I want to play a song on guitar, but I can't find its tab, so I'm transcribing the melody from piano notes. Now I want to add bass notes to certain parts of the melody to make it sound better. What's the easiest way to do this?

The song:

Edit: I do not want to use the left hand notes of the piano since I tried it on guitar and it doesn't sound good. If you could suggest to me a way, or theory through which I could figure this out from the melody itself that would be awesome. Since I can then use this to add bass notes to more melodies I play on guitar.

closed as too broad by Todd Wilcox, Richard, David Bowling, Tim, ttw Nov 15 '18 at 13:53

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Can you explain a little more, what do you mean it doesn't sound good? Can you share an audio file, or a copy of your transcription? – Michael Curtis Nov 9 '18 at 20:11
  • 3
    I’m not sure it’s possible to encapsulate enough theory to understand how to write basslines in a single stack exchange answer. – Todd Wilcox Nov 9 '18 at 20:12

Try using the lowest notes of the piano roll. Of course those are the purple ones all the way to the left.

If you select those left most notes, and select the ones that come on beat 1 every 4 beats, you should have a good, simple bass to go with the melody.

From the beginning you would get the notes: B E A F# | B E A F# | ...

I'm not sure if this could be a source of trouble for you, but the piano role gives notes Dd, F#, and Ab which is terrible to read and use for harmonization. These notes should be C#, F#, and G# putting it clearly in A major. With that key we can start with chords Bm E A F# but a quick review of the piano role seems to use a lot of 'sus' chords and ninth chords.

As Todd mentioned in comments it's hard to summarize how to harmonize a melody in a short SE answer. But, many harmony textbooks include chapters about harmonizing a given bass or melody. Try to find some textbooks to learn those methods. I can tell you that you have to understand keys, meter, non-chord tones, harmonic rhythm, and common chord progressions to create a good harmonization. If any of those elements is not familiar to you, you will need to devote some time to learning them. The following web site gives a descent overview of harmonization:

One caveat: pop and rock music songs often have melodies that don't "agree" with the chords in a standard sense. So you need to apply the textbook methods with some flexibility.


Your question may seem simple, but the answer will be very hard.

As far as I know there is no easy way to do this. To be honest, I'm not even sure that there exist a systematic way to do it.

In order to create a good bass line, you need the chord progression. So step one is to figure out the chord progression. I could probably figure out the chord progression to this song in 5-10 minutes, but I have no idea how I do that. It's just years of experience of jamming and playing by ear.

After you have done that, it's time to use the chords to create the bass line. Again, this is something that takes some experience. The easiest way is to just take the root note of each chord, but no matter how you do it, the chord progression is the key to writing a good bass line.

When you have a descent bass line, you have to figure out a way to play it on guitar. Most likely, you will have to do some compromises, because it may be hard or downright impossible to play the bass line you wrote at the same time you're playing the melody.

  • Yeah I don't think I'll be able to play the base line while playing the melody. Maybe I could use a capo for some notes – Surbhi Agarwal Nov 9 '18 at 20:12
  • I think you have to use the capo for ALL notes, once it's fitted! – Laurence Payne Nov 10 '18 at 13:57

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