#1
Hey guys my guitar teacher told me that E flat was a bad key on the guitar because you run out of bass notes or something. He made a big deal about playing the 6th fret on A(E flat). I don't understand this though because the bass range is E2 to E4 so, if I play an E flat on the 6th fret of A, which would be an E3, I can go up the entire guitar and still have a bass note that's in range. Like I can play each Chord in the scale until I hit E4 and I'll have a bass note that's in range.

Another thing that confuses me is another guitar teacher I had. He referred to the bass as the lowest pitch played. If that's the case, what if it's an extremely high chord on guitar and the bass is out of range? Would that be considered the bass note still?

Both guitarists referred to the other notes as the accompaniment. I get this but when I dig deep I get confused. What if you are playing a low chord on guitar with multiple bass ranged notes. Would you just refer as the lowest of all as the bass and the other notes accompaniment? Even if those other notes are in bass range?

Idk the whole thing confuses me honestly because it's like some refer as the lowest note as the bass while others think of the bass as an E2 to E4 range.
What is the true meaning of bass on an electric or classical guitar? From Classic rock to classical music
#2
The bass note is, firstly, the note that the current chord is based off of. Secondly, the bass note should normally be the lowest note sounding, so that the music plays over top of the denoted bass tone, which allows chord definition.

Firstly, A "G" major chord is built from a G, with a major and minor triad after. So G, B, D. Further, you can add to the chord by chord modifiers, like maj7 or diminished or augmented. But as long as the chord is based of a G, the G will be your root note for the chord and the note the bass will play.

Secondly, the guitar needs a solid bass line so that the chords do not loose their chord name. The ear naturally defaults to hearing the lowest note, particularly with guitars or a band setting, as the root note of the chord. So if someone was play a G chord on the guitar or piano, but the bass was playing an E, the chord would sound more like an Emin7 chord. Even if the bass played a B or D while the rest of the band played a G chord, it would still sound like the chord was built upon that B or D. Whenever you see a chord in your music that looks like "G/B" or "Cmaj7/E", that means that it's a G chord with a B as the bass, or a Cmaj7 chord with an E as the bass.

With classical playing, the bass notes need to stay fairly low or else the bass line will start to blend in with the counter melody or melody. I think classical guitarists like to keep their bass notes within the lowest E and the octave up. When playing in E flat, you can't hit the lowest bass tone, you're always just one step above the low E flat.
Last edited by Will Lane at Nov 10, 2014,
#3
I think that he means that you can't go all the way down to an Eb2 note. I don't see why that should matter at all.

I suppose that in the context of classical guitar, it might be a bit cumbersome to have to play the tonic of the key on the 6th fret, but if that is the case you could argue that any key other than A, D, or E is not a good key for guitar, since those are your open low strings.

That still is kind of a poor excuse though and still has nothing to do with not having a low enough bass range since you could still reach an F2 for example, even if it is not an open note.

Quote by Will Lane
The bass note is, firstly, the note that the current chord is based off of.


That is the root note. The bass note is the lowest note in the chord.
#4
Wouldn't down tuning solve this problem?That way, the open Eb would be your bass note instead of having to play on the fifth string.
Last edited by SexyBeast810 at Nov 10, 2014,
#5
Quote by Will Lane
The bass note is, firstly, the note that the current chord is based off of.

Unless we have an inverted chord, in which case it would not be. For example, D/F# is fairly common. We have an F# in the base, and it's in first inversion (3rd is in the bass). It's still a Dmajor chord, though. We just threw F# in the bass (most likely for voice leading reasons).
#7
Quote by ouchies
I think Will Lane meant to say, "is a note the chord is based off of."


It's still based on the root note, not the bass note.

And actually, that's really no different than what he said.
#9
Yeah I see where the confusion is. To me all the notes are important for defining the chord, except maybe the fifth.

So when I hear, a note the chord is based off of, then I imagine any of those notes in said chord.
#10
Quote by ouchies
Yeah I see where the confusion is. To me all the notes are important for defining the chord, except maybe the fifth.

So when I hear, a note the chord is based off of, then I imagine any of those notes in said chord.


But it's only based on one note, since everything is relative to that one note. We're not talking about what "defines" a chord. We're talking about what it is based on.

