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Bass Guitar Lessons – Common Bass Patterns – Introduction and Overview

What are Bass Guitar Patterns?

Bass patterns are combinations of notes found in certain positions on the fretboard. The position of these patterns do not change no matter where they are played. Sometimes if we were to draw lines to connect these patterns, they would form a certain shape.

Let’s look at the root, 5th, and flat 7th pattern. If we draw lines to connect the notes on this pattern we get a triangle.

Below is a diagram of the root, 5th, and flat 7th for the A major scale:

common bass patterns root 5th and flat 7th triangle

Below is the same root, 5th, and flat 7th pattern – this time for the C major scale:

c major triangle
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Any time you played the root, 5th and flat 7th pattern like the above examples, you could always form this triangle – no matter where you played it on the bass.

Some bass guitar instructors might be upset with me for using the triangle shape example above. That’s because some patterns are more complicated than others and it’s not good practice to be thinking of patterns as shapes. But the point you should remember is that, whether or not a pattern forms a shape, it will always be played the same anywhere on the bass.

Why Learn Patterns

When you are learning to play bass guitar, learning patterns is a great place to start. When you learn patterns, you will come to understand how bass lines are constructed. This makes learning songs, and constructing your own bass lines much easier. The common patterns that we show you here also serve as a foundation for understanding and being able to play more complex patterns.

Learn them in Order

The patterns that we show you build upon each others. We start with the most basic pattern and add on notes to build more complex patterns.

Therefore we recommend that you learn the common bass patterns in the order below:

  1. Root Notes
  2. Octaves
  3. Root and 5th
  4. Root, 5th and Flat 7th
  5. Root, 5th, and 6th

So let’s get started by taking a look at the root notes pattern.

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Updated 2022

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Common Bass Patterns – Introduction and Overview