In this bass guitar lesson we are going to take a look at the “Box Shape”. This is a left hand position that is very useful in when developing a bass line’s that have a “groove” or “hook” feel to them. Prime examples of this shape are the verse to The Temptations Get Ready, The Beatles Taxman and the blues classic Messin’ With The Kid.
I approach the box shape two ways one major and one minor we shall first look at the Major. Both the major and minor box shapes can be started on the A or E String. For both of these patterns I use my 1st (index) and 4th (pinky) finger. Though some of you might find using your 3rd (ring) finger easier. I find that especially in lower positions using the pinky creates a more comfortable playing position.
In the major box shape notated below we are outlining the notes of a dominant chord omitting the 3rd. Root, Fifth, Flat Seventh and the Octave
In the minor box shape notated below the notes change depending on which string you are playing on. If we are starting on the E string we are covering the Root, Flat Third, Flat Sixth and Flat Seventh. There is also the option to add the Flat Seventh below the Root. Which always a money note. If we are starting on the A string your we have the Root, the Fifth and Flat Seventh below the root and the Flat Third and Perfect Fourth above. While it might seem odd to have the perfect fourth here, I find it helps add a nice tension over minor chords and gets us out of the rut of sticking to root fifth or root third motion.
Once you have both of these shapes under your finger tips explore the endless possibilities that they represent. Remember you can use as a stationary section as in the Get Ready Example or move the same pattern you create around to cover the chord changes as in Taxman and Messin’ With The Kid. If you have any questions or are interested in taking bass lessons please get a hold of me. Happy Bass Playing!
1373 Grandview Ave Suite 213 Columbus, Ohio 43212 (614)262-9586