How to Play Minor Chords on Bass

Learning minor chords on bass is essential to working effectively with pianists or guitarists in band situations, and this lesson will show you how to play moveable bass chord shapes in G minor’s minor key.

Chords possess different qualities determined by musical intervals between their chord tones (notes that make up a chord), so bass players play an essential role in supporting and grounding these shifts in harmony.

Root Note

As a rule of thumb, when playing the bass it’s best to focus on playing the root note whenever a chord changes – this way it sounds right every time and makes playing easier for bassists.

At first glance it may be tempting to play an interesting bass pattern that utilizes two or more notes from your chord; however this should only be attempted when there is a very compelling reason. Non-chord bass notes work best in certain circumstances and could cause the overall sound of the chord to become disjointed and sound less clear.

For optimal minor chord bass playing, one should focus on three notes – the root, third, and fifth of each chord. The root note can be found on the first string at its third fret – it will likely be E – while three frets up at sixth fret is C (sixth note); five is found two frets higher up on its fifth fret with G as fifth note – these notes work for major, minor, augmented, or diminished chords but may not work well with extensions such as sevenths or ninths chords.

Minor Third

The third is an essential interval to understand in chords and scales as well as musical progressions. It consists of three half steps (semitones), and is often abbreviated as “m3.”

When looking at any major-sounding scale or chord, they all contain the same 3rd note; what differentiates between them and minor sounds are their other notes that determine whether they sound major or minor. This determines their overall tone.

To create a minor chord we will need to flatten the third of any scale or chord we are playing by shifting its shape up and down until reaching its root note – in this instance E – which requires moving our shape two frets to reach it; we will then play an A at sixth fret which creates C minor which can then serve as the second chord in an I V I progression.

Minor Fifth

A minor triad is formed from two notes that are separated by a minor interval – that is, one less half step than major interval. This difference creates the minor sound associated with this chord type. While any note from any scale could serve as the minor interval for such chords, most frequently third in scale gives minor sound to these chords.

Subtracting one third to make an augmented fifth can add suspense and unease, something used by Bill Withers in many of his songs such as Ain’t No Sunshine.

Raising the third is another simple and effective way of turning a minor chord into a major one, and is quite often used in classical as well as jazz, pop, R&B and country music. It works particularly well when applied in minor key melodies – just because its third falls a whole step below the tonic key of its original key!

Major Third

Most scales and chords contain both major and minor intervals, such as in a dominant 7th chord which features both major 3rds and minor sevenths. The difference between minor and major chords lies in one note; its third. A minor triad has its distinctive sound due to a flattened third note; by contrast a major one features natural or unflattened thirds which gives its major sound.

Now you understand how to play a minor chord on the bass guitar, remembering to move up and down the fretboard using the movable grids you used for major chords to achieve different voicings for it. Simply change its root note for an entirely new chord voicing! Experiment with playing some arpeggios using these different voicings; you might be amazed how well they work in some songs!