#1
So I started playing bass a few months ago. I play in my church youth band and they showed me how to play the guitar chord's base notes.
But how do you use scales in a song? I also can never find good pentatonic or other types of scales to practice because they seem to all be different and I get confused. Or are there different versions or something?
I want to be able to play more than just the root notes because I'll enjoy it more. Any help/advice I can get will be much appreciated!
#2
don't, focus on chord tones.
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#4
As others have said chord structure, leave scale to shops, weight watchers and fish.
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn
#5
The next safest notes to go to are the other notes in the chords the guitar is playing, also throwing in passing notes that then go to the root are safe. For example throwing in a D or a D# at the start of a bar of E(major or minor) before settling on the chord would be a pretty safe move. This video is about jazz guitar, but some of it has some very nice insight on how to make your basslines more complex.

*edit* This one is similar in some ways, but actually made with bass in mind.

*double-edit*
Pedalling. How did I forget about that? Pretty much, you can alternate ('pedal') between the root note and some kind of melody or arpeggio, for example

G--------------------
D------------10------
A---7---10--------10-
E-8---8----8----8----

in straight eigths would be a nice groove over a C major chord; musically you're just moving around the chord tones of C major while pedalling a C on the E string to make sure that you've got the root note clamped down so not to screw with the rest of the band. To make more things like this, look up some arpeggio shapes (you can steal guitar arpeggio shapes and ignore the top 2 strings) and mess around; see how much you can neglect the root note before you're not doing your job (keeping the root note covered) well.

Finally, pay attention to the rest of the music. You can't get away with 16th note arpeggios if the beat is pretty much on quarters and nothing more- as a rule of thumb, you shouldn't be playing more than twice as many things as the drummer, and you should have a prominent note following the bass drum most of the time.
Last edited by MopMaster at May 11, 2013,
#6
It's good to be able to play what you want but usually it just sounds best when you play the root. You can play passing notes in between the chords but many times the root note sounds the best. Though in some situations it sounds better if you play the third or fifth instead of the root note, for example C - G - Am. Play B instead of G and it sounds kind of smoother. Sometimes a pedal point is also cool (ie you play the same note over every chord, for example listen to Runnin with the Devil by Van Halen. The bassline over the main riff is just E. Many AC/DC songs also have pedal point basslines).

You could make your basslines more interesting not by playing more notes but playing interesting rhythms. Bass is more about the groove than what notes you play. What kind of groove the song has is pretty much about the bass part (and also the drum part of course). But bass and drum parts must fit together well. If your drummer is playing a funky drum beat, it won't sound good if you just play one note per bar. It's the same if the drummer plays a simple beat and you play a complex bassline - it just doesn't work. So listen to the drummer.

Play what sounds the best, even if it was not fun to play. (Though IMO it's fun to play if it sounds good, I want to make good music and not just interesting bass parts.) Play what the song needs you to play. Remember that you are playing music, not just bass guitar. Many people will not even notice your playing unless it sounds terrible. And if you start soloing too much, it doesn't fit the song and it will sound terrible. Keep it simple enough.

So don't worry that much about the notes you play. Think more about the rhythm you are playing. You can make good root note basslines just by playing a rhythm that fits the song. Always try to support the music. Some songs need simple basslines, some need complex. Don't play complex parts just because it's fun. Think about how it sounds like - does the part you play fit the song well? This applies to any instrument, not just bass.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#7
Stick away from root note bashing, in the chord of C'' major 'G' with is up a 5th or down a 4th is often the next step along. 'E' is the major 3rd of the triad which gives you the chord of 'C' major (C-E-G 1,3,5 in intervals).
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn
#8
Quote by John Swift
Stick away from root note bashing

Unless it fits the song. I'm not completely sure what you mean by "root note bashing" but if you mean only playing the root notes, most of the time it sounds much better than playing only thirds and fifths. Thirds and fifths as the bass note have their use (for example when you have I-V-I progression, the I chord before the V chord could have the fifth in bass, and in I-V-vi progression the V chord could have the third in bass) but the root note has the most "stable" sound and that's why it in most cases sounds the best.

What I usually do is play the root note on the first beat and then "walk" to the next chord. Though as I said in my earlier post, sometimes playing the third or fifth sounds better. But doing it all the time gives that kind of unstable sound. It sounds really strange.

And as I said in my earlier post, it's not that much about your note choice. It's more about the rhythm.

I don't get all these "avoid root notes" advice.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at May 11, 2013,
#9
Thanks guys! You were all helpful.
I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.
~Johann Sebastian Bach
#10
i'll go ahead and plug vic wooten's groove workshop if you can get a hold of it. very, very, very good watch.
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.


Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
#11
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Unless it fits the song. I'm not completely sure what you mean by "root note bashing" but if you mean only playing the root notes, most of the time it sounds much better than playing only thirds and fifths. Thirds and fifths as the bass note have their use (for example when you have I-V-I progression, the I chord before the V chord could have the fifth in bass, and in I-V-vi progression the V chord could have the third in bass) but the root note has the most "stable" sound and that's why it in most cases sounds the best.

What I usually do is play the root note on the first beat and then "walk" to the next chord. Though as I said in my earlier post, sometimes playing the third or fifth sounds better. But doing it all the time gives that kind of unstable sound. It sounds really strange.

And as I said in my earlier post, it's not that much about your note choice. It's more about the rhythm.

I don't get all these "avoid root notes" advice.

Don't know what music you're used to playing but no music I've ever played has consisted of just playing the root note of a chord (Root Note Bashing), yes you do play the root note but it is usually followed by other notes in the chord ie arpeggios/riffs.
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn
#12
Quote by John Swift
Don't know what music you're used to playing but no music I've ever played has consisted of just playing the root note of a chord (Root Note Bashing), yes you do play the root note but it is usually followed by other notes in the chord ie arpeggios/riffs.

Yes, of course. I wasn't completely sure what you meant by root note bashing. But it's true that root note as the first note when the chord changes usually sounds the best. It usually doesn't sound good if bass only plays few root notes. And I do use other chord tones than just root notes but what I do is when the chord changes I play the root note and then "walk" to the next chord using chord tones/passing notes.

But just playing the root note has its place. For example if you play some simple AC/DC stuff where bass pretty much only plays 8th notes. But that fits the music well so the point is that you should play what the song needs you to play. Your bassline needs to support the music. And as I said, bass is a lot about rhythm. You can make interesting basslines just by using different rhythms. Some songs only need long notes, others need groovy basslines. It completely depends on the song.

So TS, listen to the song and think what kind of feeling you are after. What kind of bassline would fit the song? If it's a rhythmic song, you need to play a rhythmic bassline. If it's a slow song, maybe just play long notes if it fits the mood of the song.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at May 13, 2013,
#13
Passing notes are like using the octave and the 5th right? Or just play what sounds good to get to the next note?
I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.
~Johann Sebastian Bach
#14
Quote by Decieven
Passing notes are like using the octave and the 5th right? Or just play what sounds good to get to the next note?


I sympathize with you, I started bass playing in a band and the need to just get the job done hods you back from learning the theory which will make the job easier in the long term. Six years down the line I have four or five songs to learn for next week and no time to develop my bass playing. On the plus side you can't help but learn bits and pieces just by learning songs and I have all the fun of constantly playing with other people in public.

Passing notes as a term generally refers to a non root note played at the transition from one chord to another. (Strictly speaking it should be a non chord tone but that is another issue)

I'll try to stick to what is practical.

To make your bass line more interesting, especially for the audience but a bit for yourself, try varying the rhythm. It's amazing what just substituting 'one, two, and three and four' does for a song compared with a straight 'one,two, three, four'. you can experiment with missing beats out and varying the rhythm between verse and chorus. Listen to the songs and practice varying the rhythm in your head.

Just don't forget bass is a rhythm instrument.

You say playing 'what sounds best' as a passing note. Well, what sounds best is what makes up theory.

Try using Chromatic notes as your passing notes, these are the frets next to each other running up a semitone at a time. Because so much modern music uses chromatic runs they sound right to us and it makes it harder to mess up than scales. Going from A to D you then play an A root (5th fret E string) until one beat before the chord change then play the chromatic progression to D (5th fret A string) by playing the C# (4th fret A) on the last beat before the chord change. Or you can play longer chromatic runs by doubling the rhythm. (C,C#,D)

Next look at playing 7ths as passing notes, you've already done this because one fret below the chord you are going to is the major 7th and it's also the chromatic note below. Going two frets below the chord you are moving to is a 'blue note' or a minor 7th. So you play A,C,D on the chord change from A to D. If you were going from A toE you'd play A,D,E again the middle note is the 'passing note' two frets below the chord you are moving to.

Pedal tones, 5ths, 3rds and harmonic progressions all work too but start with the easy ones.

Beyond that you need to really get some books (Hal Leonard are good) or start trawling the internet (Google Scottsbass). All the tips above are good and I've loads more but this is a long post already so i'll give you one last tip.

Keep It Simple
Last edited by Phil Starr at May 21, 2013,
#15
Quote by Decieven
Passing notes are like using the octave and the 5th right? Or just play what sounds good to get to the next note?

If you want to move from C to F the notes often used are C,D E F it's quite simple you can also use reverse riffs as long as it is diatonic it will usually sound right but there are so many that it is best to experiment and see what you come up with.
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn