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How to Play Easy Bass Lines in Fingerstyle Guitar

Learn how to play easy bass lines from guitarist Adam Smale in this online fingerstyle guitar lesson from Howcast.


An easy way into getting yourself playing some bass lines, is arpeggiating the chord. If you don't know what an arpeggio is, an arpeggio is breaking the notes up in a chord and playing them separately. You can think of an arpeggio as a broken chord, and a chord as a frozen arpeggio, meaning that you're playing all the notes at the same time, more or less.

Let's start with a blues in the key of E. There's three notes that make up your basic E chord, and they are [playing guitar] E, G sharp, and B. We're going to use that as our basic bass line. Let's get used to just playing our bass line notes first, and we're just going to try and get used to just using our thumb. So, [playing guitar] E, G sharp, B, and you come back to the G sharp. It creates a nice little bass line for ourselves.

Now, when we need to switch to the A chord, because we're in the key of E, we're going to do exactly the same thing, but just shift it up and base it off the fifth string. So, we're going to go [playing guitar] A, C sharp, and E. Those are the notes that make up an A chord. [playing guitar] Come back to the E.

Then finally, our last chord is going to be a B. We have to do a little tricky thing here, we're going to have to play [playing guitar] B, stretch up to play D sharp, and then F sharp on the fourth string. So, [playing guitar] B is on the fifth string, D sharp is on the fifth string, and then we move up to the fourth string and play F sharp. [playing guitar] B, D sharp, F sharp are the three notes that make up a B major chord.

So, let's try and put this whole thing together. [playing guitar] E, A, E, B, E. Now, as you've got that happening, see if you can put a little bit of information of some chords in there. So, you can just go, [playing guitar] and play in a little bit of an A chord. Back to E. If I want to switch to the B, maybe I'll do this. I'm playing just basically two notes here.

I can grab three actually, if I want. I can play [playing guitar] A with my first finger, a D sharp, and then an F sharp with my first finger that I'm kind of barring here on the second fret, but reach down enough that I can grab the B [playing guitar] and play those exact same notes that we did for the B chord before, for the bass line. [playing guitar]

And that should get you started.

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