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Chords on bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Juggo, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. Juggo


    Dec 29, 2006
    Hold on a minute...
    People actually play chords on the bass?
    Like guitarists do when they hit more notes at the time.
    Now that something new, ive always played note by note never combined.
    So does this meen that it would be a good thing to learn all the.... i dont know.... 500 chords! :confused:
    Personally i NEVER hear a bass play chords.
    Only a scale through them.
    So what do you think should i learn the chords?
    What are the advantages and disvantages? ( spelling? )
  2. Disadvantages: You'll be too cool for every band in town.
    Advantages: You'll be too cool for every band in town.

    Seriously, you want to know where the notes in all the chords are anyway for purposes of bassline construction.
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Maybe you just didn't realize it was bass.

    it's not used to replace any other technique, it's just something to add to a line. Learning basic chord construction is a good thing.
  4. Kheos


    Aug 12, 2002

    I see no reason NOT to know them.
    And I bet there a lot more chords then just 500 :)
    off course you don't need to know how to play each chord, most of them wouldn't sound that great on bass. But 1-5-9 chords, power chords, 1-3-7... chords are always a great tool when you know how to use them.
  5. just fiddle around on your bass and try to find some harmonics which u can use. you don't have to use chords, but sometimes they add another dimension to the song
  6. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Yep, all the time...

    Not necessarily.

    Knowing the appropriate chord tones to outline chord changes is fundamental to bass playing. You usually want to emphasise them by playing them on strong beats.

    The scales give you the most appropriate passing tones between the chord tones.

    Remember that the "chord" is not just what the guitarist or pianist is playing, but the sum total of what all pitched instruments are playing.
  7. steveb98

    steveb98 [acct disabled - multiple aliases]

    Mar 15, 2006
    Venice, CA
    Use of Double-stops on bass, two note chords go way back in music. Then playing three or more notes (5-6 string bass) is used in all styles of music and solo bass playing. It take some special handling in that some chords get muddy or stange sounding if played too low on the bass. Best on basses the are very clear sounding and amp that isn't muddy.

    All in all chords on the bass sound great very big and powerful compared to guitar. Look at how many guitar players are using drop tunings and baritone guitars to try and get a bigger sound.
  8. Juggo


    Dec 29, 2006
    Yeah but thats weird.
    I meen whats the system for building a chord.
    Lets say i wanna play a A chord how should i know what notes i should combine?
    And aint this --0--3--5-- notes
    and this a chord --3--

    There must be a system right?
    Or is it just Mozart that played notes combined and said
    "Oh **** im gonna call this wicked sound a A Minor Chord"

    Any help apreciated :meh:

    Note: the other notes i made there are supposed to be under eachother. The 3 5 and 2 :S
  9. There's a great little book on chords for bass guitar- by Jonas Helborg, IIRC. About $8 & fits in a case/gigbag.
  10. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    McCartney used an "interval" on "I wanna hold your hand" and it sounded great. An interval to me is what some are calling a 2 note chord, which is usually I-V. They can be powerful sounding.
  11. labgnat

    labgnat Banned

    Oct 29, 2005
    outta this world
    2 note chords are double stops and yeah defintely use those. i dont' play much actual chords (3 notes or more at once) because unless ur playing something really pretty and melodic it's just gonna sound muddy.
  12. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    bassteban beat me to the recommendation of Hellborg's gig bag book. I bought it at GC one day, but they have it for sale at Amazon for $7. Here's a link: Chord Bassics

    While it's a great reference on chord shapes, it doesn't explain any theory, which it sounds like you need to investigate. Here is a very basic rundown of chords. Basic chords are built from playing every other note of the scale.

    For instance, C major has the notes C, D, E, F, G, A & B
    These notes are called the root, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th
    A C chord would start on C, skip D, play E, skip F, and play G. So the C chord is C-E-G Chords are called major or minor depending on the third (the second note in the chord, in this case E) If that note is three half steps away, it is a minor 3rd. If it is four half steps away, it is a major third.

    E is four half steps from C so it is a major third and the chord is a major chord.

    The next chord in the key of C would start with D, skip E, play F, skip G, play A for a chord of D-F-A Since F is three half steps rom D, this chord has a minor third and it is a D minor. You can continue on building all the chords of the scale this way.

    If you try it yourself, you should see that C is major, D is minor, E is minor, F is major, G is major, A is minor, and B is diminished which means that it has a minor third, but a flatted 5th, giving it an ominous tone.

    The chords I've just described are called triads, meaning that they are made up of 3 notes. Adding the next note for each chord (again skipping one note in the scale and playing the next one) would be a seventh chord.

    There is a whole world of weird chords like sixth, ninth, & eleventh chords, suspended 2nd & 4ths, inversions (where the same notes are played but with a different note as the lowest or root note) and plenty more.

    At the very least, you should understand how chords are constructed as it will help you enormously in constructing basslines. Not every bass player has to play chords though.

    I think double stops work wonderfully in almost every genre of music, but playing chords is not a necessity.

    I do play chords fairly often, but I am in a band with one guitar player where I often have some space. I strum chords and arpeggiate a lot. But more often than not, I play chords more as a piano player, hitting all the notes at once rather than strumming or raking like a guitar player.

    I do this on a four string bass by plucking the A, D & G strings with my first, middle & index finger and the E string with my thumb. I can do the same thing on my 5 string bass using my pinky on the high C.

    Invest the time to learn about chords. Even if you don't play them yourself, it will make you a better bass player.

    *I wrote this quickly, so if anyone spots any flaws in my music theory (never my strong suit) be sure to let me know*
  13. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Check out some of Todd Johnson's music.

  14. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    Carles Benavent and Colin Hodgkinson come to mind.
  15. jimmy garrison does some really awesome chordal stuff.
    Being able to play root position chords and their inversions is helpful in LEARNING their sounds and being able to hear them. This way you can also construct bass lines when improvising.
  16. I like to play the 2-note sliding chord on Steely Dan's "Josie". Here's a good Youtube of it (not me playing):

  17. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Heaps do :)

    Steve Harris slams out his fair share of triple-stops - the pre-chorus in 'Powerslave' had a huge effect on my playing while I was learning. I'm not a huge Primus fan, but Les Claypool does heaps of chordal stuff.

    I chuck in root-mute-octave, root-fifth power chords, finger rakes, popped tritones etc when I feel a part should stand out a bit more. Do some of that with a distorted bass sound and you can make some jaws drop :)
  18. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Yup. Check out some:
    Michael Manring (TB As A Pro)

    Mike Dimin (Former TB Ask A Pro)

    Todd Johnson (TB Ask A Pro)

    Jeff Schmidt (2005 Bass Extremes Contest Winner)

    Steve Lawson (TB Ask A Pro)

  19. Jeff Martinez

    Jeff Martinez

    May 10, 2005
    Denver, CO

    I play chords on about 90% of the stuff I write. Check out the song "Luo" on my MySpace. http://www.myspace.com/jeffmartinezbassist
    It's full of chords.

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