Drop 2 Guitar Chords – The One Chord Voicing You Must Know On Bass

in Bass Lessons/Bass Technique/Learning Concepts/Musical Vocabulary/Musical Voice

Master a streamlined approach to guitar chords that allows you to play any chord type and inversion, on the bass, with relative ease.

Simple chord voicings, such as 1, 3, 5, 7 are practically impossible to play on the bass. However, this one chord voicing makes all chord tones reacheable!

This chord voicing is a must know on the bass if you want to start playing modern, jazzy, lush, full sounding guitar chords!

What Are “Voicings” For Guitar Chords

The term “voicing” simply refers to the way chord tones are spaced apart in a chord. Some guitar chords are played as “closed voicings.”

However, most guitar chords are played as “open voicings,” because they are easier to play.

On the bass guitar, a wide distance between the low note and the high note allows for more practical, playable, good sounding chords.

  • “Closed voicings” means that the chord tones are played as close as possible. For example: C Major 7 would be played as: C, E, G, B (all the notes are placed in the same octave, making the chord sound small).
  • “Open voicings” means that the chord tones are spaced wider apart. For example: C Major 7 could be played as: C, G, E, B (the notes E and B are placed in a higher octave, making the chord sound more big).

Guitar Chords Voiced As “Drop 2” Sound Good And Are Easier To Play On Bass

If you’ve ever watched jazz guitarists play, you may have noticed that their guitar chords often have a certain look to them. That is because there is one chord voicing that is often used–The “Drop 2 Chord Voicing”.

First, try playing these simple C Major 7 chord inversions as closed voicings:

Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Root Position. Notes: C E G B
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Root Position. Notes: C E G B
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 1st Inversion. Notes: E G B C
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 1st Inversion. Notes: E G B C
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 2nd Inversion. Notes: G, B, C, E
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 2nd Inversion. Notes: G, B, C, E
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 3rd Inversion. Notes: B, C, E, G
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 3rd Inversion. Notes: B, C, E, G

Playing these guitar chords, and their inversions, voiced this way on a bass guitar is practically impossible.

In order to make chord shapes (such as the ones above) more manageable to play on the guitar, the second-highest note can be dropped to the bottom of the chord. Voicing a chord in such a way is called a Drop 2 Voicing.

Take a look at what the chord voicings now look like, after dropping the second-highest note to become the lowest note of the chord (bold shows the chord tone that was dropped and is now the lowest note in the chord). These are Drop 2 Voicings for a Major 7 Chord.

  • 1 3 5 7 becomes 5 1 3 7
  • 3 5 7 1 becomes 7 3 5 1
  • 5 7 1 3 becomes 1 5 7 3
  • 7 1 3 5 becomes 3 7 1 5

These are the voicings for a CMaj 7 chord:

  • C, E, G, B becomes G, C, E, B
  • E, G, B, C becomes B, E, G, C
  • G, B, C, E becomes C, G, B, E
  • B, C, E, G becomes E, B, C, G

Drop 2 chord voicings utilize 4 adjacent strings, which make these voicings perfect for a 4 string bass guitar.

So, if you want to play lush, full sounding bass guitar chords that feel good on the hands, Drop 2 chord voicings are the way to go!

Here is the same simple C Major 7 chord and its inversions as Drop 2 voicings:

Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Root Position. Notes: C, G, B, E
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Root Position. Notes: C, G, B, E
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 First Inversion. Notes: E, B, C, G
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 First Inversion. Notes: E, B, C, G
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Second Inversion. Notes: G, C, E, B
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Second Inversion. Notes: G, C, E, B
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Third Inversion. Notes: B, E, G, C
Bass Guitar Chords: CMaj7 Third Inversion. Notes: B, E, G, C

What Makes Drop 2 Guitar Chord Voicings Awesome For Bass Guitar?

Drop 2 chord voicings are awesome for bass guitar, because with this chord voicing almost all chord types become possible to play.

Here is the basic concept for manipulating Drop 2 Major 7 chord voicings to create other chord shapes. You will find that chord tones and chord extensions are all within reach, when voiced as a Drop 2 chord voicing.

Dominant chord shape:

  • Replace 7 with b7

Minor 7 chord shape:

  • replace 3 with b3
  • replace 7 with b7

Minor/Major 7 chord shape:

  • replace 3 with b3

Minor 7 b5 chord shape:

  • replace 3 with b3
  • replace 5 with b5
  • replace 7 with b7

Major 7 b5 (also known as Major 7 #11) chord shape:

  • replace 5 with b5

Major 6 chord shape:

  • replace 7 with 6

Minor 6 chord shape:

  • replace 3 with b3
  • replace 7 with 6

Diminished chord shape:

  • replace 3 with b3
  • replace 5 with b5
  • replace 7 with 6

Augmented 7 chord shape:

  • replace 5 with #5
  • replace 7 with b7

Add 9 chord shape:

  • replace 1 with 2 (this will create a rootless voicing)

Here are some suggestions for further exploration with these guitar chords:

The suggestions below should be applied to all chord shapes mentioned above, including their inversions.

  1. Practice just playing the lowest note and the highest note.
  2. Practice playing these chord shapes without the 3rd.
  3. Practice playing these chord shapes without the 5th.
  4. Practice playing these chord shapes without the 7th

If you want to dive into the world of Drop 2 chord voicings, you might want to check this out:

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