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Unread 03-17-2012, 06:55 PM   #1

Joined: May 2004
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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How to riff on basic chord progressions

I'm playing bass at my church now (native guitar player, but they needed a bass player) and do well with the basic chords/notes in straight time or syncopated (whatever the drums are doing). I'm looking to take it to the next level though.

What are some tips or tricks I can learn to spice it up? I'd like to learn:
- how to do runs to go from the last chord of a progression to the "root" progression (such as a verse to a chorus)
- after hitting the root note of the next chord in the progression, what to do from there to spice things up in terms of which notes to hit, hammer-ons or other tricks, etc.
- any other tricks that would make it more interesting

Currently I'll stick mostly to the chord progression is written, maybe throw in an octave (using either the "power chord" fingering structure to hit the octave, or jumping to the relative fret above the 12th fret).

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you,
always struggling on your behalf in his prayers,
that you may stand mature and fully assured
in all the will of God.
--Colossians 4:12 ESV
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Unread 03-17-2012, 10:21 PM   #2
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I've found that a lot of the things that work for lead guitar (in terms of pattern) can work on bass, though I tend to try to fit those things within the rhythmic structure of whatever song I'm playing, whereas lead guitarists tend to throw rhythmic structure out the window.

As far as turnarounds go, I tend towards walk up/down riffs, depending on the feel of the song. I don't always necessarily hit every note along the way either. For example, on a song with a basic G-D-Em-C progression, I may walk up from C to G by hitting the D, E and F# in between, or I may just throw a B between the C and G and work down. Once again, it just depends on what fits the song.

Other little hammer on type things I'll do involve sliding between root half-step down (G-F#-G-F#...) or a full step up (G-A-G-A).

Often on bass, less is more. As long as what you're doing is fitting the song, then your role is being filled.
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Unread 04-28-2012, 11:57 AM   #3
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Using the 3rd and 5th tones of a chord/scale sound really nice to add some filler. So over a C, using E and G, and over a Cm, using Eb and G.

I've been finding that in a corporate worship setting, it seems to go good when I lay pretty far back, kinda playing in a way so people don't have to think about the song and they can just focus on worshipping.
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Unread 05-19-2012, 12:37 PM   #4
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To add on to what's been said, learn some scales (hopefully you already know some).

You can also use passing notes. So for example if youre playong the progression Em-C-G-D, you can play C then play b once before you go to G.
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