Bluegrass Bass Runs
After youâ€™ve settled into the basic bluegrass and country boom-chuck rhythm pattern, youâ€™re bound to start looking for something else to do with your fingers to help embellish different parts of a song. One easy way to do this is to add bass runs between chords.
Example 3 shows one of the most common bass runs in the key of Gâ€”a simple walkup to the C chord, using the first four notes of the G-major scale: G, A, B, C. If you use your middle finger for the B note, your hand will be in a good position for the C chord.
Example 4 shows a similar bass run, but this time from the G to the D chord. Notice that this run skips the first note of the scale, moving right to B and then C to get to the D note (the root of the D chord) at the beginning of the next measure.
When playing or inventing bass runs, make sure you know where youâ€™re going and when you need to get there. For example, play the two Gâ€“D bass runs in Examples 5 and 6. In Example 5, the run starts on the second beat of the measure rather than the third, as in Example 4. The second beat is a perfectly good time to start, but youâ€™ll notice that you have to add a note: instead of skipping the A note in the scale, you run right up the G scale to D: G, A, B, C, D.
Now imagine that you had this rhythmic idea in mind when you started your run, but instead of starting on A, you started on B. To get to the D chord at the right time, you might insert a C# note between C and D (Example 6). Otherwise youâ€™d get to the D chord a beat early, potentially throwing off your rhythm and eliciting malevolent glares from your fellow band members.
Excerpted from Bluegrass Guitar Essentials
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