Knowing when and how to use bass guitar chords is a vital to your playing. Unlike many chord-based instruments like a Piano, as bassist we don’t play chords all the time.
So when should you use them?
Well if you’re playing a certain song you obviously use them when
the song tells you to, either in the Tab or Sheet music.
If however you want to create your own bass lines or spice up an
existing song you can add chords wherever you like.
In most pop, rock and blues music chords on bass are not played
constantly. They are often mixed in with bass line to help
strengthen the music being played. Sometimes you will find you
play a chord, followed by a bass lick.
You can also end a song on a chord. This works well for almost
any song. As long as you know what the ending chord is you can
play it on the last beat. Sometimes with double stops (2 note
chords) you can slide into them and this can have a nice sounding
You could also play an entire piece with just bass chords, all
though this is not typically common.
Like all music, it’s a creative thing and up to you to experiment
incorporating chords into your playing. There are no hard and fast
rules of when to play a bass chord if you’re creating your own bass
So have fun with them, mix them in songs when you’re practising
and then use them when you play. By knowing bass guitar chords you
can stand out as a bass player as you have an extra tool to use in
The 7 Common Bass Guitar Chords
Lets now jump straight into looking at the 7 most common bass
chords and how to play them on your bass guitar. These are what I
like to call the ‘core’ chords as these 7 are used in more songs and
more often then any others. That’s why knowing these gives you
the keys and unlocks the majority of chords you’ll come across in
Here they are: (Print these out if you can)
A5 (fifth) chord
A4 (fourth) chord
A3 (third) chord
Ok now we move onto the 3 note chords.