Playing the bass guitar is one of the most popular pastimes nowadays. For many people, it is also a way of expressing themselves and it elevates the hobby into an art form or sometimes, science.
Playing the bass guitar, however, is not a joke. It requires a lot of practice and patience.
Lead guitars usually play on high pitch or notes, and the rhythm guitars cover often the mid-range of notes. Bass guitars generally round out this typical sound by going with the low-end notes. Good knowledge over bass guitar may help one to be the part of any band. As you are going to present music to your audience, bass guitar along with other instrument and drums helps you to create the best rhythmic foundation for your music piece.
Chords of the bass guitar are a known term of the musicians. Many use the bass guitar chords to compose most melodious music.
Understanding Bass Guitar Chords is the Key Element to Mastering the Bass Guitar. When you teach yourself guitar especially the bass guitar, it should be a magnificent experience that may fill you with the joy of mental satisfaction and great achievement.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Chord?
- 2 Differences between chords and scales
- 3 What is a Chord Inversion?
- 4 How Do You Read a Chord Chart?
What is a Chord?
Chords are usually the building blocks of music, and knowing all of them can become a shortcut to learning any song ever written. Most people learn bass guitar playing by reading sheet music, and they learn an entire music piece note by note. By knowing your chords, one can learn a piece just from its melody, and thus there’s a lot less to have to figure out. Chords are the actually a harmonic set of these two or more notes. For the bass guitarists, the chord is actually the set of three notes.
If you are the learner of bass guitar, you should understand the music notes first as your wish is to discover more on guitar chords.
A chord is a triad, usually made up of 3 or 4 notes, where you skip a note to create each triad, like C, E, and G. They also can have one of 4 qualities: major, minor, augmented or diminished. The simplest of pieces are usually made up of only two chords, the tonic, and the dominant, also known as I and V.
Scales of music are usually the sequences of different notes that create a good melody as they strung together. Chords can be different minor, major, dominant or suspended and diminished. With the seven chords, there are also the basic chords. Triad or the basic chords are the blends of 3 different notes.
Let’s find out something more about chords:
If you are going to learn bass guitar, you should start it on C scale, which is a major scale. It is really important to know all the major and minor chords to start the learning process.
The two core chord types that you will need to know are major and minor. These are the two most commonly used chord types and they appear in nearly every piece of music. The major chord has a happy and bright sound and the minor has a sadder sound. It is important to learn to tell these two apart.
To play the major and minor bass guitar chords you first need to understand how the bass scales work.
By understanding the major scale of the bass you will be able to construct easily the notes of major chords and minor chords in any of the key. The chord formulas for the major and minor chord are 1, 3, 5 and 1, b3, 5. These means that to construct a major chord we take the first, third and fifth notes of the relative scale and play them together to form the chord.
The minor chord is the same as a major but comes with flatten third. This means that you need to play the third note of the scale and move it down half a step (one fret) to flatten it. It consists of the lowered 3rd, first and fifth note actually.
If you want to create the diminished triad, just start playing the minor chord and flatten out the fifth one, so if you are playing the diminished chord, you need to play, root note(c), flatten third(EB) and flatten fifth (GB). This sound is known as unstable or dissonant.
This is known as the sus chord. In this triad, you need to replace the 3rd note with 2nd major note and 4th perfect note, like you want to play the sus chord C; you have to play root note(c), perfect 4th (f) and fifth note (g). Sus chord creates generally louder sound but it comes out with some tension.
If you are starting playing guitar from the fifth or G key, you are creating the dominant chord.
The foremost dominant chord group embraces the primary or most crucial dominant of the main key and also its substitute VII. So in the type of major C, the result will be B and G7 and these types of the chord will range from G7 to G13 and G7sus4.
Tetrad or the seven chord takes a major part is the modern music. It actually one note beyond the basic cords and a little bit more complicated.
Differences between chords and scales
Chords and scales, both are specific groups of musical notes but yes, there are some differences between these two.
A chord can be played with four different music notes at a time.
But scales are the set of seven different notes. In scale, each note plays individually. Chords can be associated often different piece of the scale as it contains a number of notes.
