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How To Create Fills Using the 123 Method

Here’s a quick demo on how to begin creating some melodic transitions between chords using the first three scale tones of each chord.

Follow these steps to try this playing through Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God in the key of A.


Step 1 – Know the scale for that key

For this song we are in the key of A major.  If don’t know it already, learn the A major scale in a familiar pattern on your bass.

Step 2 – Know the names and locations of each note in the scale

For the key of A major the notes are A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G# and A.  Please see my corresponding video for a demonstration.  Once you know the notes and their location, make sure you’re using a consistent fingering so you can locate each note without having to look at your fretboard.

For more help on knowing your fretboard and other basics of the bass, download my Bassics pdf by clicking HERE

Step 3 – Play the first three scale tones of each chord.

Play the tonic note (first note) of each chord and add the following 2 notes in the scale sequence, ex. Dmaj7 you simply play a D note then follow with E and F#.  A would be followed by B and C#.

Do this first, by just playing through the chord chart without keeping time.  Become familiar with the 123 notes associated with each chord.  Once you’re familiar with the notes and fingering, try playing through the song and get play the 123 notes of each chord.  Try to be melodic and thoughtful as you create a path from one chord to the next.  Here’s a quick video to explain how to do this using the song How Great is Our God by Chris Tomlin:



2 thoughts on “How To Create Fills Using the 123 Method

  1. Mike, what a great site you have here. I found your site by searching for how to create bass fills. Very helpful.

    1. Thank you Doug! So sorry for my delay as Christmas and travel had distracted me some:-). Looking forward to developing some courses and more tutorials for 2017. Let me know if you have any suggestions or song requests. Thanks! Mike

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