Playing lower notes in 1st position below the root?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Groovin1122, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. Groovin1122


    Apr 16, 2020
    I understand my scales and arpeggios starting at the root and ascending or descending and ending at the root. I also know the 5th is the same fret just a lower string. But how do I think about playing the notes a string lower? Like if I am playing in the Key of D in the first position that is the 5th fret of the A. But let's say I am playing the open E, the F# A, and B, all on the E string. My brain isn't wrapping around what is happening here interval or pattern/shape-wise...
  2. My advice would be to think in the terms of scales degrees to begin with and start doing a lot of spelling drills for your scales and chord tones. And the good thing about spelling drills is that you don't even need to have your bass in hand to practice.
  3. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    What you say seem to indicate that you don't know your fingerboard well enough and that you are locked into playing some rigid pentatonic patterns.

    Ideally you should be able to play any note at any time anywhere on the fingerboard.

    You can do this: pick a chord (say D), locate where all the notes of the chord (D, F#, A) are on the entire finger board, and play all of them very slowly. Don't run the arpeggios in order up and down, instead play notes that are not close from each, in some kind of random order. Then do that for all other chords of your tune. Then do the same with all the scales of your tune. Ultimately do it for all possible chords and scales.

    Do it as long as necessary until you can noodle like this smoothly, always knowing what are the notes you are playing and what scale or chord degree they are. Do this as slowly as you need to.
  4. Petethebassman


    Mar 7, 2008
    Solid advice so far; I'll add studying chord inversions is good for expanding your understanding of chords and from looking at things only from a root-oriented perspective. Start with the triads.
    HolmeBass, LBS-bass and FatStringer52 like this.
  5. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    I had the same mind freeze. Always thought up not down.

    Major scale box showing scale degree
    numbers and the root note on the 4th string.
    G~~|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E~~|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Yes I know the 5th of the root is down a string.
    But never thought of grabbing 1/2 of the scale down....

    C on the A string ---- C-D-E-F now go down to the E string for the G-A-B-C.

    That was a WOW for me. Nothing original from my part. Got it from a post several days ago and can not find it now - to give the OP credit. Maybe someone will pull up the post. Had good charts, etc.

    Found it. It is the 23 post in this string: Basic theory Question Thanks Wolfhound23.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  6. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    This is a good example of I call being locked in a position: considering as potential notes to be played only the notes that fit into your current position, i.e. ignoring the notes on the E string that are lower than the G: E and F.

    This is a non-necessary limitation to your playing.

    You should play whatever note you pre-hear as appropriate, no matter where it is located on your fingerboard, and not limit yourself to notes that fall under your fingers. But you will be able to pre-hear all this possible notes only if you incorporate this "open" type of playing in your practice.

    Sure, there is no point playing with restless shifting all over the neck, but it is good to be able to shift anywhere at any time to reach the notes that the music is calling for. A solid knowledge of the fingerboard is essential for this.
    HolmeBass, MonetBass and TrevorR like this.
  7. Govner22


    Jan 19, 2013
    Here’s a tip I find interesting: imagine for the root note that your bass has a string lower than the E, and then use the pattern you already know to find the third, fourth and fifth of the scale on the E string and the seventh and octave on the A string.

    HolmeBass and bassboysam like this.
  8. Groovin1122


    Apr 16, 2020
    This is exactly what I was looking for. I understand the concepts, shapes, intervales etc.. but just was having a hard time visualizing it when going down a string. Thank you all for your replies!

    I was using these lower notes in some bass lines and I didn't want to just memorize the line but instead understand what I am doing around the chord.
    factory presets and Govner22 like this.
  9. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Its the same exact thing as walking up the strings. Minor third is 3 frets up, major 3rd is 4, etc. Every note is in multiples of 12. 7 frets and 5 for a string up or down.
  10. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    This is exactly why I always suggest practicing scales and arpeggios in all keys and all positions, 2 FULL octaves up and down. Need to get fluent with the fretboard.
    Papageno likes this.
  11. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    When you get into the lowest octave, intervals closer than an octave will, depending on your rig, cause intermodulation products that are really low in frequency - net result is mud. this is particularly true on a 5 or 6 string. As you go higher, you can play 5ths, and get away with it. Still further up, 4ths or 3rds become usable. You have to be aware of where you are to know what intervals are usable and what intervals aren't, or you'll detract from the sound of the band, rather than helping it.

