How to Use a Bass Guitar Chord Chart

When you’re learning to play bass guitar, you’ll want to use a chord chart. They can be helpful when it comes to improvising, composing, and jamming.

They can also be confusing, especially if you’re not used to reading music. They usually include one of two methods for conveying notes: chords in standard notation or chord symbols.


The bass guitar is a very important part of many popular bands. Lead and rhythm guitars typically play high notes, but bass players round out the sound by playing low-end notes. A lot of bassists also use chords in their songs, which can help them stand out from the rest of the band.

If you are a bass player, learning to read and play chords is one of the most crucial aspects of becoming a better musician. It will allow you to understand the music better and make your bass lines sound more recognizable. It will also give you a new set of skills that will make you more than just a background player in the band.

You may be familiar with the way you play chords on a guitar, but this doesn’t mean that it will be easy to learn to read a bass guitar chord chart. There are two basic methods for conveying notes to a bassist on a chord chart: standard notation and chord symbols.

In standard notation, the three notes of a chord are stacked on a musical bar and appear like a regular sheet music. This is the more common method used by bassists when reading a chord chart.

While this is the most basic way to read a chord chart, there are other options that can be more helpful for bassists. For example, some charts include slashes throughout the bar that indicate the rhythm of the song. This can also help you infer what beat to follow when you play with a group of instruments.

Another way to read a chord chart is by using chord tones. A chord ton is a tone that resembles a single note on the fretboard. This will help you to play the chord more clearly and avoid muffled sounds when playing the same note over and over again.

You can find a number of chord tones on the internet, but it is best to stick with just a few key chords until you are confident that you can play them. The key is to know where these notes are on the fretboard so that you can quickly find them when needed.


Triads are the basic harmonies of many songs, and bass guitar players should know their shapes well. They also provide a foundation for creating arpeggios, melodies, and riffs.

There are four main triad types, and they include major, minor, augmented, and diminished. Each triad type has a different root note (the lowest note in the chord) and a unique shape.

The most common triad pattern is the major triad, consisting of a root note, a major third, and a perfect fifth. You can learn the major triad in many ways, but the best way is to memorize its shape and root note.

Once you know these shapes, you can move them up and down the fretboard to create any triad you want. You can even play them up an octave on the bass, which is an excellent technique for improvisation and composition.

You can also use the triads to construct spread chords, which are useful for chord progressions with open strings. A spread chord is a triad with a different root tone as the lowest note, which can be used to imply a specific sound for a chord.

If you want to add a little extra flavor, try playing the root and third notes of a triad while you play the other two. This will add some variety to your triad patterns and can help you create more interesting basslines.

Another useful triad pattern is the augmented triad, which consists of the notes of a major triad plus one more note. This triad pattern is similar to the minor triad, but it includes a fifth note instead of the minor third.

The augmented triad is a great way to add color and texture to your guitar lines, especially when you play it slowly. It can also be useful in comping and soloing.

You can use the augmented triad to play over single bass notes (also called slash chords), which have been a staple of popular music and jazz harmony for years. It can be challenging to get a clear idea of how these chords work and how they function in harmony, but this lesson will help you understand them better so you can make better use of them in your own music.


Sevenths are an important part of many songs, and bass guitar players often use them to add flavor and tension. They’re also a great way to practice rhythm and fingerpicking style. If you’re not familiar with how to play seventh chords on bass, don’t worry – it’s actually pretty simple.

Seventh chords are a type of triad that includes the root, third, and fifth notes of a major scale. They are generally played as open chords on the bass, but can also be barred by pressing down on several strings with one finger.

The first seventh chord we’ll look at is the half-diminished triad, which contains the notes of a minor triad (b3, b5) with a diminished seventh note above it. This is a great chord to use when you want to create tension or color in your music, and you can learn more about how to play this chord in our lesson on How to Use Diminished Chords.

Another seventh chord is the dominant 7th, which is used to add an additional tone to a major triad. It’s commonly played in blues, but can be a useful chord to know when playing solo scales as well.

This chord is easy to learn and is often used in blues music to create tension. Try out some of the free lessons on how to play dominant 7th chords, and you’ll soon be able to add them to your solos!

In addition to the half-diminished triad and dominant seventh chords, there are other seventh chords you can use on your bass. Some of these include the augmented triad, slash chord, and major ninth.

Augmented triads are common in rock and jazz music, as they allow for players to add more than four notes to a triad. They typically have a root, third, and fifth, and can be stacked with a fourth to create multiple seventh chords.

The augmented triad is also an excellent choice for creating a slash chord because it allows you to add a bass note to your chord instead of just the usual root note. Slash chords are often left to the player’s discretion, but they can be quite handy in resolving clashes between a root and a third or a bass and a treble.

Major and Minor

Major and minor chords are one of the most important aspects of bass guitar playing. They help create a mood for songs, build tension, and can tell stories without words. Learn them now, and you’ll have a whole new set of tools at your disposal.

The root, major third, and perfect fifth notes make up a major scale, while the root, minor third, and flatted perfect fifth notes form a minor scale. Major-type scales and chords sound brighter, more cheery, and uplifting. Similarly, minor-type scales and chords sound darker, more sad, and empathetic.

When you begin learning bass guitar, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer number of different chords and scales out there. That’s why a good bass guitar chord chart is a great place to start.

These charts are not only simple to read, but they also offer a number of ways to play these chords in different musical situations. Whether you want to work on your solos, play in a band, or simply strum your favorite songs, a bass guitar chord chart can help you get started with the basics.

Another advantage of using a bass guitar chord chart is that it’s a quick and easy way to change the key of your music when you need to. A chord chart is much more flexible than staff paper, and it’s easier to switch from a major to a minor key without rewriting the entire chart.

In addition, a bass guitar chord chart will allow you to move a shape around the neck to play a different chord with a different root note. This is useful for a variety of styles of music, including jazz, blues, and funk.

You can also use a bass guitar chord chart to work on your ear training. Train your ears to hear the difference between a major triad and a minor triad within a scale, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can tell the difference when you listen to other players play their bass.

Major and minor triads are commonly used in western music, and bassists should know both of these triad types. They are the basis of many common chord progressions in pop and rock songs, as well as jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and funk. They’re also a vital part of improvisational bass playing.