How to Play Octaves on the Bass

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 22,159
    Professional bass guitar player Scott Giambusso demonstrates How to Play Octaves on the Bass guitar.

    Scott Giambusso

    Scott, a native Washingtonian, has been performing for audiences since 1968. A self taught musician, he mainly freelances as an acoustic bassist. Scott also plays guitar, electric bass, and tuba as well as singing in the styles of Nat King Cole, Mel Torme and Jack Bruce. He has worked with The Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Modernaires; The Peter Duchin Orchestra; The Ink Spots; The Tokens; Rory (Disney Channel); Charlie Byrd; Susannah McCorkle; Keely Smith, Jamey Aebersold and Chuck Berry. In spring '07 he performed in a clinic and show with Gene Bertincini at the 4 Seasons DC. Besides playing jazz, Scott's latest project is a Cream tribute band featuring Dan Hovey and John Zidar, (formerly Root Boy Slim's rhythm section). The band is called GHz (Gigahertz} and is breaking sound barriers around town. Besides playing over 200 club dates a year, Mr. Giambusso teaches and performs as a member of the Jazz Faculty of the Montgomery College Music Department. Not only does he teach the bass, but he also coaches singers, pianists and all instrumentalists on the nature of music and operates a recording studio for student demos. Because of his versatility, knowledge of tunes and styles, and his 30+ years of gigging experience, he has the rare ability to explain music to the laymen with clarity of vision.

    Scott Giambusso: Now, I am going to show you how to play octaves on your bass. Now, I said before we have the octave E and twelfth fret is the octave, the higher pitch, its still E, but we can do it in positions on the bass and we are going to get on the bass and do that just right now. Now, this E here on the twelfth fret is also on this seventh fret of the A string and the second fret of the D string which is your second string. So, E open, fourth string, second fret, E on the D string, this is called the octave, and you hear it in music all the time, you certainly heard in the disco era, it is the foundation. When you are playing bass for a bunch of people, your job is to tie the guitar, the piano and the drums together by playing the bass note of the chord thats being played in some kind of appropriate rhythm. The bass note if it is an E cord you want to hit that E, your other choice would be to hit the higher E, but those are your roots, and those are the money notes. So, what we are going to do is take that chromatic scale we played it before with one finger and we are going to play all the octaves. Now, the first open E of course, I am going to play that with the E on the D string with my second finger like that. This was an old Sam & Dave tune called I thank you. So, you could just see thats a fundamental bass line. Now, I am going to go to the next fret, the first fret and I am going to use my pinky, this is upright technique and also down here your little finger is really necessary, you need it to really get around and I am going to really emphasize the little finger. So, here are the octaves I am going to play with right hand switching strings, playing each note twice.

    E, F F Sharp, G G Sharp, A A sharp B C D Flat D, D Sharp EAt this point, right about here on the tenth fret, you could ditch the little finger, but the little finger isnt all mighty important, you want to develop, it is the strongest finger on my hand. You could go up, now you see my little finger is floating which is good because it gives me some versatility in reaching for upper intervals. So, those are octaves on the fourth and second string and of course you can do the same thing on any of the strings. Here I am going to go in the middle of neck. This fret is your tuning fret, fifth fret, E, there is an octave there, octave there is A, octave here is D, so you have all and you want to memorize that, you want to get where you can play an octave without thinking about it. There is one another way to play an octave and it is the harder stretch and it involves your little finger and we are going to do that too. I am going to go to the fifth fret on my bass, on the E string, and I am going to play an A, and I am going to reach all the way over here on the second fret of the G string, because a lot of guys dont use their little finger they dont have access to this, but this is going to be a fundamental position for us in the coming lessons, so think about this, when we do the next lesson. Thanks.