Scales and chords, both are different notes but come out as different presentations for each music piece.
How Do Bassists Use Chords?
All the bassists don’t learn the method to play chords as they don’t feel this is important for their regular guitar practice. But, bass guitarists, who love to make their music stand alone from others, play the chords.
Chords playing are the key for star players to enhance their quality of music. For the solo guitarists, chord playing is really important. Knowing the chords of a bass guitar is the plus point for any guitarists; it helps them to make their own bass line more interesting and definitive. They come with the knowledge that what to play and how to play the right chords.
A bass guitar and bassists play a major role to round out the music of your band; they can enhance and support the other music of another instrument.
Knowing the chords better and applying them on music is something that can enhance the musical knowledge of one and it enhances the harmonic abilities of the player by picking up the best for making their music more impactful.
For the star bassists, knowing the chord is the way to create their own bass line. All the scales and notes compliment those chords only.
Knowing the chords, one can achieve more skills while they need to play with other instruments within the proper bass line.
The Best Way to Voice Chords on Bass
If you play chord together, you can get the sound “muddied” on your bass guitar. If you want to stop the issue, you need to go for solo guitar playing program, but not need to play with the other guitarists.
One should outline the notes to make the sound more creative rather playing the different notes together on a bass guitar. With the process, you will be able to present your music in a more interesting way.
Generally, people use music for the purpose of “talk”. So, if the guitar like to say “cat”, a bassist will use the chords for saying that but is the guitarist need to say “CAT”, they will spell it like “C-A-T”. You can see that both instruments are saying the same thing, but surely with different approaches. While the guitar presents it in a direct way, bass presents the same thing in an interesting way.
A bass guitar player can voice best with the best use of chord tones and patterns but not the set of notes. Let’s find out about chord tones and patterns:
Chord tones are generally some individual notes that use generally to make up a particular chord but it never denotes the proper order.
Chord patterns are the much-known term for the players who play chords on the fretboard. Chord patterns are the specific sequences of music notes.
It is possible to play the chords on the traditional guitar; these notes are typically set on the low end but the chord not sound properly as the notes are played together on your bass guitar.
If you know the right way of playing the tones of the chord, you will know better the way of defining the every chord pattern. If you need to play different notes on your bass guitar, you need to be more careful otherwise you will get a muddy sound from it. If you have proper knowledge of playing the chord on a bass guitar, you will be able to play it properly to present an impactful and impressive sound like the expert guitarists.
If you play the low-end notes, there will be the chances of notes clash; notes can clash with each other due to the low frequencies of sound. It is really important to spread out the notes and you can pick up some notes on the octaves of high frequencies or you can play the chords on the higher end of your guitar neck.
Open and Moveable Bass Guitar Chords
As you are learning to play the bass guitar, you need to have good understandings of the movable chords and open chords. Now you should know more about the open and moveable chords. Open chords are generally played on the initial four or three frets and they are much easier for the guitarists to understand and play for the guitarists as they come with some easy to play open strings. These strings are few from some first chords that one will be master of, as they are learning the bass guitar playing.
Moveable chords can be slid up and slid down next to your bass guitar. Moveable chords can be used usually to play the same chords included various root notes. The basic open chords should be the first thing to learn to play on your Bass guitar.
Now come to the finger position, you need the same finger position for the C and A major chords, and at any places of the neck of your bass guitar. You can even play the moveable chords together like the other chords as well. But like the open chords, they really sound in an impressive way as the music notes play differently on your bass guitar.
You can find here our another article about Importance of Finger Exercises for Beginner Guitar Players
Practice is the most significant factor in playing the bass guitar with such notes. Never expect to become an expert overnight, because it never happens.
What is a Chord Inversion?
Using chord inversions can make your chord changes sound much smoother and more professional.
This article is not aimed actually at the total beginner but if you can play already the common chords, then a little amount of work to find the chord tones on the fretboard is all that’s required to make a huge difference to the sound of your chord changes.
