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The Box Shape from Ed Firedland's Bass Method book - is it correct?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by lazyhead, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. lazyhead


    Dec 27, 2012
    Hi all!

    I've started to go through Ed Friedland's Bass Method 2nd book.
    There's a chapter "The Box Shape".

    It says that "the box shape is a common four-note pattern found in all styles of bass playing".

    "C" Box (for example) layout is:


    And includes notes C-G-Bb-C

    As is seen it includes 7th step of C minor scale sequence, Bb.

    Question - what's that box pattern about?
    It includes Bb, which exist in C Minor Scale, but not in C Major Scale. So, this pattern seem to be useful when playing minor chords, no?
    But if so, what "common four-note pattern found in all styles of bass playing" is all about?

    Or am I missing something and this pattern is really useful NOT for minor only?

  2. bizbomber


    Apr 27, 2010
    Hey Lazyhead,
    The box shape Ed is talking about works in many musical situations. The one I am most familiar with is blues. Check out Little By Little -Tedesky Trucks or the box in reverse Tore Down Eric Clapton. Driven To Tears by the Police also features that line (it starts on the V but functions the same).
    As for tonality, Major or Minor the Bb works as the dominant 7th (flat 7th) so you have a major triad C E G with a minor or flat 7th on top. A lot of Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country tunes are built on Dominant 7th chords so that box shape works great. The other wonderful thing about the box shape is that it doesn't have the 3rd. So you can use it for minor or dominant chords.
    - In short the box shape works for minor and dominant chords.
    - The Bb acts as a flat or minor seventh.
    - It works well because it has no 3rd which leaves the tonality up to the chording instrument.
    Hope this helped. Happy Holidays!
  3. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    it gives you the C7 chord ... so it is a pentatonic pattern, which is everywhere. Ed just leave the 3rd out.
  4. I am guessing that the numbers listed are suggested fingerings, not frets; that is, specifically, that is not tab notation.

    First finger on the 3rd fret, A string, is C. Fourth finger on 5th fret, D string, is G. Third fret G string is Bb, and 5th feet G string is C again, an octave higher. With that interpretation it is correct.

    In Ed's book it's actually in music notation, right, with the numbers over the notes? If that is the case the numbers represent suggested fingerings, not frets/tab notation.

    As for a Bb implying C minor, that is incorrect. It just implies either a C7 or a Cmin7 (or even more extensions) and no third is specified. In lots of pop music this pattern will work even over a straight C major because our ears are so accustomed to blues idioms where using a dom7 chord for a tonic is ok.
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    There are all kinds of patterns. For example Scott Devine's three basic patterns are different than Ed's. Dose that make Ed's wrong? No. When using Ed's book use his patterns, when using Scott's lessons use his patterns. Put both into your memory tank and call on each as you need them.

    Think of those patterns as being good examples of safe do no wrong patterns, learn them and file them away to be called up when ever needed. Just more tools in the tool box.
  6. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    that pattern will work over a minor 7th chord or over a dominant 7th chord. works great in most blues songs, and a good number of rock songs.

    when you can't get away with playing the dominant 7th note over a particular chord, substitute the 6th (1,5,6,8) to keep a similar pattern going.
  7. jobo4


    Apr 19, 2006
    Austin, TX
    As a rule, if EF puts it in a book, it's correct. Ed is the real deal and a super nice guy.
  8. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Lol been playing that shape way before i k.ew it had a name or shape,,, basic blues progression i thought and country too
  9. lazyhead


    Dec 27, 2012
    Guys, thanks so much! My problem was that due to lack of knowledge, I thought that C7 chord has 7th step of C Major - B.

    HolmeBass - yep, this was not a tab. Sorry for confusion :)

    Art Araya - when 1,5,6,8 is used? Does 1,5,6,8 stand for C-G-A-C in case of C? Is it some chord (or part of)? (Maybe I ask this question too early - I'm only 3-4 months in it).

    Thanks and Happy Holidays!
  10. You are welcome.

    You are correct- 1,5,6,8 is C-G-A-C in the key of C. It isn't really a chord, I guess some might argue a C6, but that's not how I would usually think of it. It is a very common set of notes that will work over C when the 7 (Bb) doesn't sound good. Like in country music, gospel, or old-time rock 'n roll.

    I don't know if you're familiar with The Eagles, but their tune "Long Run" uses a 1-1-6-5, 1-6-5-6 riff over major chords, but starting on the high octave; so given Ed's framework I guess "8-6-5-6" would be the way to say it.

    I think the real take home here is leaving the 3rd out of your bass line leaves the harmony open and easy for others to deal with because it can be major, minor or indeterminate (which really means both... usually major in chording instruments and minor in the solo or melody lines).

