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How Chords Can Make Your 4 String Bass Sound Big

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

Incorporating chords on a 4 string bass can be challenging. Often, you’ll find many bass players resort to spending the big bucks on a 5 string bass or 6 string bass. It is true that playing chords on a bass with more than 4 strings opens the door to infinite possibility of lush wide-spaced chord voicings. However, there is still plenty of boundary to explore within the confines of 4 strings. I am going to show you an effective way chords can make baselines with your 4 string bass sound big!

Placement of Chords Can Emphasize Parts of Your Bassline

One way to make your baselines sound big on a 4 string bass, is to play chords on either beat 1 of the measure or the first note of the phrase of your bassline. This practice makes your bassline sound dynamic and big in a number of ways:

  1. The listener’s ear gets drawn to the unexpected emphasis of an already strong beat (beat 1)
  2. Beat 1 naturally gets a fatter sound with the addition of more chord tones
  3. Movement is created because more than one bass note is heard
  4. Chords introduce a different texture on the bass

A video posted by Posido Vega (@posidovega) on

Posido Vega is a professional bass guitarist from Columbia, Maryland. His concept of Mutant Bass (2005) was born from a list of skills that he observed from his favorite bass players. This list became the blueprint for teaching himself and his students. A collection of his work can be found at:

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