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Diatonic Chord Position with an A-String Root

In this lesson we'll look at another way to play the same seven diatonic chords of the major scale. If the lessons in this lesson block have been overwhelming, you might skip this lesson and come back to it later.

If you're really applying these diatonic chords in your playing situation, this lesson will be invaluable.

The Limitation of One Position

While applying the diatonic chord shapes we've learned in this lesson block, you may have noticed a problem. You can use this shape in all keys, but for some keys this position is too high on the fretboard.

On a four-string bass, playing in the key of D would place the root of the key on the 10th fret. That's pretty high. Most of the time bass players are needed to play lower than that.

Learning Another Position

To overcome this problem, you need to learn the same seven diatonic chords in another movable (no open strings) position. There are many other major scale positions in which you can play these diatonic chords. I'll show you the next most useful one where the root of the key is on the A-string. Combined with the position you already know from this lesson block, these two positions will cover all 12 keys in a useful, low range.

Let's learn this next position which extends the one-octave major scale...

The Major Scale Position – A-string Root

 

In this position, you should recognize the C major scale from C on the A-string to C on the G-string.

Notice the major scale is extended lower by four notes – B, A, G, and F. These are the 7th, 6th, 5th, and 4th of the C major scale in the next lower octave.

As in the first major scale shape we learned, the scale may sound funny starting on the 4th (F). If you play the root of the key (C) as a final note, it will sound resolved and correct to you.

Within this position we will play the seven diatonic chords in the key of C major:

Cmaj7 (I), Dm7 (ii), Em7 (iii), Fmaj7 (IV), G7 (V), Am7 (vi), and Bm7b5 (vii).

The good news? Only one of the arpeggio shapes in this position will be new to you. You've already played the other six shapes. Let's learn each arpeggio shape...

The I Chord

 

This is the same old major 7th chord shape you should know by now. In the key of C major, the I chord is Cmaj7, or a C major triad.

The ii Chord

 

This is the same ii chord shape you learned in the first diatonic chord position. In the key of C major, the ii chord is Dm7, or a Dm triad.

The iii Chord

 

The iii chord shape is that same “upside-down” minor chord shape we used on the vi chord in the major scale position. In the key of C major, the iii chord is Em7, or an Em triad.

On the next page we'll cover the IV, V, vi, and vii chords...

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