How to Create a Minor Groove for the Bass Guitar

You’re playing with the band as a bass guitarist, jamming on a dominant groove …but wait …what if the guy in charge yells, very enthusiastically, “Let’s jam in D minor!” Uh, oh…a minor adjustment is in order. Relax. Here’s the process:

1

Determine the root of the chord.

In this case, the chord is D minor (Dm or Dm7), so the root of the chord is D.

2

Decide what kind of groove skeleton you want to play.

Check above for the basic choices.

3

Choose the appropriate scale for the chord.

For the D minor chord in this example, the proper scale is D Dorian.

To play the D Dorian scale, start the scale on the 5th fret of the A string and end it on the 7th fret of the G string. Choose the notes for your groove from this scale. You can pick the choice notes from the intervals.

4

Position your left hand.

You want to avoid any unnecessary shifts with your left hand. The D Dorian scale requires one (itty, bitty) shift, however, so it’s best to begin the D Dorian scale with the index finger of your left hand on the root D (5th fret of the A string).

You can reach all the notes of the scale from this position until you get to the G string. At that point, you need to shift your hand toward the nut by one fret to reach the remaining three notes.

5

Determine how mobile your groove needs to be.

Your groove has to be mobile if the tune has different chords. Be sure to create a groove that’s simple. Choose only a few notes that are easy to play. Even though the D Dorian scale requires you to shift your hand, you don’t have to play every note in that scale. You may decide to choose only the notes of the scale that you can reach from one position.

If you stay on one chord for a while (which is the likely scenario if someone wants to jam in D minor), you can make your groove a bit more complex to keep it interesting. Notice that neither of the two grooves requires any shifting with the left hand.

On Track 40, Check out the steps necessary when creating a minor groove. First, the D minor chord is played on the keyboard, with the bass adding the root. Next, different groove skeletons are played on the root of the chord. Then you can hear the sound of the Dorian mode, the correct scale for D minor.

Finally, you can listen to a simple groove in D minor, followed by a complex groove in D minor. Follow this process.

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