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Jazz chord voicings for 6 string

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Funkateer, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I recently added a 6'er to my stable because I want to be able to solo in the higher registers, and probably more importantly, I want to be able to comp like a guitar player sometimes. Toward that end, I'm wondering if anybody has published, or otherwise collected, chord voicings for standard jazz progressions as they relate to 6 string bass.

    I.e. ii V I, maj7 cycle, dom 7 cycle, iii VI ii V, etc?
  2. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    Because you are limited with the range of the 6 string ,and I don't know if you are tuned to the original E-F tuning or the B-C tuning, you have a number of voicing options. Get a 7 and solve the problem!
    The essential notes are always the 3 and the 7,so voicing your bass note root and adding the major or minor 3rd and major or flat 7 above that is your easiest option. In minor, your iimi7 (b5) chord requires adding a flat 5 to define the chord function. In 4 part chords,1,3 ,7 and 9,b9 ,+9 are your best voicing options.
    By restricting your chords to 3 or 4 notes that define the quality of the chord,you avoid clutter.

    So iimi7-v7-Imaj7 say in C, you could use d,f,c - g,b,f- c,e,b and 3 notes will define the changes in that key area.
  3. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I'm with you on all of that. I was hoping for something that shows nice voice leading through the changes. My best source so far has been a jazz keyboard harmony book, which among a lot of other options, has left hand shell voicings that are exactly what you describe.
  4. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    Well the nice voice leading is another aspect. If you select one of the 119 chord progressions that define modern music as outlined by Dick Grove,as you already have,you can apply the idea of retaining common tones.Doing this through these progressions should allow you to handle any situation.

    For Example you select iimi7 (b5)-V7(b9)- in minor as a progression.

    dmi7(b5) d,f,Ab,c moving to G7(b9) g,b,d,f,Ab. You see the common tones are d,f,Ab, right? You can voice the chord so the c of dmi7(b5) moves to the B of G7(b9). You change the bass notes d to g,and retain the other three.

    Use "systematic inversion" and take your top 3 or 4 strings and start at the first fret and find every playable inversion of dmi7(b5) up the fretboard .Do the same with the V7(b9) chord.

    Try doing this between the two chords.Also try the chromatic dominant approach and substitute Db7 alt. variations for the G7(b9).Then eventually resolve these to C minor 7,9,11 etc. or Cmaj. 13 (+).

    I found it was a matter of continuous practice then realized I needed 9 then 11 and now 12 strings to have the chord voicings a pianist does and still walk bass at the same time.
  5. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    I've done it, for years on a 4 string, and now a 5 (E to C). You can always find a combination of guide tones and extensions that both define the chord and create smooth voice leading. If you are playing chord melodies, then you also have to consider those notes.

    I have a book coming out soon on Mel Bay, entitled "The Art of Solo Bass" which has a number of chord melodies arranged for 4 and 5. I also have a book, "The Chordal Approach" which was written for 4 string, but since it is more conceptual innature you can easily adapt it for 5,6, or more.

  6. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    Hey Mike, is this the same book that has a transcription of "Sugar"?
  7. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Yes, that's it
  8. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    Mike, nice to see you poking your head in here.

    I recommend Mike's book. Go to his website to buy it. Helped me understand how to voice any chord I can think of fairly easily on my bass, and also helped me understand some voice leading stuff.