Keeping It Steady
Let’s try this beat on a C chord. Keep your fingers down in the entire shape
for a C chord. For low notes, we’ll be alternating between the fifth and fourth
- If you play with bare fingers, pluck the bass note with your thumb and make
the brush stroke with your index finger. (Some people like adding one or two
other fingers as well.) The idea behind using your fingers is to get a strong,
bright tone from your fingernail as it sweeps across the string.
- If you use a flatpick, play both the individual bass note and the three
note of the brush with downward strokes of a pick.
- If you use fingerpicks, you’ll probably find them uncomfortable for making
downward strokes. Use your thumbpick to play downward strokes on both the bass
note and the brush.
Every chord has its own alternating bass notes. On some, more than one set of
alternating notes is possible. Here are diagrams of the basic chord shapes along
with the alternating bass string combinations most commonly used.
Not all guitarists choose the same bass notes as their standard pattern. Almost
everyone picks as the first bass note the root note of the chord. The root is the
note the chord is named after—an A note for an A (or A-minor or A7) chord, for example.
The root note is the first of the two bass notes in all the examples above. It’s
good to develop the habit of using the root note first. Once you get the habit down,
you can start to experiment with other choices that might sound better to you at
any given place in a song.