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What to play over specific guitar chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by busta_bird, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. busta_bird


    Mar 11, 2010
    Lexington, KY
    This is a very newbie-ish question, so bare with me.

    Let's say the guitar plays an Asus, G2, D, Bm7, Bm9, (Key D) etc... How do you determine what to play with these chords? I'm assuming I'd play a D when the guitarist plays a D chord, but I'm confused with the rest. I've played bass for a while, but typically by ear (and not very well). I've picked up a few books that I'm working through, but still on the search for a good instructor. Care to help me out a bit?
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I guess you're looking for a more sophisticated answer than, "Play whatever sounds good?" :p
  3. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    What's a "G2"?
  4. busta_bird


    Mar 11, 2010
    Lexington, KY
    Haha. Maybe just a bit. I'd like to get out of a rut and actually learn the basics. Grad school ate up all of my time so now I can focus on actually learning the instrument instead of noodling around and looking at tabs. I'm going to start playing at a local church, hence the question about some general chords.

    I love Knoxville btw. Ever get over to Gatlinburg?
  5. Yeah thats what i said
  6. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    To answer your question, think in terms of triads and maybe the 7th. You don't need to worry about the 9s. You're probably going to want to emphasize the root notes of each chord (A, G, D, B). The rest is flavour, keeping in mind whether your triad is major or minor (or a sus chord). What kind music are you playing? Is it more riff based or will be be playing walking lines?
  7. busta_bird


    Mar 11, 2010
    Lexington, KY
    I'm not familiar with it. I assumed it was just my lack of knowledge. Here's what I'm looking at:

    Attached Files:


    AQUANOVA Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Santa Monica
    This is a very broad question.

    Do you understand how chords are constructed?

    Also, what type of music are we talking about?
  9. Several ways to go on this. Here is a starter.

    1/ I'd look for some fake chord sheet music on the song. Why? I would like to know how long that Asus chord is active, i.e. how many beats will that chord hang around. That will give me an idea how many notes of the Asus chord (A-D-E) to use. If the song is in 4/4 time just four A quarter notes may work OK. Or A-D-E-A may be called for - four 1/4 notes to fill the measure.

    Then I would decide how many of the chord's notes to use in my bass line.
    Asus has these chord tones A-D-E
    G2, has these chord tones G-A-D
    D, has these chord tones D-F#-A
    Bm7, has these chord tones B-D-F#-A
    Bm9, has these chord tones B,D,(F#),A,C# The F# is normally omitted - the rhythm guitar guys only have four fingers -- as they will not be playing the F# and it is the 5th, you may want to put it in your bass line.


    OK right at first just use the root or name of the chord. For the Asus chord just play A notes for as many beats as the chord is active. Do the same with the G2 chord - just play a G note for as many beats as the chord is active. When you can do that and the music does not go off and leave you - then add the root and the fifth note.
    Asus -- A, B, C, D, E - E is the fifth note so play A on beat 1 and the E on beat 3.

    Fake chord sheet music will have the lyrics with the chord name over the lyrics that it is harmonizing. Usually one note per lyric word works out. Two syllable words get two notes.

    Now I cheat and use the major scale box pattern. Place the box pattern's R (root note) over the chord's name note on your fretboard and all notes in that scale are waiting for you. Place the R over the A note on the 4th string 5th fret and the 4th and 5th await you. Asus = R-4-5 intervals of the A major scale.

    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string 
    You picked some sophisticated chords, normally its not this hard.

    OK ask specific questions from here.
  10. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I've never encountered a "2" chord. Maybe I just don't read enough charts! :p Before going any further, do you know how to build a chord? If I talk about triads and extensions does that mean anything to you?
  11. To be very basic, ignore all the sus, minor, 2, 9 etc and just play the letter name of the chord. The root notes. In your example A G D B B. .

    It won’t sound awful and it will get you jamming in no time. To change things up a bit, learn where 5th is in relation to these to these roots. It'll be the same fret on the string below or 2 frets over on the string above. In most cases the 5th will be the same regardless of the fanciness following the letter name of the chord.

    If you look through most threads Malcolm Amos posts a regular explanation of Roots & Fifths and beyond that you need to know.

    AQUANOVA Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Santa Monica
    The song you are playing is a Praise song.

    You can stick to roots and maybe add a little movement with fifths or octaves.

    Don't over play by trying to hit every note in the chord.

    Play simple, play with feel, play in the pocket.

    Good luck
  13. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Very nice of you, Malcolm, to take the time to be so thorough.
  14. No problem, nothing on TV - glad to have something to occupy my time.

    OK here is your fake chord:

    Just using roots. Sing the lyrics under your breath - I know it's hard, but necessary. Start with the A note and when you get to the word casting start using the G note. Keep going with the G till you get to the word Cares then change to the D note --- keep going. One note per lyric word. Two syllable words get two notes.

    That's a lot of chords. Key of D main major chords are D, G & A. You may want to skip over (ignore) some of those Bm's and Em's. I won't tell. LOL I dumb down all of Willie Nelson's songs.

    Good luck.

    AQUANOVA Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Santa Monica
    Here's the tune.
    Today is the Day

    It's simple.
    Don't over think it.
    Use roots.
    On the verse I would add a fill at the E7 chords.
    That could be your fun part.
  16. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    they handed me that same exact chord sheet one sunday morning about 20 minutes before I had to play it, and I had only heard the song once or twice before ... that sheet made no sense to me ... the intro to that song is D/Bm/A/G x2 for all intents and purposes, thats the whole song ... and once I realized to drop that into the verse starting on key words, it made quick sense .. look for where this progression fits into the lyrics, and try to use that as your reference to start your 'phrases' ... another words, play it as if the first Asus and G2 (on that sheet in the verse) werent there, the intro leads right into the D chord ... its a simple song once you get this chord sheet out of your way ... if you want to keep it really simple, you can play the entire song and never leave the E string and it sounds just fine, add that occassional 5th on your descend though ... :)
  17. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    I do get sad when I see charts with G2 on it.

    There are two main types of "G with a 2 in it" chord, and saying G2 does not make it clear which is intended:

    Gadd2 (G major with a 2 note added: G A B D). This chord is better written as "add9".
    Gsus2 (a G chord that's been gutted. It isn't major or minor any more. It has G A D)

    The lesson:
    (1) never write a G2 chord
    (2) when you're on bass and see a G2 chord, play a G.
  18. FreshTrooperXBL


    Jul 24, 2011
    I dont even know that much theory, but I saw this and ran thru your two options. Debated myself for awhile trying to figure it out. Wonder what the composer tried describe to us with "G2"?
  19. The way I learned it, staring on a keyboard, is that a "2" chord is the root, second note, & fifth note. So G2 is G A D as opposed to G, which is GBD, or Gm, which is GBbD. If you have a keyboard, or at least access to one, try playing the major, minor, and 2 chords and see how you like the sound. I think it sounds cool.
  20. Yes sus chords are cool. They lead nicely into the parent chord, for example:

    C, Csus2, Csus4, C is a great ending --- for the rhythm guitar guys. Not so much for us bassists.

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