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Bass Guitar Notes and Learning How to Play Them

This article is aimed at helping the beginner bass guitar player to learn the notes of the bass guitar. If you want to play bass guitar you

The Cmaj chord in guitar, with bass in G

The Cmaj chord in guitar, with bass in G (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

will need to know the names of seven notes and their places on the bass guitar fretboard. Once you know where the notes are you will automatically know where the sharps and flats are located. Playing bass is an easy to learn skill from a technical point of view. After all, for the bass guitar you do not need to learn chords. At least not at the start. While you are learning the notes on the fret board you could start right away on learning the bass parts to some of your favorite songs from tabs. The big task ahead of you is getting the ability to take your place as a part of the group you are in. Learning the notes is a start, learning them so that you so not have to think about them takes time and practice.

Here are the notes as they appear on the bass guitar fretboard:




You will notice that I have written the sharp symbol (#) on the diagram of the bass fret board. You probably already know that one man’s sharp is another man’s flat according to which key the song is in. For instance F# could also be called Gb (G flat) because it is both the note above F and the note below G. Easy to understand but complicated to explain.

Usually you begin learning bass guitar by using the E and A strings to play the bass line of some easy songs. You could begin by simply memorizing where the notes are but it will help if you set yourself the task of learning a song or two. Your memory always appreciates some help from your body and your feelings, so trying to learn some songs will help you get the notes under your skin. You will note that I have only given you the first ten frets. You will see that this is one octave on each string. Once you have the notes on those frets off by heart, the remaining notes will be much easier to learn.

If you take a look at the diagram of the fret board, you will see that the note at the fifth fret of the E string (A) is the note on the next open string, so once you play up to the fifth fret, you can either continue playing up the neck or you  can start playing the notes on the next string. If you have already learned to play the guitar this will not be a surprise to you. Now that I have explained the basics, if your head is spinning a little, just go back to the simplicity of what you are learning: four strings, four octaves made up of seven notes. Bass guitar is a blast, enjoy!