Major triad arpeggios in all 12 keys.

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another technique lesson. 


In this one we will practice on major triads, learning to play each key individually on the electric bass, from root position to I and II inversion. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to play major triads in all twelve keys, in every position, promised! 


But first, what is a major triad? Simply said, a succession of the three most important notes of any given scale, these being in the present case: 

  • root (the first note of the scale, the one that establishes the key); 

  • major third;

  • perfect fifth. 

Seen from another perspective, a mayor triad is part of a major scale played every other note, as we can see here. 

The three degrees of the major triad (like any other arpeggio, as we will see in future lessons) are not at all times played in the order root-third-fifth, but they can be mixed and played in different positions: when the note on the bass is either the third or the fifth, we have what we call inversions. When a major triad is in root position, the root is on the bass, while in I inversion it will be the major third, and in II inversion the perfect fifth.

To recap: 


Major triad in root position: root - major third - perfect fifth.

Major triad in I inversion: major third - perfect fifth - root

Major triad in II inversion: perfect fifth - root - major third

In the last part of this lesson you will practice the major triads in all twelve keys. In each exercise you will learn to play a specific key in root position, I and II inversion, on the two octaves of a 4-string electric bass. 


Now, if you are asking yourself why you need to go through the pain of practicing major triads in all positions on both octaves of your instrument, this is the answer: establishing a practice routine based on the full scale of your instrument since the beginning will be of great help to master your fretboard in a fraction of the time, while allowing you to think outside the box in terms of fingerings. 


If you are just starting out on the bass, you will learn from the beginning to use the full scale of your instrument, which will give you a great advantage in terms of technique and fretboard knowledge. If you’re already an experienced bass player and never practiced triads that way, those exercises will fill a gap, giving you a different perspective on major triads, and their possible combinations on the electric bass.    


In other words, meaningful and extremely effective practice! 


Remember: since bass players are at the bottom end of the band from the harmonic standpoint, they are required mostly to play triads, so this is a very important lesson for you to master.

Before digging into the twelve keys of major triads, one last thing to point out: even if, given the nature of the electric bass, every arpeggio has more than one fingering option, they can be reduced to few recurring ones. Don't forget to take your time and explore new options in terms of fingerings! Practice each key out of tempo at first, and make sure that you can play fluently the exercise before using the metronome.

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Bb major

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That was it for this lesson. Use the previous charts as a tool to expand your knowledge of the fretboard, and take your time to absorb the fingerings. 


Thank you for reading, happy practice and see you in the next lesson!

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