My StudyBass

Common Bass Patterns Summary

In this lesson section we have covered a number of easy bass note patterns often used by bass players. We looked at roots to chords, octaves, roots and fifths, the root-fifth-flat seventh pattern, the root-fifth-sixth pattern, and approach notes. As you gain more experience learning and creating basslines, you will be surprised just how much this handful of patterns covers in basic bass playing.

A lot can come from learning these patterns in the beginning. I chose these bass patterns for several reasons:

  • to help give beginners some easy to apply patterns right away
  • to help beginners start to recognize the sound of these patterns
  • to begin an understanding of notes and their relationship to chords, the bass fretboard, and fingering possibilities
  • the patterns are comfortable to play
  • the patterns can be applied broadly in all styles of bass-playing
  • the patterns require little, if any, knowledge of chords or scales, so as to not overwhelm beginning bass players

Start Creating Basslines

One point of this lesson section is to give you beginning bass players some simple note patterns for creating your own basslines. I think it’s a good idea to start making up your own basslines from day one. Why wait? As a bassist you’ll be expected to create your own lines most of the time — often on the spot. It’s very important to include creating basslines in your daily practice routine. You have to practice creativity, too. (A lot!)

Absorbing the Sounds of the Common Bass Patterns

The more time you spend exploring each note pattern’s sound, the sooner you will start hearing them in your head and knowing where to put your fingers to find them. You need to remember music is just another language. These patterns become part of your bass-playing vocabulary just like words in your speaking language vocabulary. With time you will be able to thoughtlessly spit them out in nanoseconds placing them correctly, just like words.

Combining the Common Bass Patterns

Most basslines don’t stick to one note pattern and use it throughout. I just made the examples that way for the sake of teaching each concept. Instead, various note patterns are mixed, matched and combined in numerous ways. Just think of the patterns as tools. Some jobs just require a hammer; others require a hammer, a saw, glue, and a drill. You might use one pattern on one chord or a combination of three of them. On the next chord you might use some other combination. The possibilities are limitless. 

Here are a few basslines combining the common bass note patterns discussed in this lesson section. See if you can create your own basslines combining the patterns we've discussed on chord progressions you know or come across.

The next step will be to learn all about chord patterns, scales, and rhythm. For now, have fun with your new tools!