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Bass Guitar Lessons – The Root and 5th Pattern

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What is a Root and 5th Pattern?

Bass Guitar Lessons – The Root and 5th Pattern – > Along with root patterns and octave patterns, the root and 5th pattern is one of the most commonly played patterns on the bass guitar. It can be used alone or played in combination with other patterns.

The root and 5th pattern is the root note and 5th note of any scale (chord) being played in a song. The pattern is easy to remember because it is played in the same position any where on the bass fretboard – no matter what scale you are playing.

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Identifying the 5th’s

The 5th is simply the 5th note of any scale being played. Below is a C major scale with the 5th note highlighted:

c major 5th highlighted

Especially for beginning bass players, it’s not necessary to understand the scale you are playing in order to identify the 5th note of the scale. Instead you simply need to remember the position of the root and 5th on the fretboard – this pattern stays the same no matter which scale you are playing.

One String and Two Frets Higher

When playing a 5th above the root note (higher pitch), the pattern will always be one string higher, and two frets up (higher). The diagram below shows the 5th above the root of G:

root and 5th above

Next String Lower Same Fret

When playing the 5th below the root note (lower pitch) the 5th note is always the next string lower on the same fret. The diagram below shows the the 5th note below the root of C:

root and 5th pattern below

Again, the 5th patterns are always the same no matter what scale you are playing.

Playing the Root and 5th Patterns on Bass

Root patterns are among the most commonly used bass patterns. Often bass lines consist of only root and 5th patterns played with fills. The role of a bassist should be to play the right amount of notes while emphasizing the root of chords – along with keeping the rhythm and timing of a song. Root and 5th patterns by themselves are often all that is needed to play a great sounding bassline.

Root and 5th patterns can be used in combination with other patterns or more complex basslines. For example, they fit well with octave patterns. Root and 5th patterns can used in just about any genre of music you want to play. So make sure you commit this pattern to memory and make an effort to incorporate it into your playing.

Bass Player Center – Root and 5th Video Lessons

This video provides an overview of the Root and 5th:

Bass Guitar Patterns - The Root and 5th Bass Pattern - Beginner Basics Lesson

This video shows you exercises that you can use to practice the Root and 5th pattern:

Bass Guitar Practice Exercises -The Root and 5th Pattern

Songs that Use the Root and 5th Pattern

Here’s a video of me playing “Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton. The bass line uses the root and 5th’s of the chords – A root and E 5th, D root and A 5th, E root and B 5th. The bass line helps create that classic country, “honky tonk” feel.

Lay Down Sally - Eric Clapton - Bass Cover / Lesson

Here is the isolated bass line (bass only) for “Lay Down Sally”…

Lay Down Sally - Eric Clapton - Isolated Bass

“Maria, Maria” by Santana – The song’s bass line uses the roots and 5ths of the chords being played – A (A and E), D (D and A), E (E and B)

Santana - Maria Maria ft. The Product G&B (Official Video)

“Love Me Do” by the Beatles – Paul McCartney plays the roots and 5ths of chords pretty much throughout this entire song:

Love Me Do (Remastered 2009)
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Bass Guitar Lessons – The Root and 5th Pattern