Understanding Bass Guitar Chords, the Key Element to Mastering the Bass Guitar
Close your eyes and listen. Is there a sound that evokes more emotion than a well-played guitar? When you teach yourself guitar especially the bass guitar it should be a wonderful experience that fills you with the joy of achievement. When you first start to learn the bass guitar chords, one of the most difficult tasks to master is to get your fingers to do what you want them to do.
So what Exactly is a Chord?
A chord is the underlying principle in every piece of music there is. A chord is 3 different notes from 1 scale played together at the same time. For instance, G major is G-B-D, a root, a third, and a fifth.G minor is G-Bb-D, a root, a lowered third (of course), and a fifth. When you play these 3 notes one the strings of a guitar, it will create a nice sounding harmony that is pleasing to the ear.
Understanding Bass guitar chord symbols
Guitar chords often include symbols in the chord diagram layout. The vertical lines are the guitar strings, the horizontal lines are the frets. An x above the vertical line indicates that a string is free or is not played, while an O designates an open string or a string that is not played on the fret. A filled
circle means the string has to be fretted.
In order to learn guitar chords you must first know the sound that each vibration on each guitar string makes. At this point you must also understand how finger placement will change the vibration on each guitar string. To learn guitar chords in this manner, practice and repetition are key to success. You will soon understand how different guitar chords come together to form a song. If you know the chords, you’ll know the song – it’s that simple.
Once guitar players get a few licks and tricks under their belt they become lazy. When you consider the combinations that are available from just one chord in one position on the neck, it is absolutely mind blowing, let alone the hundreds of other positions and variations available. Just by experimenting with one chord shape at a different starting place on the fretboard can take your mind and fingers to uncharted areas you could not have conceived of before.
Why Would a Bassist Need Chord Symbols?
Even though bassists don’t typically play a lot of chords by themselves on bass, bassists are still very involved in forming the sound of the chord along with the whole band or ensemble. As a bassist, when you play with a group of musicians you are playing one of those “3 or more different notes” that forms the chord being played by the whole band.
In many situations bassists are not told what specific notes to play, but only what the chords of a song are. In this common situation the bassist is expected to play notes that support and complement the sound of each chord as it passes by.
So, bassists often read chord symbols in written music and make up or improvise a bassline that matches the chords of the song instead of playing a specific, written out bassline.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re trying to teach yourself guitar. Follow the steps below and soon you’ll be playing your favorite songs by learning basic guitar chords.
1. Get a chart of guitar chords and look at where the fingering is for each chord
2. Start by simply choosing at least two of the basic chords and work on the transition between the two.
3. Make sure that it sounds good. The fact is that if it sounds good you are probably doing it right. (HINT: If it doesn’t sound good to you, press down on the strings firmer with your fingers.)
4. Now learn to enjoy playing guitar chords by choosing a few of your favorite songs that have these basic guitar chords and play them until you can sing along. (FYI: Beatles have a great selection of well known songs that use basic guitar chords as the foundation.)
5. Play daily! You must remember that although its hard at first, you are going to make progress and it will become easier to play the guitar by consistently playing it.
6. Practice! Remember guitar practice makes perfect guitar music!
Indeed, learning to play the guitar can be a lot of hard work. But then, nobody ever said that when you teach yourself guitar it would be easy, only that it would be worth it.
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