Confused about complex chord shapes on a guitar and wondering if that’s the case with bass guitar too? or Are you a beginner bass player and want to learn about chords? Here I’ll tell you exactly why you shouldn’t worry about chords on bass and what to do instead:
So, Does the Bass Guitar have Chords?
All four strings of the bass are in the same tuning as the lower four strings of a guitar, but one octave lower. Thus all the chord shapes on these four strings are going to be the same in both bass and guitar. But, the bass isn’t usually used to play chords. One can outline and emphasize each note to implies the sound of a chord on a bass.
Are Guitar and Bass Chords the Same?
Standard tuning of the bass strings is the same as the first four strings of a guitar, but one octave lower. that means any chord you play on these four strings is similar in both guitar and bass. But multi-note chords tend to sound a bit muddy on bass and the sound doesn’t complement with other instruments.
To eliminate this mismatch in the tuning between bass and guitars, bass players fret that same chord differently.
How do you make Chords on a Bass Guitar?
What essentially a chord is? A chord is basically a group of notes that we play at the same time. Although bass players don’t play chords as often as guitarists, sometimes it is required to fill up the sonic space.
And, if you directly start playing chords on a bass guitar, it ain’t going to sound good due to the low-pitched tuning.
Here’s how Bassists make chords on a Bass:
- Outline the Notes of the Chord you want to Play
- Emphasize on each note to implies the sound of chord
If you want to play a C major chord on the bass guitar. We form C major chord by playing the combination of C, E, and G notes simultaneously.
So, As a bass player, You outline these three C, E, and G notes individually (Either in repeating form or by changing their order) to imply the sound of a C major chord. i.e. C-E-G-C-E-G, or C-C-E-E-G-G-E-E.
Note: No matter what musical key you’re in, patterns of chords and scales never change in a bass guitar.
Why you should Learn about Chords for a Bass?
As a bass player, one of your main objectives is to support the sound of each chord guitarist is playing. if you don’t know about the chords or if you’re unaware of their sounds, you can’t fulfill your obligations.
The better you know about the sound and tones of each chord, the better you can support it through your notes and can make it more interesting and creative for your fans.
Also Read: Can You Play Bass Guitar with a Regular Guitar Amp?
How Many Chords does a Bass Guitar Have?
Practically there is an infinite number of chords that can be played on a bass guitar ranging from major, minor to power chords and seventh chords. but as bass players don’t play chords often, only 24 important bass chords are more than enough to make you a versatile bass player.
3 Effective Tips to Play Chords Efficiently on a Bass
These are some of the tips that help me throughout my journey:
1. Alter your Right-Hand Technique
You should use your thumb, index finger, and ring finger while playing. This will provide you more control over playing and allow you to play notes one by one or in the union.
Also, by plucking the strings near the bridge help you to make the chord sound more clear and avoid that unwanted muddiness from the tone.
2. Play near the Neck Area
If you play chords near the headstock, just like acoustic guitar players do, your bass is going to sound awful. Instead, if you utilize the higher resistance of the bass by playing high on the neck, it will sound more clear and help you to avoid that muddy-sounding tone.
Music is all about learning the rules and knowing when to break them!
No matter how many tips you read from the internet, if you want to master the bass guitar, you need to perform some experiments on your own. Ask yourself, what happen if I played this chord this way?
Try to play around with the rhythm and harmonics. If possible, add some effects to your tones, like chorus, or reverb, and see what makes your music amazing and different from others. Don’t be afraid to break any standard rule you read somewhere. Just remember, Experiment is the key!
What are the Most Common Bass Chords?
Once you understand the notes, you can go forward and start practicing some basic chords. Here I’m listing three basic chord shapes that you should memorize as a beginner bass player.
C major Chord:
This chord involves an octave and allows you to deliver full-bodied, powerful sound from your bass. C major chord is built off from three notes C, E, and G. after you played the G note, you should play C again to make the full circle and complete our chord.
Here’re the notes of C Major chords for Bass Guitar:
G major Chord:
G major chord consists of three notes G, B, and D. and just like C major chord, we must return the root (1st note) of the octave i.e. G note, to complete our chord.
Here’re the notes of G Major chords for Bass Guitar:
A minor Chord:
This is a more delicate chord and brings an emotional quality with it. A minor chord consists of notes A, C, and E. and unlike the C major and G major chord, you don’t have to complete the octave here.
Click here for more bass chords diagram charts and tabs.
Now, as you know about the basic chord shapes, the next step is to practice. There is no other way you can remember these patterns unless you practice them. And I think, playing songs, is one of the most effective and fun ways to practice chords.
Final Thoughts on Do Bass Guitar Have Chords?
I hope you understand what’s the difference between the chord playing technique between a bass and a regular six-string guitar. And why we can’t directly play the chords on bass.
If you find this article helpful, do share it with your music friends on your social handles. Also, if you have any kind of doubt or any suggestions for me, feel free to put it down in the comment section.