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Root or Fifth First in Bass Strum Style?

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Dave T
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 239
Topic starter  

I'm a bit confused on this as far as the first bass note to hit in a sequence. Some of the lessons show the root first then the strums, then the fifth, then the strums, other lessons are the other way around.

I'm not sure whether to stick strictly to the root-fifth pattern and just use that everywhere or try to learn both ways.

Or just go with the flow...


David Hodge
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4472

Typically, you'd start with the root. That being said, though, there can be times when you might do otherwise in order to make a song more interesting. For instance, if you're doing a song in C and there is a repeated sequence of C to F, you could use root-fifth (C - G) for the C chord and then fifth-root (C - F) for the F chord, which would produce a nice effect of playing the C every other note.

Ultimately, it's your decision, but if you're unsure it's a good bet to start with the root.

Hope this helps.


Active Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 6

Hi Dave,

Realistically, either way works but the ability to do both gives you the option to vary this part for a desired effect. Having the ability to vary it can be useful. In some cases, according to key, chord transitions, and tunings, it might not sound right whereas in others it will sound fine. Practicing this option to be consciously able to make such a switch on the fly makes it easier to do correctly.

Bottom line is, what sounds good to you with the piece you are playing where you are using this technique?

Best regards,

Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1497

IMHO root first should be the default, but as others have already said, not the hard fast rule.

I always do root first on the first chord of a song or after a key change to establish the key, then keep root first unless my artistic (or un-artistic) muse tells me that in a particular situation, fifth first would work better.


Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

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