How To Create A Bass Line For A Song

Creating a bassline might sound hard. But as you read this lesson you will learn that it is quite easy.

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Creating a bassline might sound hard. But as you read this lesson you will learn that it is quite easy. When you make a bassline take a look at what the rhythm guitarist is playing during a song. Say he is playing something simple like this:
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-4--6--8---4--6--8---------------------------------------------------|
A|-3--5--0---3--5--0--------------------------------------------------|
E|-2--4--7---2--4--7---------------------------------------------------|
(i understand this probably looks like a stupid riff.) If he is playing some thing like that then you might want to play this:
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-2222-4444-7777--2222-4444-7777--------------------------------|
 
or even more simple:
 
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-2-4-7--2-4-7-------------------------------------------------------|
if you want to make it harder you can play what he plays or use a fret on the top string and use it's octave.
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-4--6--9--4-6-9------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-2--4--7--2-4-7------------------------------------------------------|
this whle thing may sound stupid but here are some popular examples: Learn to Fly-Foo Fighters I Hear You Calling-Gob Pets-Porno for Pyros Smells Like Teen Spirit-Nirvana Break on Through (to the Other Side)-The Doors MANY MORE...

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    lekremyelsew
    Very basic, but good. I'd like to add that in most music the purpose of a bass is to outline the chords being played (not just fill in the low end or just follow the guitar as many bass-haters would like you to believe). So if your guitarist is playing a CMaj chord, try playing around with the notes C, E and G under it instead of just playing with the root note and its octave. Playing a E or a G under a CMaj chord will give the chord and inverted feel (not completely resolved) whereas playing the root note will feel very at rest, but all 3 notes will fit nicely with the chord. Also don't be afraid to go against the melody of the song. Melodies are somewhat restricted in the fact that moving to close notes (like B or D from C) will sound resolving and large leaps (like C to G) will be cause tension and want to resolve. But bass lines don't follow those same rules. Sometimes a really fluid song will have a bass line that is just jumping all over the place. A bass line with some serious movement behind it can drive a song like nothing else can. Do you think Bootsy Collins or Les Claypool just "follow the guitar"? Of course not.
    Bert_the_Bear
    Lolcohol wrote: This is a terrible lesson. I shouldn't have even given it a 2. It explains nothing really.. At the very least you could've expanded on your explanation and spoken about root notes and chord tones, but lekmyelsew has already gone into that.
    I think it's safe to assume that someone who doesn't know what a root note is, isn't about to start writing their own bass line. This is a good lesson for people who have no clue how to start writing a very basic bass line. This won't bring up anything 'Victor Wooten', but it's not supposed to either. The contribution lekremyelsew made was definately worth to be mentioned though.
    TonyCM
    Just a note. For those of us that play lead and rythem and know absolutly little if anything about bass playing this was a good start explaination. Lolcohol. If you can do better then do so. Otherwise you've added nothing but hate.
    4ttack4ttack
    What about playing with the drums ?
    Dabassandme
    That's what I do. I don't know what this guy is thinking. I can't stand bassists that follow the guitar. Technically, the rhythm guitar should be following the bassline. Of course, they'd never admit to it, 'cause I'm just a lowly bassist haha
    christianonbass
    Good job. This lesson helps to illustrate the basic "Foundation" of a bass riff as it relates to a simple guitar riff. "First learn walk, then learn fly Danielsahn. It's not Miyagi rule. Miyagi just follow!" If you are a registered member of this community I hope you aren't hating on the people who post these lessons, or you won't be a member for very long. This site is about learning how to play our instruments. If you want to hate and pick fights go elsewhere...like back to grade school.
    Lolcohol
    This is a terrible lesson. I shouldn't have even given it a 2. It explains nothing really.. At the very least you could've expanded on your explanation and spoken about root notes and chord tones, but lekmyelsew has already gone into that.
    UlleN
    could u explain the good lesson then Mr.Lolcohol ?? I'm happy to know it 'cos i really need it thanks before
    Agyology
    Hey, i love the lession just dat am a novice and dont really understand that diagram with the numbering. Am a fast learner though
    technoguyx
    You don't necessarily play the lower note of the chord (AKA the root, and it's not even the root in all cases), like lekremyeslew said you can mess with any chord tone. You also forgot about using passing tones - they're the key to make an interesting bassline.
    Andy The Axman
    TonyCM wrote: Just a note. For those of us that play lead and rythem and know absolutly little if anything about bass playing this was a good start explaination. Lolcohol. If you can do better then do so. Otherwise you've added nothing but hate.
    Dabassandme
    The bass is just a really complicated drum, so treat it as such. It's people like the author of this article that are killing bassist's reputations. Well, that and alcohol.