How To Play Bass Chords

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

Learn how to play bass chords step by step. This simple guide will have you playing bass chords in a short matter of time.

Playing chords on the bass is not only fun, but sounds great!

Learn How To Play Bass Chords Quickly

Many bass players, such as Oteil Burbridge, Robert “Bubby” Lewis, and Victor Wooten play chords on the bass guitar and it has also become a big part of their sound.

Here are 4 simple steps showing you how to play bass chords:

  1. Chords come from scales. So, know the scale that you want to play a chord from. For this example, we will use a C Dominant 7 Scale. The notes of a C Dominant 7 Scale are: C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb
  2. Rename this scale using numbers: C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, Bb=7
  3. To play the chord that belongs to this scale, use this formula: 1, 3, 5, and 7. Find notes 1, 3, 5, and 7 on your bass guitar.
  4. Since the bass guitar can be a physically demanding instrument, with thick strings, strings that are far apart, and frets that are widely spaced, it helps to play only a few of the notes of the chord. For instance, try playing this chord voicing: 1, 7, 3. Play 1 on your E string. Play 7 on your D string. Play 3 on your G string.

That’s really all there is to playing chords on the bass guitar. One thing to remember, with the bass guitar, you don’t have to play all of the notes in the formula to sound the chord. You don’t have to play 1, 3, 5, and 7.  You will sound great playing just a few of them!

If you really want to dive deep into playing chords on the bass, then I highly recommend this:

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