| country guitar | bass parts
Learn Country Guitar: 3 Tips To Create Professional Bass Parts
Traditional country songs all feature strong bass parts, in fact
many tunes were recorded with two bass parts, a string bass
(upright bass) that duplicated and reinforced the electric bass.
Sometimes the electric bass was played with a pick to give more
definition. Playing with a pick created a brighter sound which
produced an audible 'click' a split second before the actual
On the other hand, some country record producers preferred the
electric bass player to use a felt pick. Felt picks are usually
used for playing ukuleles, however when used on an electric bass
can produce a sound similar to that of an upright bass.
Often a guitar player finds himself or herself in a situation
where there isn't a backing band to help them present their
material, that's when it's handy to be able to create your own
bass part on the guitar.
Here's three tips to help you create great sounding bass parts on
1. Tonic note on first beat
The most important thing to remember when creating a bass part
is to play the tonic note on the first beat. This is an very
basic idea, but one that must not be overlooked.
The tonic note is the same name as the chord e.g., if you were
playing a 'D' chord the tonic note would be 'D'.
Here is how you would apply this principle, let's say you have a
rhythm guitar part that consisted of the following 8 bars:
D D G G
//// | //// | //// |//// |
A7 A7 D D
//// | //// | //// |//// ||
Simply replace the first strum in each bar with a bass note the
same name as the chord, in the instance of A7, use the note 'A'.
D D G G
D/// | D/// | G/// |G/// |
A7 A7 D D
A/// | A/// | D/// |D/// ||
Regardless of the chord type e.g., whether it is a major, minor
or seventh chord etc., you still play the tonic note i.e., a bass
note the same letter name as the chord itself.
2. Learn to create alternating bass parts
The next step is to create an alternating bass part, this is done
by playing the tonic note on beat one of the bar then playing the
fifth of the chord on the third beat.
Again, using 'D' chord as an example: the tonic would be 'D' and
the fifth note (the alternating note) would be 'A'.
D, E, F#, G, A
1, 2, 3 , 4, 5
Notice how I had to make the third note F# because the key of D
contains two sharps F# and C#.
Using this concept you can easily create professional bass
parts for any major, minor or dominant seventh chord.
Here's another example this time using A7: the tonic would be 'A'
and the fifth note (the alternating note) would be 'E'.
A, B, C#, D, E
1, 2, 3 , 4, 5
3. Bass patterns in 3/4 time
Country songs in 3/4 time require special treatment, there's two
ways to can approach this challenge.
(a) use exclusively the 'tonic only' on the first beat bass part
approach like this:
D D G G
D// | D// | G// |G// |
A7 A7 D D
A// | A// | D// |D// ||
(b) when there are two bars of the same chord use alternating
bass and when there is only one bar of a chord use 'tonic' on the
Like this ...
D D G A7
D// | D// | G// |A// |
Em A7 D D
E// | A// | D// |D// ||
Even if you do play with a bass player the octave difference
between the pitch of the notes on a guitar and bass guitar will
make certain your bass parts won't get in the way of the bass
player, in fact it will sound great especially if you palm mute
your bass part on the guitar.
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