Bass Guitar Hangout

Learn How To Play Bass Guitar

Here is a quick and easy guide to show you how to read bass guitar chords.

A lot of bass music online is in bass tab format, so it’s important you know how to make sense of them.

Below is an example of a blank bass tab diagram. Each of the lines represents a string on your bass guitar.

G —————————-
D —————————-
A —————————-
E —————————-

The bottom line is the E string, which is the thickest string on your bass.

The top string is the G string, the thinnest string.

G ——————————-
D ——————–4———-
A ——–1—-4—————-
E —2—————————

In bass tab the notes are shown as fret numbers. The fret number is written on the string that you play.

In the above example you would play the 2nd fret on the E string followed by the 1st fret on the A-string, then the 4th fret on the Astring, and finally the 4th fret on the D string.

Now for chords the fret numbers are simply stack on top of each other. This means that you then play them all at the same time.

Example of a Chord in Tab


So as you can see for the A chord, you would fret the 9th fret of
the G string, the 11th fret of the D string and the 12th fret of the A
string all at the same time. This would give you an A chord.

By the way when you see bass guitar chords without a small letter ‘m’ after them that is a major chord. So the above example is an ‘A Major Chord’.

Chords with a small ‘m’ are minor chords. So if you saw a chord
that was ‘Am’ that’s an ‘A Minor Chord’.

So now you know how to read bass chords!

Peace, Love and Rock n Roll,

Tom Boyd


13 Responses so far.

  1. lee0038 says:

    hey dude, this was so awsome man, thanks to this i learned how to read tabs QUICK! this is so cul bro. :)

    Peace,Love & Rock N’ Roll.

  2. Tom Boyd says:

    Hey Lee,

    Glad I could help you out :)

  3. rafaytalat says:

    thanks mr.tom boyd……
    i am from pakistan and we dont have any guitar learnin school here in pakistan so ur lessons did really helped us all a great deal…… more question is what are these octaves majors and minors ………

  4. Tom Boyd says:

    Thank you for your kind words.

    An octave is neither major nor minor, because it is the same note with a higher or lower pitch.

    For example the 5th fret of the E string is an A note. The 7th fret of the D string is also an A and would be one octave higher.

    I hope that helps :-)

  5. ismael says:

    Thanks Mr. Tom Boyds…
    I can say that I’m still a beginner in playing bass guitar and your lesson helps me a lot in palying basically…

    Hope to know from you more…