How to Play Major Chords on Bass Guitar

major chords on bass guitar

Learning movable bass patterns and riffs that you can play over chords is one way to create interesting-sounding bass lines without being limited by scales. Arpeggios (movable patterns) usually begin by starting from the written chord root before skipping notes up (or down) an octave – this process is called going chromatically.


Triads are fundamental building blocks of harmony found across all musical genres. Recognizing and applying them to bass patterns will help you become a more well-rounded musician.

Triad chords consist of three notes that interact in order to produce an even, full sound when playing them together – root note, major third and perfect fifth. Together these notes produce a full, stable sound even when bass notes shift up an octave while playing other chord members within bass notes.

A triad’s quality is determined by its component intervals, such as major, minor, diminished or augmented intervals. Written music indicates the position of a triad in its bass using Arabic numerals – 5/3 indicates root position while 6/3 denotes first or second inversion respectively.

Triads’ appeal lies in their versatility: by moving up and down the fretboard to produce different triad shapes, the same pattern can produce numerous bass accompaniments (notes played to accompany a soloist) while providing you with melodic ideas for solo playing.


When playing major chords on bass guitar it is essential to remember that they contain three notes – root, third and fifth. A chord would not be complete unless these elements were included.

Root chords contain three notes; their bottom note, major third and perfect fifth are each separated by two tones from their respective roots; when practicing these chords it’s essential to use their correct intervals in order to obtain maximum benefit from them.

Arpeggios are a technique that enables players to play individual notes of a chord in an organized manner, giving you the power to create melodies over chord progressions and transition between various chords and keys easily and smoothly. Arpeggios can be especially beneficial to bassists and should be put through rigorous practice sessions for best results.


There are various major chords, each with their own distinct sound. Of the more prevalent major chords on bass is one with which many songs will incorporate, lending bright, happy feelings. It can be played across genres including rock and metal; bassists often employing power chords which consist of root, 5th and an octave above root in these styles of playback.

Bassists may use interval chords – made up of two or more notes spaced apart – to avoid creating an unpleasant sound on their bass. Common examples are 1st, 3rd and 5th interval chords which form a C major triad.

Most major scales on bass guitar are transposed, and most have movable patterns which can be moved around the fretboard to play different chords. For instance, G major has such an adaptable diagram which allows it to be moved around.


Playing chords on bass guitar may seem counterintuitive since this instrument is traditionally designed to serve as the rhythmic foundation. However, many bassists have discovered that adding chords can bring new dimensions of musicality and creativity to their playing experience.

Chords are formed through intervals, so it is crucial that you master your scales. A basic voicing for an E minor chord would include playing its root note on your open E string before moving one fret up onto A string with F note at third fret, before back down again onto D string at second fret with A note as an E note and A note respectively.

Create a broken G major arpeggio by switching up D, F# and A by an octave higher. Chromatic steps add depth to chordal playing; as with everything musical, let your ears decide what sounds best!