    When you're down low, inversions (just playing the 3rd of a minor chord, for example) can be usable and nice flavors, provided you don't play the root at the same time.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  12. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Up one string, up two frets. Open E string, obviously is the E; the 5th is B which is 2nd fret on the A string. F# is 2nd fret E string, 5th is C# which is 4th fret A string. Repeat as necessary. The 5th is same fret, the next lower string (which you know), OR next higher string and up two frets.

    However, I agree with everyone that you need to learn the fingerboard.
    bassdude51 likes this.
  13. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    Don't lock yourself into thinking that the scale or pattern has to start or end on the octave or root, has to be ascending or descending. That's a great way to learn the notes but leaves you with a sterile sounding riff. Bop around some. Throw some random triplets in there as well.
    Papageno and Groovin1122 like this.
  14. Groovin1122


    Apr 16, 2020
    thank you all! I have put some effort into learning my fingerboard. Running the cycle of 4ths on one string and in different positions. Just more so trying to visualize what is happening when I go down a string is what I was getting at. I appreciate everyone's advice! =)
  15. Plain Old Barry

    Plain Old Barry Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2018

    It's worth mentioning that starting a scale on a note other than the root is a mode.

    For example, Dorian mode starts on the 2nd, but uses the same notes as the scale it's named from.

    C Major = C-D-E-F-G-A-B - Intervals = W-W-H-W-W-W-H
    C Dorian = D-E-F-G-A-B-C - Intervals = W-H-W-W-W-H-W

    D Major = D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#
    D Dorian = E=F#-G-A-B-C#-D

    Notice the notes and intervals don't change, the pattern of them simply rotates. All scales and modes continue up AND down, as long as the notes exist on your instrument.

    It's a similar idea to relative minors. A minor is relative to C, so A minor = A-B-C-D-E-F-G. Notice it's the same notes and intervals as C Major, starting on A. The relative minor happens to be Aeolian mode.

    Music theory is a study in itself, applicable to all tonal instruments, and well worth classroom time and tuition if you can find a local college or music school that offers it to part time students. If you're in High School, some schools offer it as an elective. It's usually taught around a keyboard for better visualization.

    I'm far from a theory expert, it's a rabbit hole that can engulf you, excite you, and sometimes bore you to sleep. However, the basics of scale and chord construction, modes, the Circle of Fifths, rhythmic concepts, etc... Can help you improvise and create better, and you'll learn to hear and recognize intervals and patterns enabling you to pick up songs far faster.

    And then... you'll learn all rules are made to be broken for the sake of art. ;)
    bassdude51 likes this.
  16. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    To me, this is one of the main advantages of playing a 5 string. If I'm playing in something like G, having the lower D as a 5th can come off really well in some cases. I think that lots of people get into 5 strings to play lower roots (especially without down or drop tuning) - very handy for some songs in Eb or D. However, catching the extension notes below can be cool too. Similarly, I was recently playing something in A, starting at the root (A) and was adding a chromatic walk between the 3rd to 5th (C#, D, D#, E). It also worked well when playing the same notes an octave down on the B string. Like all things with the B string, it can be overused, but adding in the lower notes can be a nice spice of life.
    M0ses likes this.
  17. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    What makes a mode or a scale is not where the scale starts or stops. That is a widely spread misconception and modes and scales are open ended on both sides. A D Dorian tune is not some music played on white keys between a D and the next D. What makes the D Dorian mode is that it has D has its tonic. The tonic is the center around which the music revolves. The tonic is expressed by receiving particular emphasis: by being played more frequently than other notes, by specific rhythmic placement, accents, by being played as the conclusion of phrases, etc. So you could play between G and G and still be playing D Dorian.
    Plain Old Barry and M0ses like this.
  18. Discount Bassy

    Discount Bassy Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2020
    Right Here.
    Practice scale shapes starting with the top note on the G string and work down until you are out of notes.
    mambo4 likes this.
  19. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles

    This is what did it for me. Explanation starts about 2:40
  20. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    once you get a strong grip of identifying the exact interval (quality/quantity such as major 6, minor 7, etc) you need to practice them going backwards.

    from D up to F is a minor third, but from F up to D is a major 6th. learning them in both directions is annoying at first, but it's simple once you put a little time into it.

    as far as practical applications, for electric bass in most situations you are better off knowing your chord tones really well. If you are playing a D major triad, any placement of a D, F#, or A will be a chord tone. obviously hanging onto a low F# will make for awful results generally, but letting your bassline move and incorporating that note (or chord tones in general, above or below your root) can be really effective in giving the music some momentum.