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how do you play bass chords?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Pete528, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. Pete528


    Aug 13, 2007
    I am completely clueless on how to play chords on a bass, but I am very interested.

    Can someone help me out here?
  2. Play more than one note at a time. I usually stick with no more than one per string.;):D

    Really we need to know some background info. Do you know how to make a major triad? C-E-G is one example. C-Eb-G would be a minor triad. Stick those notes together and you're playing a bass chord. Move it around the neck to suit your song.

    A favorite of mine would be to hit a 7th chord as an accent, voiced as C-E-Bb. You can leave the G out, it's not needed to outline the chord type.

    I could talk all day about this but that's a quickie starter post...
  3. JacobE


    Jul 19, 2008
    im by no means an expert but i fin it similar to guitar just you have to strum a little harder and have the notes held in place well, and use a pick its heaps easier than with the fingers

    a really easy song with really simple chords for bass is bionic by placebo, or if you dont find that callenging enough try you need a hug by the ataris which is kinda easy but at least a little more challenging
  4. standupright


    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow
    something to start with

    this is not fret count but root count so-

    key of c for example
    1 - 3 - 5
    C - E - G

    1 - b3 - 5

    1 - 3 - 5 - 7
  5. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    i think he means the technique...sometimes i use one finger and quickly pluck all the strings in the chord...provided they are on consecutive strings. some times i designate one of my right hand fingers to plucking a specific string, and use 2-3 fingers plucking at the same time. you could also flamenco strum the chord, use your thumb and fingers on the right hand in a finger picking manner. using a pick is another way.:D

    or maybe thats not what u meant.

    i find its general better to play chords on the higher strings, D and G (if you have a four string) also, playing a power chord doesnt work on a bass like it does on a guitar. sounds muddy in many cases. you also have to be careful with the type of chord where u play it.

    for example, if you do

    A 4
    E 3

    as a chord, its gonna sound pretty bad in my opinion. if you play it an octave higher, it isnt so bad. of course this is all just my opinion, and many may well disagree.
  6. standupright


    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow

    use a what? :p
  7. Pete528


    Aug 13, 2007
    oh, thanks for the advice everyone!

    i know a little guitar so i know that most basic major and minor chords are made of root, 3rd, and 5th, so according to you guys i would just do the same kind of thing?

    i tried that and it just doesnt sound right on the lower notes on my bass.

    and Eclectic, thanks for the advice on strumming, because i was just going to ask that but forgot. I've been using a pick when I tried some chords out, but I would much rather use my fingers.
  8. DaneB


    May 25, 2008
    Western Australia
    Yes, chords played lower do sound rather muddy most of the time. Try something like a low bass note on the E string, and a 10th/octaved 3rd on top of it. I find playing a note on the E string and the 10th on the G string, a fret up sounds very nice. But any higher interval sounds decent too. You can then add other notes in depending on the chord you want.
  9. cmewhinney


    Jul 11, 2008
    Concord, NH
    You should talk to Mr. Todd Johnson about that!

  10. http://www.michaeldimin.com/lessons.htm
  11. Andy419


    Aug 13, 2007
    Try playing "Don't Forget Me" by the Chili Peppers. It is an INCREDIBLY easy song and involves chords the entire time. (The same chord progression the entire song).
  12. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    Actually you need three notes to make a chord, two notes is a harmonic interval. There are any number of technical approaches to playing chords on bass. You could slap, strum, tap, pop, rake etc.

    It's probably a good idea to start of with some diatonic harmony to get an understanding of how chords work though.
  13. pizzicato16


    Jan 24, 2008
    Harmonics are a good way to play chords also. You are slightly limited by the number of natural harmonics on the bass, but if you check out cats like Steve Bailey there are ways around that too.
  14. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Pretty much covered here, but I'll support that you should learn some basic harmony. Sure it's 1, 3, and 5 for a major chord, but where you voice each of the tones is very important. And once you get to 7ths, you're using all the strings you have most times so it becomes even more important to understand partials of chords.

    Just playing the 3 and b7 up high with a root down low is a great way to fill out a trio doing a blues tune. In the key of A it's lots of fun because you have the open roots for the I and V while leaving the D and G strings available for your tritones. And if you have a Hipshot on your four string, you can nail the IV chord also!

    Here's one of my favorites. Grab the F# on the G string and the A (12th fret) on the A string. Pluck those two along with the open D string and you have a nice wide voiced D chord. Shift the F# to F for a Dminor, or stretch up to the C natural for a D7.

  15. As a rule I avoid chords because they just mess it all up for the other players and can be very muddy. As with all rules, this is oftern honoured in the breach. I think big intervals sound good eg minor10th which is dead easy: same fret on the E sring as on the G string.

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