If you have an E9, it's based on the E. Not the G#, not the B, not the D. Not even the all-important F# that puts the "9" in "E9". A 9 chord is 1, 3, 5, b7, 9. That means you start with E. Then you add in the other notes built around that root. You wouldn't start with any other note to build an E9 chord.

Also the fifth is just as important in defining a chord as the third, since there are more than one kind of fifth (especially since people love various diminished chords).
#11
We're just arguing semantics here. I understand what you are saying, and I do not disagree.

"Based off of" is not defined in music theory, it does not mean root. So there is really no right or wrong answer.
#12
Eb on guitar (standard tuning) means that none of its diatonic notes are open strings. That is the only reason I would consider Eb "hard" on guitar. That said, the band I am in play a track in Eb and I find it no harder than anything else so...
Last edited by Myshadow46_2 at Nov 12, 2014,
#13
the reason the teacher gave is questionable since D is a very commonkey on guitar and has a similar range issue on guitar.

Myshadow46_2 gave a much better reason and either a capo or down tuning (as proposed by sexybeast) would resolve the issue.
#14
Quote by ouchies
We're just arguing semantics here. I understand what you are saying, and I do not disagree.

"Based off of" is not defined in music theory, it does not mean root. So there is really no right or wrong answer.


No, it means root. Any E chord is based on the E note, any C chord is based on C, etc. To suggest otherwise is incorrect. And semantics is extremely important when discussing the meaning of terms. "Based off of" is also grammatically incorrect.
#15
Bass note = lowest note that's playing
Accompaniment = notes that aren't in the melody (i.e. whose function is to define harmony and dynamics).

I can see a point for the bass notes being included in the accompaniment or not being included, depending on the situation, and I don't know how it goes traditionally (someone pls help).
#16
Quote by n00754663
Hey guys my guitar teacher told me that E flat was a bad key on the guitar because you run out of bass notes or something. He made a big deal about playing the 6th fret on A(E flat). I don't understand this though because the bass range is E2 to E4 so, if I play an E flat on the 6th fret of A, which would be an E3, I can go up the entire guitar and still have a bass note that's in range. Like I can play each Chord in the scale until I hit E4 and I'll have a bass note that's in range.

Unless you're talking about singers, "bass" does not have a specific range. In general, often people will refer to notes that are lower than middle C-ish as "bass notes." When he was talking about bass notes what he meant was that because the lowest string on a standard tuned guitar is E, you can't play the tonic of your key in the lowest register of the guitar. Or maybe that you can't play the tonic as an open string. Can't really be sure.
Quote by n00754663
Another thing that confuses me is another guitar teacher I had. He referred to the bass as the lowest pitch played. If that's the case, what if it's an extremely high chord on guitar and the bass is out of range? Would that be considered the bass note still?

The lowest pitch of a chord is the bass note. It has nothing to do with where or how the chord is voiced.
Quote by n00754663
Both guitarists referred to the other notes as the accompaniment. I get this but when I dig deep I get confused. What if you are playing a low chord on guitar with multiple bass ranged notes. Would you just refer as the lowest of all as the bass and the other notes accompaniment? Even if those other notes are in bass range?

Again the lowest pitch of a chord is the bass note, regardless of what register the rest of the notes of the chord are in. Accompaniment refers to the things that accompany the main melody. I'm not really sure how they meant it.
Quote by n00754663
Idk the whole thing confuses me honestly because it's like some refer as the lowest note as the bass while others think of the bass as an E2 to E4 range.
What is the true meaning of bass on an electric or classical guitar? From Classic rock to classical music

There is no true meaning of bass. It can mean a lot of different things. In general it refers to low pitches.
#17
Eb can work well on guitar when the lowest bass note is the dominant or the subdominant. I see what your teacher means - the low Eb note is in kind of an awkward place on the fretboard. But one should not find this restrictive.
#18
Tune your guitar down a half step if you want to play in Eb - problem solved.

"Guitar friendly" keys have lots of open notes in them. The reason Eb is a bad key for guitar ( when tuned standard) is that you don't have access to the low E note like you would in the key of E. On classical guitar, and any other solo fingerstyle approach, you want access to as many open notes as possible because it gives you more flexibility in arranging the piece and it's easier on the hand.