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Improvising to guitar chord progression

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Komakino, Dec 29, 2005.

  1. Hi all,

    My bro and I like to have a bit of a jam, usually to someone else's songs that he knows the chords to. Usually he calls me in to his room and asks me to put a bassline to something so he can play, which I don't mind cos it gets me playing. Trouble is, beyond playing the roots and occasionally bouncing to the fifth or something, I don't really know what to do. How do you go about making a more interesting bass line?

    I know the basic shape of the Major scale, but not an aweful lot else, though my general music theory isn't too bad because I also play the clarinet (which has helped a great deal with my ear, incidentally). What should I go about learning? My brother's a pretty good improvisor on the guitar and I'd like to get better at improv. on the bass.

    Thanks all,

  2. A little chord theory wouldn´t hurt. Knowing what notes make up diffrent chords is a great start for improvising over diffrent chordprogressions.
  3. Do you mean knowing, for example, that basic major chords are composed of the root, 3rd and 5th? Can you elaborate on that?


  4. Yes that would be the basic stuff. Try practicing minor/major chord patterns involving 3rd´s 5th´s and 7th´s. One thing about 7th notes though. Just because you are playing under a major chord doesn´t mean that the major 7th will sound good. There is a sneaky think called natural 7th that can fool you.

    One thing also. No guideline in bassline constructing is an absolute truth. It is a general blueprint that you can stray from how often as you like.

    Also learning scales and modes will increase your ability to improvise under chordpatterns
  5. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    When you hear a chord, there is scale that will work with it. The harmonically least interesting note you can play is the root...however, sometimes that's what's called for. You need to really learn your major and minor scales, then you can start moving the bass around within a chord and start to come up with interesting things to play.
  6. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    All the theory stuff is very good, and you should learn as much as you can.

    That said, you're lucky to be living with someone you can jam with. Don't get hung up on all the theory, but do make sure you know what chords your bro is playing. Know what notes you are playing, and stop playing notes that don't sound good to you with the chords your brother is playing.

    Copy some bass lines off records that you like. It will take a while. Don't worry about making mistakes, and don't put yourself down for trying things that don't work out. Keep experimenting.

    The most important thing is to listen and pay attention. And have an opinion.