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Playing Notes on Bass

  • Begin by plucking the 4th string (the string closest to your shoulder) without using your fretting hand. This will produce an E note. When you play a string without fretting any of the notes, it is referred to as playing it ‘open’
  • Then, move down the strings and play each individual one ‘open’. This will create the notes A, D, and G. Note how each one sounds higher than the prior note.
  • Go back to the 4th string and put the index finger of your fretting hand on the first fret (this is the initial space found between the nut and the first fret). Hold down the note with your finger pad. As you hold your index finger down firmly on the first fret, use the index finger of your plucking hand to pluck the 4th string. If you have done this right, the sound formed should be somewhat higher than plucking the fourth string alone.
  • Then, move your finger up another half step to the second fret (the space found in between the first and second frets) and pluck the 4th string once again. This should create a slightly higher pitch than the previous note.
  • Go over this exercise with each string. Begin by playing the string open, then use your finger on the first fret, and then with your finger on the second fret. If the notes start to sound stifled, off-key, muffled or just plain bad, look at your fretting finger to make sure that you are holding down the note firmly and your finger is placed directly in the center of the fret. Repeat the exercise until you are comfortable making notes.

Note Position on the Bass Guitar

  • Each of the notes that you have just played corresponds to a specific note value attached to them. Further, each time you moved your finger up or down a fret, it can change the note value.
  • There are 12 different notes that can be played : A | A# | B | C | C# | D | D# | E | F | F# | G | G#
  • Every note is a half-step higher than the one before it and a half step lower than the one following it. When using a bass guitar, a half-step simply refers to one fret. Meaning that the moment you move your finger up to one fret, the note value is increased by half-step.
  • Recall that as you move higher up on the fret board, the note values increased by half-step for each fret. This makes it easy to find any note you want on the fret board. All you need to do is to know which note you are on – and you can either move up or down the neck until you finally reach the note that you have been looking for.