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How to Play Double Stops & Triple Stops on Bass Guitar

Learn how to play double stops and triple stops on the bass guitar from musician John Sutton in this online guitar lesson from Howcast.


"This is how to play double stops and triple stops in basic guitar. Double stops mean that we are playing two notes in combination at the same time. Triple stops mean that we are playing three notes together. Even though this doesn't happen on a regular basis for a lot of base players, we can still use it and keep it in our back pocket as a great tool. Because it can be a colorful warm way to play.

One way to practice playing double stops in a very common set of two notes is a major third. We are going to practice this by playing G, on the fifth thread on the D string. And then B, on the fourth thread of the G-string. When we play them together, we can play them by raking both strings with our right hand.

Now we can play a G-scale for instance, or the notes of a G-scale with each hand. So let's think about this. On the D-string the first four notes of a G-scale will be G, A, B and C. And for starting on B with our other finger on the G-string, the four notes we come across from the G-scale, are B, the third note C, D, and E. If we play them together, it will sound like this.

So we can practice playing through sets of thirds to get used to that sounds. They don't necessarily always have to come from scales. But we want to think about these from the top down because we are hearing them as a melody. So if you make a melody shape, you can find the second note that will color it the way you want it.

Another way to play thirds, we call ‘tenths'. That means you drop the lower note down one octave, the major tenth is one thread away, three strings up. So if I'm playing G, on the low E-string, my major tenth or a major third one octave up, is the B on the fourth thread. If we do the similar pattern to what we played, that we played with just playing thirds, we can get a sound like this.

So the major tenths are two strings up and one thread over and minor tenths are on the same thread, three strings up.


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