7 May 2010

3 Beginner Guitar Bass Runs

Here's a lesson for beginners that will show you how to play three easy guitar bass runs. They are an ideal step up for the beginner guitarist who's already mastered basic strumming patterns. They will give you a new challenge and allow you to create fun and cool sounding accompaniments.

A bass run is created when you use a melodic line played on the lower strings of the guitar to pass from one chord to another. Sometimes, the bass run can even completely replace a chord for a bar or so of music.

The examples in this lesson all use easy open chord progressions that should be familiar to most beginners. Examples are presented in guitar tab so you'll need to be familiar with this notation to follow along. Ready? Then here we go...

Guitar Bass Run Example 1

Here's a bass run with a bluesy feel over an E major to A major chord progression.

The bluesy sound is given by the 3rd to 4th fret run at the end of the E chord. These notes are the minor and major third of the chord, this kind of hopping between a major and a minor sound is characteristic of the blues.

Those two notes also lead by half steps into the root note of the A chord at the start of the next bar. The note is played on the open fifth string, but if you notice that it's the same note as the fifth fret of the sixth string you'll understand why the preceding notes work well.

      E                 A
    
      1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
 e ||-----0-----0-----|-----------------||
 B ||-----0-----0-----|---2---2---------||
 G ||-----1-----1-----|---2---2---------||
 D ||-----2-----2-----|---2---2---------||
 A ||-------0h2-------|-0---------0-2-3-||
 E ||-0-----------3-4-|-----------------||

Guitar Bass Run Example 2

Here's a bass run using notes from the G major pentatonic scale. We've also added some hammer-ons to add flavour to the sound, pick only the first note of these.

This kind of sound works great with the open G, C and D chords found in songs in the key of G. It is a technique widely used in country influenced rock songs. You can use runs with the notes below over all three chords.

      G                 C
    
      1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
 e ||-3---3-----------|---------0-0-0---||
 B ||-3---3-----------|---------1-1-1---||
 G ||-0---0-----------|---------0-0-0---||
 D ||-0---0-----0h2---|-----0h2-2-2-2---||
 A ||-2---2-0h2-----2-|-3-------3-3-3---||
 E ||-3---3-----------|-----------------||

Guitar Bass Run Example 3

Another example on E and A chords, this time using a more rock sound inspired by Jimi Hendrix.

Hammer-ons are used again in these bass runs. The open notes should be played quickly, pick the open string just before the beat and hammer immediately onto the second fret on the beat.

      E                        A
    
      1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &   1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &
 e ||-------0----------------|-------0----------------||
 B ||-------0----------------|-------2----------------||
 G ||-------0----------------|-------2----------------||
 D ||-2-----2---0h2---0h2----|-------2---0h2---0h2----||
 A ||-2-----2--------2-----2-|-0-----0--------------2-||
 E ||-0-----0----------------|------------------------||

Conclusion

Guitar bass runs are a great way to develop your rhythm guitar playing to improve on simple strumming. Learn the examples above and then try to make up some more variations of your own by changing notes or timing.

Resources
The Guitar Building Blocks Series - Bass Runs and How to Use Them


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