The Top Five Notes on My Bass Guitar

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PHOTO BY TODD OWYOUNG. FULL SLIDESHOW: RUSH

Editor: Mr. Sawyer-Dickhoff has been playing bass guitar for a little over a year, ever since he visited the Experience Music Project and did that hands-on exhibit where you learn how to play some two-note Beatles bass line. He bought himself Yamaha and a little amp, and quickly discovered that the bottom third of the notes caused highly satisfying vibrations. Ahem. Two weeks later he was an expert.

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PHOTO BY JON GITCHOFF. FULL SLIDESHOW: PHISH

5) G. This is played by striking the smallest open string, the one farthest away from you. You bang on this a lot if your song is in D. It's pretty high and squirrely for a bass note, so it won't make your pants leg flap as much. Hence the low ranking.

4) B. If you're gonna play something in the key of E, you're gonna have to eventually play that B note. This requires "fretting" this note. Pain in the ass, we know, but this music shit involves sacrifices. We have also heard tales of open B strings on 5 string basses. But those instruments have gotta be either for prog rock or jazz fusion. So Fuck. That. Shit.

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3) A. The A note is where we start getting kinda awesome. You get this one by banging repeatedly -- duh duh duh -- on the second fattest and second closest string to you. You end up doing this a lot in the keys of both D and E which like 100% of your songs will be in unless you're some sorta fancy-pants music-school pussy.

PHOTO BY JASON STOFF. FULL SLIDESHOW: TWINS OF EVIL TOUR

2) E. In a normal tuning, this is the biggest fattest string and closest to you and a lot of your songs will use it a lot. Major pant leg flappage, so just whale on this bad boy. Would've won the number one note, but was barely edged out by...

PHOTO BY JASON STOFF
  • Photo by Jason Stoff

1) D. You can play a D by hitting that second skinniest string. And it's OK, not quite as good as A, a little better than G. And this note would've been between those two notes if it wasn't for this really cool trick. See, you take that already great E string and you crank that tuning peg a little looser (not loser, that's what those fucking fusion players are), and you got another D but one fuck of a lot lower (those music-school pussies call it an "octave"). Just hop back and forth from the one to the other for 5 minutes or so and you got yourself a fucking song, bra!

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