Bass Guitar Chord Chart for Beginners
Bass guitar chords are simply a fingering pattern that results in a harmonious set of notes when played all at once. Even
though typical bass playing rarely calls for strumming across strings the way guitar chording does, knowing the chord
progression as well as the notes and fingering “shapes” helps a bassist hear and play appropriate harmonies that suit the
mood and feel of a song.
The number and variety of chords that can be played on the bass guitar neck may seem daunting, but fortunately, the
beginner only needs to learn how a few shapes are built to know the basic bass chords. Moving these patterns up and
down the neck will allow playing in any key.
Bass Guitar Chords
Because the bass is providing low-frequency, foundational notes, playing several notes at once will often sound muddy
and indistinct. But the notes that make up a chord, and the chord progressions that make up a song, provide the
outline for the single-note lines that the bassist plays. While a guitar may play the three or more notes that make up a
chord with one strum, the bass will play those same notes, the "chord tones," one at a time. The sequence they are
played in depends on the melodic movement of the song, but sometimes the notes will simply be played in order,
ascending or descending, in which case we call the line an arpeggio.
In this sense, playing chords on bass guitar is similar to playing scales. There will be more notes in a scale but by
selecting certain of those – typically the root, the third and the fifth – chord tones define the structure of the bass line.
The bass chord charts here illustrate potential shapes for C chords and G chords. For C Major, we would typically play
the root on the A string at the third fret, a third on the D string at the second fret, and another root on the G string at
the fifth fret. (Playing all these up an octave, above the 12th fret, makes the reach easier and keeps the tones clearer.)
Now sliding that shape on the neck allows other chords: on the A string fifth fret, it’s a D Major, seventh fret is E
Major and so on.
Similarly, G Major is built with the root on the E string at the third fret, the third on the A string at the second fret,
and another root on the D string at the fifth fret. Slide this shape up two frets for A Major, another two for B Major,
and so on.
Bass Guitar Chord Chart