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Lessons for Beginners: Notes

Notes are the basic building blocks of all music. Knowing the notes and how to play them on the bass guitar is very important. The bass guitar has an "alphabet" of 12 different notes: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#.

It is important to know the notes and how to play them on your bass guitar. If you have a four-stringed bass guitar, then from top to bottom, the strings correspond to the notes G, D, A, and E. Each note on the scale of A to G# is half a step higher than the one preceding it. On the bass guitar, half a step equals one fret. Every time you move your finger one fret up the neck, the note that you play increases by half a step.

The following diagram shows the notes in relation to each fret on a bass guitar with four strings:

notes on the bass guitar

The "#" sign means "sharp." So the note labelled "C#" is known as "C sharp." Determine where all these notes are on your bass guitar. While using this diagram as a guide, you may want to slowly play each note and say its name as you play it. This will get you used to where each note is.

You will see on the diagram that the 5th note from the left (or up the neck of the bass guitar) is exactly half a step lower than the 1st note on the string above it. This allows you to play higher notes by moving up one string and down the neck of the bass guitar, rather than going further up the neck.

Practice playing each note in ascending and descending order. Remember that if you play a string "open" (without pressing it down on any of the frets) then it will play the note after which it is named. For example, playing the top string "open" is the note "G."

The key points of this lesson are:

  • The notes on a bass guitar are: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#. Each note is half a step higher than the one before it, which corresponds to one fret higher on the bass guitar.
  • Become familiar with all the notes. Remember that there is no # (sharp) for B and E. Say the names of the notes out loud as you play them slowly.
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Further Reading

Where to Find Bass Guitars for Sale Online - Discusses the best online musical instrument stores for bass guitars and other gear.

Beginner and Cheap Bass Guitars - Find out what you need to know before buying an inexpensive bass guitar.

Bass Guitar Resource Guide - Learn more and improve your bass guitar playing ability with online lessons, books, DVDs, CDs, and private lessons.

Beginner Online Bass Guitar Lessons - No Bass Guitar Required - Start learning the bass guitar right now, without an actual bass guitar, by studying music and notes. If you have a bass guitar, you can use these lessons to begin practicing as well.

Guide to Amplifiers - Learn how amplifiers and other sound equipment make the bass guitar sound louder and better!


Hal Leonard Bass Method - The Complete Edition


Learn to play the bass guitar with the help of this book. This is one of the best books that I have found for learning to play the bass guitar.

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