    Another way to look at this is how much more important timing and rhythm are to effective bass lines than the notes are. Note selection can be used just to emphasize the rhythm, and you can get a lot of mileage out of some very harmonically simple patterns. If it feels good it is good.
  11. ericicf


    Mar 11, 2012
    lazyhead a short google or wiki on Nashville Notation will clear all this up for you :)
    using intervals will get around the fretboard faster and help transposing in diffferent keys.
  12. Rickengeezer


    Feb 25, 2005
    Central Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Steve Clayton Accessories
    I understand the box, but not this thread!

    So, the OP shows a string diagram--one that is apparently NOT tab--with "1-4-1-4" on it, which doesn't seem to be Nashville Notation, because 1-4-1-4 in Nashville notation as diagrammed on those strings doesn't make anything resembling a "box". So, another posted hypothesis is that those are fingering assignments....but that seems strange to me also. Whenever I play a 1-5 or an octave, I will almost always use fingers 1 and 3, not 1 and 4 (maybe this is unusual, but I don't think so). So, I still don't really understand the OP's diagram.
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    The diagram is for 1-2-4 fingering, I believe.
  14. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    As I mentioned before, those patterns contain the generic, do no wrong notes. Sometime it helps to see the pattern. Look where they are in the following major scale pattern.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Use the major scale box and then make up some
    bass lines patterns that you can count on. 

    OK do no wrong notes --

    Major Chords
    • The 1 or R root. Every chord has one. So it's generic and can be used with any chord.
    • The 5, every chord has one, except the diminished will have a flat 5 and the augmented will have a sharp 5. BUT, how often do you run up on diminished or augmented chords? Not often so it's kinda generic.
    • The 6 is a neutral note and fits well with major chords, If you are playing under a major chord help yourself to some 6's.
    • The 8 is just a 1 or R root in the next octave so it is generic.

    So any combination of the 1, 5, 6 or 8 is going to fit with any major chord and still be neutral as to your bass line being major or minor - as there is no 3 in there. Add the 3 and you are generic to all major chords.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---[B]R[/B]---|-------|---2---|4th string
    If you add the 3 which is generic to all major chords
    your pattern should now look familar.

    The 6 works well with major chords and then the b7 works well with the minor chords ........ just remember what chord you are playing under. As the 6 is part of the major pentatonic, the 4 is part of the minor pentatonic, so the 4 will work well, as a passing note, with your minor chords.

    Minor chords -- the 1, 5, b7 & 8 are the generic notes for your minor chords and the b3 note gives it the minor sound - if you want to identify the minor sound.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---[B]R[/B]---|-------|---2---|4th string
    If you add the 4 which is part of the minor pentatonic
    scale your "do no wrong" pattern should look familar.
    If you add the b3 you are still generic to all minor chords.
    My b3 is the next fret after the 2, same string.

    Think of these being generic safe notes and then put them into a box pattern that you find comfortable.
  15. edfriedland


    Sep 14, 2003
    Austin, TX
    The "box shape" is applicable to Dominant 7 and Minor 7 chords, but it also is a fragment of the Minor Pentatonic scale which is the basis of a lot of rock and pop music. There is no third in the pattern, so it steers clear of defining major or minor tonalities, making it work over either. But a common "mistake" in rock music is to use this pattern over major triads where there should be a Major 7. However, this has been done for so many years, and exists on so many time-honored recordings that it has become acceptable to many.

    The box shape is just one of many possible patterns that can be used for a bass line. There are many variations of it, but it doesn't apply to every situation. If you're playing blues, or rock, or funk, you'll find it very handy. For more info on the Pentatonic Scale... check out my book Pentatonic Scales For Bass. Thanks.
  16. lazyhead


    Dec 27, 2012
    One again, thanks a lot! Didn't expect that I'll get answer from Ed himself too :)
  17. edfriedland


    Sep 14, 2003
    Austin, TX
    No problem!
  18. kudzoorude


    Oct 31, 2007
    Jackson, MS
    I love this site. Ed answered a question in a discussion about his teaching. Awesome? I think yes!
  19. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC

    Know that a minor scale can have a major 7th OR a minor 7th (dominant 7) in it. Just because a chord is minor doesn't mean that it always uses a flatted 7th (dominant 7). But, the flatted 7th is more common. Yet, there is such a thing as a minor major7th chord (e.g.-- Cm(maj.7) = C Eb G B), whereas Cm7 = C Eb G Bb. Also, the term "dominant seven" usually does apply to a major triad that has a flatted 7 added (like in a V7 chord). In the case of a c chord that would be C E G Bb.