Tapping On Bass Guitar. Part 6 - Right Hand Fifths

author: UG Team date: 07/31/2003 category: bass lessons
rating: 8 / votes: 8 
Tapping on Bass Guitar Lesson #6 ================================ LESSON POINTS: Right Hand Fifths Having covered the third pretty thoroughly last time, we're now going to consider the interval of a fifth - largely from a practical point of view, I'm sure some of you will be glad to hear! Fifths are found throughout the major scale (any not e, except the 7th, and the note 4 places above it form a "perfect" fifth). However, more importantly right now - a fifth is found between the root and the third note of any triad:
                                                -O-
                        __ 
                    |--/--\---------------------------- 
                    |  \   | .             O        
                    |------|--------------------------- 
                    |      / .       O  
                    |-----/---------------------------- 
                    |    /     O
                    |---/------------------------------ 
                    |                 
                    |----------------------------------
                               1     3     5
                               ^           ^      
                               \__________/
                                    5th     
Quite usefully, because of the way major and minor thirds combine to form major and minor chords, it doesn't matter if the chord is major or minor - the fifth is always the same. It's (almost) always safe to play a fifth! Often in rock the chord is left unspecified (Maj/Min), as this sounds good on an overdriven guitar. Hence the root and fifth together form the basis of the rock guitarist's arsenal - the Power Chord. OK - enough waffling. I promised this would be a practical lesson so let's play some fifths. Hammer on (with your left hand) an E at the twelfth fret of the E string. Now play its octave at the 14th fret of the D string with your right index finger as normal, but raise your elbow slightly to angle your arm more, and play a B at the 16th fret of the G string with your third finger. You might also find it useful to angle your wrist down a little so your fingers run diagonally across the fretboard.
                                               -O-

                                               ---

                                          -O-  ---

                                          ---  ---
                        __
                    |--/--\---------------------------- 
                    |  \   | .  #                   
|---------16----|   |------|--#------------------------ 
|------14-------|   |      / .       O  
|---------------|   |-----/------#--------------------- 
|---12----------|   |    /     #
       T  T         |---/------------------------------ 
                    |                 
                    |----------------------------------
Once comfortable with that try playing both notes at once:
                                          -O-

                                          ---

                                          -O-

                                          ---
                        __
                    |--/--\---------------------------- 
                    |  \   | .  #                   
|-------16------|   |------|--#------------------------ 
|-------14------|   |      / .       O  
|---------------|   |-----/------#--------------------- 
|---12----------|   |    /     #
        T           |---/------------------------------ 
                    |                 
                    |----------------------------------
Harmonically, we can use a fifth anywhere we would use a fourth (as moving up a fifth is equivalent to dropping down a fourth and vice versa), so to go back to an old standby we could play:
             -O- 
                              O                                 O
             ---             ---            -O-         -O-    ---
         -O- --- -O-         ---            ---         ---    ---
                          O       O                           O   O
         --- --- ---     --- --- ---    -O- --- -O-   -O- -O---- ---
    __
|-/--\-------------------|-------------|------------|---------------|
| \   |.  #              |             |            |               |
|-----|-#----------------|-------------|------------|---------------|
|     /.     O           |             |            |              .|
|----/-----#-------------|-O-----------|------------|-------O-------|
|   /    #               |             | O          | O            .|
|--/---------------------|-------------|------------|---------------|
|                        |             |            |               |
|------------------------|-------------|------------|---------------|
|           E            | D           | C          | C     D       |
|                        |             |            |               |
|-----------------16-----|-------14----|------12----|----12-----14--|
|--------------14-----14-|----12----12-|---10----10-|--10--10-12--12|
|------------------------|-------------|------------|---------------|
|-----------12-----------|-10----------|-8----------|-8-----10------|
Yes, it's "All Along the WatchTower" again! However, this is the second most common chord pressing in rock music so it's worth learning to play well (Try listening out for it sometime - it's everywhere! ). Go back to the previous exercises and try applying the variations we applied to them to this new version (remember we're now playing it in the key of E, but the previous version was in A). If you compare the two versions of this progression (fourths vs. fifths), you'll probably find you prefer the old version. Excessive use of fifths tends to sound thin (at least in this context), so they're usually used only in passing and as part of more complex chords (you'll see what I mean next time). Because of this, it's hard to find a good final example that uses fifths to a great extent. The example I've chosen is the end of the bass intro to "Had Enough" by Mr. Big, and uses both left and right hand double stopped fifths. The full intro is pretty hairy, but this bit is quite easy and is instantly recognizable:
                                                  Harm.....
|-16-------------|--16-----------|-------------|-----5-------|
|-14-------------|--14-----------|----0-2-0-2--|--3-----5----|
|-----12----10---|-----12---10---|-------------|-------------|
|-----10----8----|-----10---8----|-0-----------|-------------|
  T   H     H       T  H    H           H P H
You should now be able to put together most basic chord progressions, by playing roots (and perhaps fifths) with your left hand, and by playing fourths (5th + Octave), Thirds (Root + Third), and Fifths (Root + Fifth) with your right. For homework, try working out some I, IV, V progressions with the root on both the E and A strings, and using, in turn, each of the right hand intervals you've seen here. For example, in the key of A, you could start in any of these places:
|-----14-------| |-----21-------| |-----18-------|
|-----14-------| |-----19-------| |-----19-------|
|--------------| |--------------| |--------------|
|--5-----------| |--5-----------| |--5-----------|

|--------------| |--------------| |--------------|
|-----7--------| |-----14-------| |-----11-------|
|-----7--------| |-----12-------| |-----12-------|
|--5-----------| |--5-----------| |--5-----------|

|-----14-------| |-----21-------| |-----18-------|
|-----14-------| |-----19-------| |-----19-------|
|--12----------| |--12----------| |--12----------|
|--------------| |--------------| |--------------|
Enjoy... Ian.
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