Bass Lines – Any Style – with Just 2 Notes – for Beginners

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If you’re a beginner bassist, you don’t need tons of notes to improve your bass lines - you only need 2. (take it from Alex Trebek)

0:00 - I’ll take Root-Fifth for $1000
0:50 - Roots n’ Fifths Explained in 47 Seconds
1:57 - Fifths Are Stable
4:25 - Fifths Fit With Roots
7:13 - Fifths Won’t Clash
8:35 - Make Your Own Bass Lines
9:31 - Country Bass Formula
10:46 - Bossa Nova Bass Formula
13:19 - Soul Bass Formula
14:25 - Rock Bass Formula

Adam Neely’s video on Girl From Ipanema

That’s right - we’re talking root and fifth, the most powerful notes in bass.

You might have already heard of these and even played them, but in this video we're going to dive deeper into exactly why root and fifth are the most awesomest of notes, where you can find them in popular songs, and how you can use ‘em to create your own solid bass lines in any style, even as a beginner.

I’ll start from the super basics, so if “root fifth” sounds like technical jargon to you now, it’ll make sense by 2 minutes into the lesson.

Then our friend Science Josh will make an appearance to break down some of the science behind roots and fifths - there’s actually some cool physics behind the reason bass players love these notes so much.

We’ll test that out in the field with Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” one of the most iconic root fifth bass lines. I’ll show you what it sounds like with other scale notes swapped in for the fifth. (hint: not great)

Adding fifths to a bass line creates momentum that propels the song forward. I’ll show you how important that is in “Under Pressure” by Queen, and we’ll listen to the line with and without the fifth.

Then I’ll show you some of the versatility of the root-fifth pattern with “On The Other Side” by The Strokes, which has a tasty bass line that works great on major and minor chords.

I’ll wrap it up by showing you formulas to create your own root-fifth lines in a variety of styles, using examples from classic songs like “Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash, “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver, “Girl From Ipanema” by Getz/Gilberto, and “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg” by the Ramones.

And Science Josh sneaks in a cool Rush bass line at the end. So science-y.

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-Josh Fossgreen

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