What Is a Bass Guitar Chord?

A bass guitar chord is a standard combination of two to three different notes that are intended to be played simultaneously on different strings on the bass guitar. Bass guitar is distinct from other types of guitars in that bass players rarely play chords in practice sessions or as parts of complete songs. Arpeggios are note combinations that many beginning musicians learn to play separately from the notes of each bass guitar chord. The sound of each chord develops a higher tone as the player’s hand moves up the neck of the bass guitar. Bass guitar chord progression follows a prescribed pattern of finger placements along the fret board, and the sound of each chord develops a higher tone as the player’s hand moves up the neck of the bass guitar.

On instruments used in certain music genres, such as rock and heavy metal, the number of bass guitar strings is usually four. Some basses with five or six strings are designed for jazz or blues music. Each bass guitar chord requires a slightly different approach depending on the instrument type. The E string, which is closest to the musician’s chest, is the thickest string on a four-string bass guitar. The A, D, and G strings are the most common designations for the remaining strings.

Playing bass guitar chords with a bass amplifier allows the musician to check if he or she is producing the correct sound placing his or her fingers correctly between the bass guitar frets. The pitch and tone of each bass guitar chord varies depending on where each finger is pressed between two frets. Some chords call for the fingers to be pressed up against a fret, while others call for more space between the two along the fret board.

The C major chord, which consists of every second note played on the C major scale, is usually the first type of chord that a bass guitar player learns. C, E, and G are the three notes in a bass guitar C major chord, each played on a different string. A triad is another name for this type of three-note chord. The D minor chord is the next triad in a basic bass guitar chord progression; the musician moves from a C major chord to this chord shifting his or her fingers one step away from the previous notes on each string. The finger playing the C note moves to the D note, the E note moves to the F note, and the G note moves to the A note.