Bass Guitar Note Charts

Jim Josselyn
Sheet music
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Are you in search of the great bass line? Just getting started and want to master the notes on the bass? The following bass guitar note chart and accompanying lessons and assignments will help you achieve your goals of becoming a better bassist and more knowledgeable musician.

Printable Examples

The five examples in this printable will serve as the basis for this lesson. To print, click on the image. If you need help, consult this Guide for Adobe Printables.

Putting It Into Practice

The open strings of the bass are, from low to high, E A D G. A tried and true method for memorization is the use of a mnemonic device, such as Elvis Always Did Good. Regardless of how you memorize the open strings, that is where you should start. Example one on the Bass Guitar Note Chart shows the open strings. The following exercises are an action plan for mastery.

  1. Once you've memorized the open strings, play the notes E D A E for four beats each. That is a common pattern found in songs like the Rolling Stones Sympathy For The Devil and many, many others.
  2. Play the notes to this chord progression: A | D | A | A | D | D | A | A | E | D | A | E || This is a basic 12 bar blues in the key of A.
  3. Play the notes to this chord progression with eighth notes: E | E | D | G D E || Those are the changes to the main riff of Black Sabbath's Paranoid.
  4. Create patterns of your own using only the open strings. Vary your rhythm, tempo, and meter.

Moving Up the Neck

Examples two through five on the Bass Guitar Note Chart move up the neck using a few different "movable" scales. A movable scale on a string instrument is one with no open strings so that it can be played anywhere on the fingerboard.

  1. Example two is the notes in the C major scale in the first position from low E on the fourth string to A on the first string. Memorize these notes and practice seeing them and hearing them.
  2. There are now many more combinations available to you. C | G | A | F || and A | G | F | E || are things that should sound familiar. Find or create more.
  3. Example three is a pattern for the G major scale. You can play this pattern starting on any fret on the bass.
  4. Play and sing along with the notes in the major scales you play. See what melodies or chord patterns you hear.
  5. Example four is a pattern for the G minor pentatonic scale. Play this pattern on different frets, up and down and evenly.
  6. Once you are comfortable with the minor pentatonic scale, start improvising with it. Put a metronome on a medium tempo and just start playing.
  7. Example five is the chromatic scale in the first position. This includes all 12 notes that you have to use. Say them, play them, and memorize them.
  8. Taking the information from example five, find every other note on your bass. Download and print the Bass Guitar Note Chart and write the rest of the notes on example five.

Further Resources

The following online sites have useful information on bass guitar note charts and can help augment the lesson presented here.

One More Note

There are four levels of music: rhythm, bass, harmony, and melody, and all are equal. In many musical situations, the bassist will be given a chord progression and expected to create a bass line on the spot. Learning what the notes are and where they are on the bass is a great first step to being able to do that quickly and correctly every time. Learning chord/scale relationships, chord theory, and listening to many styles of music will also help a great deal. So get to work, start grooving, and as Paul Rudd says in I Love You, Man start "slappin' da' bass mon".

Bass Guitar Note Charts