Chord inversions are usually created as the lowest pitched note (bass note) in the chord is anything other than the root. Let’s us use the C major triad for an example. All the triads or major chords are created from the third, first, and fifth degrees of a major scale. In the C major scale, the notes are like C-D-E-F-G-A-B; C chord (major) comes with the C-E-G notes.
C is obviously the root note for the C major chord and if this is played as the bass tone then we say the chord is in the root position. The second note is here E. If this is used in the bass then we can say that the chord is played in the first inversion. If G is used in the bass then the chord is usually said to be played in the second inversion. This same idea can proceed for extended chords. For example, Cmaj7 consists of the notes C-E-G-B. If we put B in the bass then the chord will be in the third inversion and so on. The inversion is indicated only by the bass tone, but the other notes can be any order.
What is a Chord Progression?
Harmonic progression or the chord progression occurs usually when you need to play the chords in succession. Bass guitar chord progressions are more like baby brothers – you cannot even escape from them and they take some explaining. This also includes the chord inversion and other chords for the players to create a perfect bass line.
Bass guitar chord “progressions” are definite sequences of chords that sound so good together that they are used as the musical basis of many songs.
Chord progressions are derived from the musical scales like C D E F G A B C. This is the C major scale that is used very often in the music. It is just a sequence of notes with no sharps or flats notes and that makes it easy to use to teach music students the actual principles of music. When you study chord progressions, you need to think of these letters as chords instead of any single notes. If you number the chords from one to seven we can work in a practical way with the chords in any key as the basic principles are same. The most commonly used chord progression is the “I-V-vi-IV”. Musicians generally use the roman numerals for the annotation of harmonic analysis and it helps the students to understand and note down the chord progression easily. To indicate the major chords, we use the uppercase roman numbers and lowercase numbers are for diminished and minor ones.
If you write down the chords as numbers you may face the problem of getting the numbers denoting the chords and will get confused with numbers that are used in the names of the chords. If you are working with the chord B7 and you do not want to stop but need to think what “77” means, it can be difficult and so people use the Roman numerals to number the chords. This way, B7 is named as VII7. So, the chords are named with Roman numerical. Before sequences through the bass guitar progression, one needs to set a proper base. Some of the musicians or band plays the song on the basis of chord progression only or some apply the chord progression on some major parts of a song only. Use of the chord progression depends completely on the musician but it will surely help you to create a cohesive and complete tone and sounds.
What is a Chord Chart?
There are several ways of music transcription and the most common ways are chord charts and lead sheets.
These charts come with the harmonic and rhythmic intricacies of music pieces. Knowledge of guitar chords is essential for those who want to join the commercial music industry or wish to improve their guitar skills.
Guitar chord charts are presented usually in the form of notations in the charts. These notations are symbolic and known as harmony. On these types of chart, a rhythm notation defines the way in that you will play the guitar. The written chords are known as staff and that indicate the rhythm of a song while the pitch is represented by the slashes that are placed at the center line. With the chart, you will get a complete picture of your music.
Chord charts present only to provide the chord symbols and lyrics that you need to play but not the melody.
How Do You Read a Chord Chart?
Chord symbols and the chords in the standard notation, these are two easy methods of reading the chord charts. In the standard notation, chords are more like the traditional music sheet that stack three different chords together on your music bar.
Chord symbols are quite different and you will find two components of the chord symbols, chord root note and surely the note quality. Fist one defines the way that how the chord has been created. The second indicates different types of a chord like diminished, major or minor. Chord includes N.C and slashes too.
You should find a chord chart to start with the bass clef, slashes and chord symbols on the music bar. Slashes mean that the musician can “make something up “if you are playing the guitar with a group, you will understand to follow the right beat with the slash and it will help you to determine the chord to use for your music and what goes right with the instruments.
Lack of symbol
On certain places, you will find that there is no chord symbol on the music bar but this not means that you need to stop or rest there but it means that you can continue with the same chord that you were playing already.
N.C means “no chord” on your music note but it does not allow or means that you should stop your music but here you are free to use your best of skill and judgments while playing with others. You need to keep in mind that chords are not the one type of sound to play with the bass guitar. Here you should apply the single note to compliment and support the other instruments you are banding with.