The root, 5th, and 6th pattern is another common bass pattern. It is built off of the root and 5th pattern. With this pattern we again are simply adding another note to the root and 5th. This time we are adding the 6th note of any major scale being played in a song.
Below is a diagram that shows the A major scale with the 6th note highlighted:
Here is a diagram of the same scale showing just the root, 5th, and 6th:
Finding the 6th Note
You can find the 6th note by identifying the 6th note of any major scale. However, if you don’t yet know your scales (which you should eventually learn) you can still easily find the 6th note.
The 6th is always going to be 2 notes (frets) above (higher pitch) the 5th note. In the diagram below, the 5th note is an E. The 6th note is an F# – 2 notes above the E.
Here it is again being played on the same string 2 notes (frets) above the E…
You can also always find the 6th note three notes (frets) below (lower pitch) the root note. The diagram below shows the roots of A. The 6th note is 3 notes (frets) below (lower pitch) the higher octave root A.
Root, 5th and 6th Bassline – Example Video
Below is a video of me playing a simple bassline using the Root, 5th, and 6th for the scales of D major, F major, A Major, and G Major. For the D major chord I’m playing the D (root), A (5th), and B (6th). For the F major I’m playing the F (root), C (5th) and D (6th) – > notice I am playing the higher F and lower C and D. For the A Major I’m playing the A (root), E (5th) and F# (6th). For the G Major I’m playing the G (root), D (5th) and E (6th) – > again I’m playing the higher G and lower D and E.
When to Play the Root, 5th, and 6th Pattern
In general, the pattern should work any time it is played with a major scale (chord). Major scales and chords are used to play happier, brighter songs. So the root, 5th and 6th is most commonly used to emphasize happier, cheerful songs. The pattern can be found extensively throughout funk and R&B music. As always,use your ear to be the judge to decide whether or not the 6th fits and sounds good.
Songs that Use the Root, 5th and 6th Pattern
Here’s a video of me covering “California Girls” by The Beach Boys. The root, 5th, and 6th notes of the chords are being played on top of the chords throughout the entire song:
- B – R B, 5 F#, 6 G#
- E – R E, 5 B, 6 C#
- F# – R F#, 5 C#, 6 D#
“She Caught the Katy” performed by The Blues Brothers – In this bassline the root and 5th are being used with the 6th note added above and below the root. The chords are being emphasized by the root and 5th with the 6th played to add a melodic groove.
“Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive – The root, 5th and 6th are played throughout the song:
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The Root, 5th and 6th Bass Pattern