How to Read a Bass Guitar Chart

bass guitar chart

Bass guitar charts are useful tools for any musician. They can help you learn chord progressions in any key and provide ideas for bass lines.

Despite the fact that bass players don’t play chords 98% of the time*, they are still important to understand. They are the building blocks of any musical piece.


The strings on a bass guitar chart are represented by horizontal lines and vertical fret numbers. The lower-numbered frets are closer to the headstock, while higher-numbered frets are toward the body of the instrument. Each intersection of a string and a fret represents a note. On a bass guitar, the highest fret is usually the E string, while the lowest fret is the B string.

If there is a curved arrow at the top of a fret number, it means you should bend that note up or down. A ‘1/2’ means a half-step bend, while a ‘full’ indicates a full step bend. A ‘r’ indicates that you should release the bend. Some charts also show you how to pre-bend a string, so that when you pick it, the sound is already in tune.

Most bass players do not play chords very often, since they can sound muddy in the low registers of the bass. When they do use them, they typically play arpeggios, where each note of the chord is played individually and in some pattern. Chords are a great way to add harmony to your bass playing.

Chords on a bass guitar chart are read in the same way as on a standard guitar tab. The only difference is that bass guitar chords typically only include the root and third for triads or the root and seventh for chords. This is because basses cannot play chords that require the index finger to be held down on all the strings at a fret, like bar chords.

Another important aspect of a bass chord chart is that sometimes there will be a tab count written underneath the fret numbers, which lets you know how fast or slow to play the notes. This can be helpful for beginners who may not yet have a sense of rhythm to play the notes at. This type of tab count is not found on all bass chord charts, though.


When starting out on a bass guitar, knowing the frets and how they work is essential. Fortunately, most basses have fret markers that make it easier to learn the fretboard, especially for beginners. These fret markers are called side dots and help you determine where to put your fingers on the string without having to crane your neck to see the fingerboard. The number of frets on a bass varies, but usually there are 20. On most bass guitars, the first fret is marked by a single dot and each subsequent fret has two dots. Some necks even have a third dot, marking the 15th fret. There is also a double-dot marker, indicating the 24th fret, but this is rare for most beginners to need as it is very high on the neck.

Notes are the building blocks of music, and the basic elements that all songs are constructed from. A note is a pitch with a given name, and can be sharp (sharps) or flat (flats). Musicians may not always like to admit it, but deep down they want to understand music theory. It’s important to learn the intervalic relationship of a note and its higher octave on the fretboard. This will help you to easily find any note and its chord or scale pattern on the bass guitar.

The most common notes on the bass are C, D, and G. To play these on the fretboard, a bassist will usually start at the root note, which is indicated by an open circle on the bass guitar chart. For example, on the fifth fret of the E string the root note is C. The next higher note is D, which can be found on the sixth fret. After the D is E, which can be found on the seventh fret and so on.

A fretboard can be confusing to new musicians, but the good news is that once you know a few basic chords and scale patterns, your finger positions will fall into place naturally. It’s a good idea to try out different fingerings for each note so you can figure out what works best for your hand and neck.


Bass guitars are often thought of as rhythm instruments, but they can also be used as chordal instruments. When learning to play bass, it’s important to know how to read a chord chart. A chord chart outlines the notes that make up a particular chord and shows where they are located on the fretboard. A chord chart is a valuable tool for any bass player, especially beginners who need to familiarize themselves with the chords that form their favorite songs.

A bass guitar chord chart combines the fretboard, TAB and music staff into one clear resource. It’s an essential tool for a bassist, bridging the gap between understanding the notes on the fret board and how they relate to TAB and the music staff.

The bass guitar chord chart is an easy-to-read document that displays common note formations for the ‘4 strings’ bass tuned to E, A, D and G. It shows a total of 72 different chords across the 12 standard Western keys. Each chord has an open circle that represents the root of the chord. The black dots represent the chord- and scale-tones. The chart is clearly designed and makes a great resource for the beginner performer.

Bassists who use chords will want to learn how to read a fretboard layout as well as understand the musical alphabet. The bass guitar fretboard works the same as a standard guitar, only with flats and sharps. It’s a good idea to print out a bass guitar fretboard diagram and practice reading it with your fingers.

Chords on a bass are usually played with the index finger and sometimes the middle and ring fingers. A bass chord chart may also use slash chord symbols to simplify some chords. This is particularly useful for beginners who don’t have the vocabulary to describe complicated chords. For example, a Cm7b5 can be written as Ebm/C, which is easier to understand for a beginner.

Bass players can add interest to a song by using inversions of basic triads. This involves changing the order of the chord’s roots and can help a bass line flow more smoothly. For example, a basic triad of C major can be changed to C F A by moving the first root up an octave, and this will create an A minor chord.


Whether you’re new to bass guitar, or a seasoned player looking for ways to improve your musical palette, scales are one of the best tools to add to your arsenal. They help you learn to play a variety of notes that sound good with your chords and melodies, and can be used to create memorable bass lines. But how do you go about learning and memorizing them? This article outlines the most common bass scale patterns and their key fingerings, so you can quickly and easily build up your fretboard skills.

A bass scale is a series of notes that form a particular pattern on the fretboard, which you can repeat to create a melody. For example, the major pentatonic scale is a simple yet powerful bass scale that many players use to create melodies that complement a song’s overall tonality and mood. The minor pentatonic scale, on the other hand, provides a stark contrast to the major scale with a darker and more somber feel that often evokes sadness in music.

To play a scale, you start on the tonic note, or root note, and then follow its pattern up through the octaves. For example, the C Major scale starts on the root note C on the first string and then follows its pattern: C (middle finger) D (ring finger) E (index finger) G (pinky finger) up to the next C, which is an octave higher. Bassists commonly learn multiple scale patterns for each scale, so they can quickly select the right one to play at any given moment.

The major and minor scales are only a small sample of the vast number of bass scales available to musicians. Other notable scales include the chromatic, natural minor, diminished and whole tone scales. All of these can be found on the fretboard using the same pattern, and each of them can offer a different sonic flavor to any bass line that you play. This video lesson explains how to find these scale patterns on the fretboard so that you can practice them with ease and quickly apply them to your bass songs.