How To Create An Alternating Fifths Bass Line On Drop-2 and Drop-3 Voicings

Adding Alternating Fifths To Drop-2 and  Drop-3 Voicings In Jazz Comping

When playing solo guitar or performing in a duo, adding a bass line to your guitar comping provides an extra layer to the arrangement.  The easiest way to perform a bass line while comping is to use roots and fifths, which fit comfortably into drop-2 and drop-3 voicings.  

A perfect fifth can be added to root position drop-3 voicings rooted on the sixth string pretty easily.  By barring the chord with the first finger, you can place the third finger (or the fourth finger in the case of the major seven voicing) on the fifth string two frets ahead of the root.  This is the perfect fifth of the chord.  This style of comping works well with Latin genres and a typical rhythm pattern alternates the root and fifth in a dotted quarter to eighth note pattern while the rest of the chord is plucked on beats two and four.  Practice this pattern on all three chord types in the exercises below. 

Adding alternating fifths to root position drop-2 voicings rooted on the fifth string is even easier.  The perfect fifth is located on the sixth string at the same fret as the root of the drop-2 voicing.  Therefore, it is easy to shift the first finger back and forth to play the bass line.  Practice this method using a Latin groove in the following examples.

These methods can be combined for practice on II-V-I progressions.  The following examples work through two different eight measure II-V-I progressions, the first beginning with a sixth string root while the second begins with a fifth string root.  

The third and fourth examples compress the previous progressions down to four measures. Once these examples are mastered, begin applying this technique to a jazz standard with myriad II-V-Is, such as Tune Up.

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