Playing simple Bass riffs with guitar chords

Discussion in 'Ask David Overthrow' started by azkyeh, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. azkyeh


    Jan 25, 2009
    I'm having a problem with playing the bass with just the guitar chords. I know i'm supposed to play root notes but the things that confuse me are the all the sharp's,minors,number like F#m7, and the "sus". How am i supposed to play chords on the bass with all these different attachments on them?!
  2. This is a good question. The roots are the first and most basic note choice. Then you can add the 5th, then the 3rd. At this point you are outlining the chord sound. Think of the roots and the 5th as the meat and potatoes of a meal. Then, if playing on a 7th chord you can incorporate the 7th into your bass line. After you have explored the possibilities of chord tones you can move on to chord scales to help make the line more interesting. Every chord in music has at least one (usually more than) scale you can use to play over it. The Mixolydian Mode (dominant chords) Dorian mode (minor chords) and major scale or major pentatonic (over major chords) is a good start. I suggest you become familiar with chord types and learn about chord scales. I have several books that discuss and explore this subject matter. If interested let me know and I'll shoot you the names.

  3. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years

    May 3, 2008
    Playing the root, 5th and 7th are pretty natural for a bass guitarist and in most cases it works. When you get more comfortable and the arrangement can handle it then you can branch out to those flat 9ths, 11ths and play them as passing tones between the roots and 5ths.

    One of my 'go to' arpeggios (long string of notes) is to take the last two intervals in a chord, say F#m7 then the C# (5th) and the E (7th) and play 4ths from there (A-D-G-C-F-A#, etc). When added onto the 'chord' they begin to sound like flatted 9th's etc.

    Practice them for awhile and they begin to sound good.

  4. Woodell


    Jan 13, 2009
    Newport News, VA
    I think the original poster is asking about how to differentiate the root notes from the chords.

    In simple terms, you strip most of the "attachments" off. In the case of F#m for example, the root note is F#. For Dsus2, the root note is simply D.

    I play guitar as well as bass so I'm used to the chords but you will catch on pretty quickly. The only possible notes are A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G and G#. There are flats as well but they are basically due to a different notation as far as we're concerned here. For example, an A# is the same note as a Bb and a G# is the same as an Ab. I prefer to look at sharps rather than flats so I'll often change then in my notes but I'm getting used to both now. For a sharp you go up one fret (toward the bridge) and for a flat you go down one (toward the headstock).

    I hope this helps.

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