Chord problems

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JeffVanter, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. JeffVanter


    Sep 23, 2012
    Today, I was jamming with a keyboardist who has GREAT songs. He was using a ton of different chord variations of "dominant" whatever. As a bassist, I never really learned how to play these kinds of chords or even know what the notes are.

    Can somebody show me what the dominant chord position looks like? Where can I learn more on these other types of chords? What are the difference in these chords?

    Like for example what does an add 9th or add 7th chord look like on bass?

    Thank you so much for the help. I was completely lost today.
  2. KidChar15


    Mar 16, 2013
    Dominant 7th chords are based on the Mixolydian mode. It's like the major scale, except the 7th is a half-step down. When I play across a dominant 7th, I use the root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes from that scale. Find those notes all up and down the fretboard and get familiar with the pattern. I'll also use a pentatonic scale, which is the 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6th notes of the major scale. Again, find all those notes up and down the fretboard. The sixth note in the major scale is the relative minor, and there's a pentatonic you can build from the natural minor scale that has the root, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th. This minor pentatonic scale, when played from the sixth note of the major scale, contains the same notes as the major pentatonic scale. There's tons of good info out there, but the trick is to ingrain it to where you can apply it on the fly. Go to youtube and search "Jeff Berlin chord tones."
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Chord spelling 101.

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.

    Major Scale Box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    D7 coming up. Grab the D at the 4th string 10th fret and play the chord spelling for a dominant seven chord. Which is the R-3-5-b7. The b7 within the box is right over the 4.

    Basic Chords
    • Major Triad = R-3-5
    • Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    • Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    • Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    • Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    • Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    • ½ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    • Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7

    See a chord and play it's chord tones. As every key will have three major, three minor and one diminished chord it's a good idea to get your major, minor and diminished bass line chord tones into muscle memory so when you see a chord your fingers just know what will work. Now the song may only give you enough room for the root, or root five - adapt and get as many chord tones into your bass line as needed. Root on 1 and a steady groove from the other chord tones plus something to call attention to the chord change is what we do.

    So with your friend using dominant seven chords you have several choices for a bass line;

    R-3-5-b7 is one, what else would have worked? How about 3 on one and b7 on the third beat? You take it from here.....

    Edit - You asked about add9. Take the normal triad and add a 9, i.e. R-3-5-9 or for minor - madd9 -- R-b3-5-9. This should help. A 9 is a 2 in the next octave up -- take the box up into the next octave.

    Have fun. Remember what we do is called playing.
  4. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Dominant chord is 1, 3, 5 b7 of the scale of the root (with extensions above the 7th depending on the name). A C7 is C E G Bb. An A7 is A C# E G. Bb7 is (an exercise for the student). Go ahead do it, and post your answer....

    A ninth is a dom 7 with the 9 (2nd) added, an 11th is the dom 7 with the 9 and 11, etc.

    As a bassist our job is to define the harmony so knowing a 9th has the 9th in addition to the 1 3 5 b7 is helpful, but ultimately it's about defining that it's NOT a minor and it's NOT a major chord. Generally a dominant chord is unsettled and pulling your ear somewhere. A G7 in the key of C pulls to the tonic (C major). It's your job to set up that change. Unless the composition is really modal, ignore the Mixolydian way of approaching the chord.

    G7 is built on the fifth note of the C major scale and that cord is pulling you to the tonic so stay in the key of C and target the key notes of the G7 chord.

  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    As JTE points out what is really interesting is how chords like to move to certain other chords. Course that has more to do with composing chord progressions than knowing how and what to play over a progression. But the more you know about chords the better you will be able to play over them. then click on Lessons, then click on common chord progressions (it's down several screens) could be time well spent. If we let chords move to chords they like to go to good things normally happen.

    Again have fun.
  6. Here's a sheet with all the common chord fingerings laid out. I suggest you get comfortable playing these patterns while you figure out which notes you're playing and why you're playing them.

  7. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Great chart. Adding the augmented pattern adds value.
  8. Could you tell I wrote that one in by hand?

  9. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Yep, and I checked it out, not used to going back toward the nut.
  10. Hi JeffVanter, +1 to all the advise given for learning the chord tones and the charts given. Working with a good keyboard player can really be great experience, I certainly don't have all the answers but can offer some pointers that may help;

    1) Does the keyboardist play a lot of bass notes with their left hand or are they leaving that space for you, that will determine how much and what you can play.

    2) Many keyboard players will put in quite a bit of their own bass, if something is not sounding right you can always ask what bass note they are using for a particular chord.

    3) Learn the inversions for example; G7 in root position the notes are G, B, D, F, 1st inversion B, D, F, G, 2nd inversion D, F, G, B, 3rd inversion F, G, B, D, the 1st and 2nd inversions are more often used if one is to be played.

    4) Try getting used to hearing where the bass line is going, a keyboard player will often use inversions to create direction in the bass, for example in a simple progression like C-G-Am, it may be played with the G chord in the 1st position which means the B is now the bass note, this would create a descending bass line with notes C-B-A, this should be indicated in you chord chart if that's what you are playing off and would look like this C-G/B-Am.

    5) Sometimes a keyboard player uses a bass note that does not immediately relate to that chord like a second, so you get a C chord with a D bass note, as a chord it may sound a bit wrong but something like this is usually working with what's happening in the melody line, it is important to play the right bass note and get used to hearing the whole arrangement and how the bass fits in, this can take some time to get used to, it took me a long time to be able to hear passed what I was playing and hear how the bass was working or not working with the whole arrangement, I am far from perfect and am only starting to get this.

    6) When a keyboardist is using other bass notes or inversions and there is space between the chord changes to add other notes then what I usually do is make sure I know what bass note they are using (if not written), if I have trouble working it out I'll ask the keyboard player, I then aim for their root notes on the changes then use other chord tones to add color to the next change. Some keyboard players will leave space so the bass player can have more to work with but that is not the rule, so I just work as best as I can with what they are doing to make the whole thing sounds good.

    Best of luck I hope this is really a great experience for you.
  11. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Concentrate on what these chords sound like and what scales you can play over them. You're boxing yourself in if you just go by what the chords look like fingered on a fretboard.
  12. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    Hey! .. that looks like my BGD cheat sheet .. I even wrote the Augmented in the same place!!

    ... only I am anal, so my lines are straighter and only using 3 strings like the other examples, so I wouldn't be challenging Malcolm like you did ... ;)
  13. Great minds think alike!!!

    I don't remember where I got it. I don't own BGD (Bass Guitar for Dummies?). I do recall piecing it together and enlarging it on a computer so it would fill a single sheet of paper.

    EDIT - here's one that looks identical: