Bass Note Picking

If you've been working on the last few chapters, you are probably ready to add some variety to those standard progressions. Bass note picking is an accompaniment technique used to enhance plain strumming. You can hear this technique used in many styles of music. Country music being the most dominant.

Bass Note Picking - Key of G

In the key of G, start with an open G chord and pick the lowest note (G) then follow it up by strumming the rest of the chord. Keep repeating this pattern over and over with all the chords until you get it smooth. Be sure to pay attention to your tempo and be aware of your chord changes.

Note: Don't worry about the last bar being as long as 3 of the previous ones. It doesn't matter, this is just done (sometimes) to keep the page uniform.

Try this technique with chords from other keys using lowest sounding note of each chord.

Alternating Bass Note Picking - Key of G

Here is another technique used to enhance plain strums. Alternating bass note picking is the same as bass note picking except you alternate the notes that are picked.

Using the key of G, start with the lowest note of the G chord - then follow it up by strumming the rest of the strings. Now pick the next highest note of the chord (this would be the 5th string note; B) and follow it up by strumming the rest. Keep repeating this pattern for as long as you hold the G chord, keeping with the beat (in 4/4 time you have enough room to complete this whole sequence). Notice the C and D strum pattern. In the case of the C chord, pick the first note of the C chord then just move your 3rd finger to the 6th string 3rd fret (low G note - it's in a C chord) and pick that note to alternate.

Here is another way to add variety to your strumming. Use the same strumming method as above. Instead of just hitting the 2nd alternate note in the chord, use a Hammer-On to sound it. A hammer on is done by starting with one note and "hammering" or placing (hard), a finger on the same string - without picking it. It takes some practice but after a while, it comes. The tab indication of a hammer-on is an "h" (or "H") in between two notes.

Once again, use these techniques with chords from other keys. There is no "rule" book for which notes to use when using these techniques. Listen to songs until you get other ideas and incorporate them into your playing.