Using Bass Notes In Barre Chords
This was a great idea and was asked by a fellow member. He expressed the following:
"First just want to tell you
that I have learned a great deal with the lessons I have been working on
everything from day one and keep going back
over everything. Just wondering if you are going to get into bass runs? If
not can you tell me how to figure out what notes I need to get from one cord
to the next I have found some information and some I have just figured out
on my own over the years I have been playing. What is the theory of bass runs
is what I am trying to say.
Again I have been enjoying this course. Happy NEW YEAR "
That's a GREAT question!
I believe what he is referring to is creating a walking bass line using the
barre chord forms, which enables you to add spice to existing chords.
Walking Bass Line 1:
Measure 1 consists of one overall pattern with the root notes changing. This
is where the walking bass line comes into play. The root notes will be on the
Low E string and the A string for this exercise.
The very first thing we need to do is establish the root note for the first
measure. We start out on the 3rd fret of the Low E string, which is the root
note G. This is because of the 12 note order, as you should recall (open E
= open chord, F = fret 1, F#/Gb = fret 2, G = fret 3).
Another note listed, which appears
on the D string, is the 3rd fret "F" note,
again because of the note order D, D#/Eb, E, and then F.
The last note that appears in the very first set of lines is the G string
note, played on the 4th fret. This is the B note, due to the 12 note order
G, G#/Ab, A, A#/Bb, and then B.
So in all, you've got a total number of notes in the first set of lines of
G, F, and B.
Now let's check out how the 1st fret note on the A string matches up:
This 1st fret A string note is an A#/Bb. By using the note order rule, you
can determine this every single time. The next series of notes is the same
as the first series, so in total you have the next set of lines as A#/Bb, F,
and then B. You're keeping the position of the notes the same, but you're finding
the walking bass note within, except for what can be applied to the root note
on the Low E and A string.
The next walking bass note is the 4th fretted note on the A string. This is
the C#/Db note. Again, the same 'background' notes appear again.
So for these sets of notes, you have the following:
C#/Db, F, and B
Now let's look at the entire measure in order:
G, F, B, A#/Bb, F, B, C#/Db,
The only changes are in bold. It's up to you how you rearrange them. As long
as you stay 'within the box' you can change the order up however you want.
What Do I Mean About 'Within The Box'?
This concept is very easy to figure out. Take a look at the tablature again:
What do you notice?
Though the tablature shows quite a few changes in the first measure, there
aren't really many at all. You've just applied a standard set of numbers and
'walked' around using the Low E and A string. We can call them bass notes because
they are going to be the lowest pitch you hear. As you know, the actual bass
guitar is played at a much lower pitch than the standard guitar due to the
string gauge. If you were to place a standard guitar string on a bass (don't
do it though) you would realize that it's not always the actual bass that makes
the notes lower, it's the gauge of the string and position on the fretboard.
This can be applied to standard guitar as well. The lower notes will always
be the bass notes that you will want to 'walk' with. Since our focus in this
session of Strumming School are the Low E and A strings, we can assume that
these will be our walking bass notes.
Let's get into the next measure now:
Here's the tablature again:
I keep showing the entire tablature because if I were to seperate these, you
wouldn't be able to see how well a walking bass note lines up within two or
Now we are playing a completely different set of notes, using all Low E string
notes as the walking bass lines.
In the second measure, you start out without playing a walking bass note.
The first note that appears, viewing it from the Low E string to the High E
string, is the 3rd fretted note on the A string. This is the C note. The 2nd
fretted note on the D string is the E note. The 3rd fretted note on the G string
is the A#/Bb note.
Those played together are: C, E, A#/Bb. This will stay true throughout this
measure, but we are going to switch up the walking bass notes on you. So, keep
in mind that the only notes that change are on the Low E string, which is our
walking bass line.
On the Low E string ONLY, the notes appear as this:
Low E (open), F, F#/Gb
Now let's plug and play the entire measure (bass notes are in bold):
C, E, A#/Bb (played together), E, A#/Bb (played together) OPEN E,
E, A#/Bb (played together), F note, E, A#/Bb (played together), F#/Gb
note and E, A#/Bb (PLAYED TOGETHER), E, A#/Bb (played together)
Hopefully that makes sense. To finish off this part, let's finger the progression,
play the audio, and watch the video.
Fingerings Measure 1:
Are you saying "Whoa?! Wait a minute?!" yet?
Don't worry. The wonder of guitar is that anything and everything you learn
can change in a flash. We just talked about trying to keep your hands positioned
with the chord number listed on the tablature, but we don't do that here do
we? Why is this?
Simply stated, it's because though we aren't moving 'out of the box,' we ARE
applying walking bass notes to add flavor and spice to a song. When you start
'improvising' things tend to change. If you are wondering how in the world
I was able to come up with this choice for fingerings, I'll give you a quick
Experiment. It's that easy. When I started working
with the tablature, I realized that if I were to play everything fretted out
in number format trying to coincide with the tab numbers, there was no way
I would be able to finger all the walking bass notes, so I changed my positioning
up a little. This is completely normal and is VERY common when playing advanced
fingerstyle guitar work, so get used to it. If you play the fingerings as I
have presented them, you'll have no trouble playing this exercise.
Now on to measure 2....
Fingerings Measure 2:
If you look at the fingerings from above, and then look at these fingerings,
you'll see that the finger placement mostly stays the same. Cool huh? That's
why I used this tablature version. You can see that you can move up and down
the neck using walking bass notes without variating too much from measure to
measure. If you are having trouble, watch the video and it should alleviate