
    author, "The Art of Solo Bass" (all about chords and how to use them)
     
  11. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Per my link:
    "Theorists are divided on whether a power chord can be considered a chord in the traditional sense".

    So - "It depends" :D .
     
  12. HeadyVan Halen

    HeadyVan Halen

    Jun 11, 2010
    OK,
    middle finger on 13th fret (A string)
    index on 12th (D string)
    ring on 14th (G string)
    (4 string of course!)

    There. C Major. That'll be $25. Play around with it and don't be afraid of the 10th fret and beyond!
     
  13. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    C Major = C, E, G. What you are playing is A#, D, A - I don't get it ?
     
  14. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast

    May 7, 2010
    Philadelphia
    Primus uses a lot of bass chords and strumming. Some examples:

    John the Fisherman:
     
  15. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    Well I am a theorist ... in my learned opinion, power chords, due to the fact that they do impart a quality to the chord, cannot be considered a chord. Without the quality of the chord, it's function within a progression or tune cannot be clearly defined. The main purpose of "power chords" is to emphasize the root motion and to add fullness to the sound - definitely an important thing in some styles of music, but not really a chord.

    When I was one of the original "Ask The Pros" here at TB, I had many postings about functional harmony and the role of chords within the harmony of a tune. Too bad those postings are gone.

    Mike Dimin
    author, "The Art of Solo Bass" (all about chords and how to use them)
     
  16. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999

    He is playing the root, maj 7th and tenth of a Bb Maj 7 chord
     
  17. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Maybe he just wanted to see if we were paying attention ;) - or is messin' with our heads :meh: ?
     
  18. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Think you left a "not" out of there? Anyways my point is that in rock the word "chord" is a bit more loosely defined and on bass you would more commonly play a "power chord" for fullness than a traditional chord - especially if you are using a non-clean "tube" sound. As someone who also did a bit of study in classical music I 100% agree with you that rock tends to pervert the meanings of musical terms and I hate to not correct folks - but then again I try to adapt and speak their language when dealing with "rock heads" ;) .
     

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