During the holidays, Christmas songs are played everywhere, all the time Thus, as a musician, it is hard not to get inspired to play some of them yourself.
Christmas songs are rarely played as solo bass arrangements. However, while making this list, I found that some of them lend themselves very well to this purpose.
This is because the warm and smooth low notes on the bass have the perfect timber for slow and calm Christmas songs. As for the fast and upbeat ones, high staccato notes on the bass can be played to sound both groovy and cheerful.
Therefore, I have arranged 5 popular Christmas songs for the bass guitar. I also made sure to pick songs that were on the easier side. Because of this, you can play these songs regardless of your skill level at the bass.
As an added bonus, playing Christmas songs can even decrease stress, and improve your mood. Thus, learning these Christmas songs on the bass won`t just be fun, it will actually be good for you. With that, let`s get to it.
1. Silent Night
The great thing about Silent Night is that the vocal part sounds like a bass line. It has a slow tempo, lots of sustained notes, and some simple fills. Thus, if it wasn`t the well-known Christmas song it is, this could easily pass as the bassline of a slow ballad.
Because of this, I made a transcription of the song that emphasizes deep notes. This way, you can play this recognizable Christmas tune, while using the low-end range of your bass to make it sound warmer and darker.
Like several other songs on this list, this song is played in a 3/4 waltz rhythm. If you are unfamiliar with 3/4 time, this is however the perfect introduction to it.
This is because the song is very beginner-friendly, due to its slow speed and emphasis on long notes. Thus, if you are looking for a non-challenging Christmas song to learn quickly, it will be hard to find a better pick than “Silent Night”.
2. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
For another song in 3/4 time, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” is a simple and upbeat song to play on the bass guitar.
In addition to being a great Christmas song, it is also a fun song to play for beginners. This is because it has a simple rhythm that combines quarter and 8th notes. As a result, the melody is easy to play without feeling too repetitive or boring.
It also has a good bit of melodic movement in it. However, all of these leaps are very easy to reach on the fretboard. So, much so, that you can play this song with 2 fingers, as you will only be using the 2nd and 3rd fret on your bass.
Thus, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” is a great Christmas song to learn on the bass if you are looking for an easy song that is a bit more upbeat than “Silent Night”.
3. Carol Of The Bells
For something a little darker, try this bass arrangement of “Carol Of The Bells”.
The song is based on an extremely simple 4 note main motif. It is very catchy, and likely to be stuck in your head until easter rolls around. Especially so if you play this song repeatedly, as the main motif makes up most of the song.
In terms of difficulty, this song is similar to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, though the middle part of this song is slightly harder.
It will have you moving a bit more across the fretboard, but the finger patterns are again fairly simple. However, there are some melodic shifts during this part of the song that require a bit of focus. Luckily, these utilize the open A and D string, which makes it less demanding to play for your fretting hand.
As a solo arrangement, I put more emphasis on repeating the melodic interlude. I did this in order to not make the bassline too boring to play or to listen to. Thus, feel free to repeat the main melody more times than listed in the tab if you find that more fun than I did.
4. Joy To The World
For a Christmas bass song that makes use of the high range of the bass, give “Joy To The World” a try.
The main melody of this classic tune has a good bit of variation in it. It thus lends itself well to being played as a solo bass piece. Due to the upbeat feeling of the song and the structure of the melody, I also found that this one sounded best when played high up on the fretboard.
Despite the varied melody, it is however a relatively easy piece of music to play. This is because the melody mainly moves in half and whole steps the whole way. The finger patterns required to play this song are thus intuitive as notes are always close to another.
Rhythmically, it can be a bit more tricky due to the dotted notes in it. It can thus be helpful to practice the song with a metronome to make sure you are getting the timing of these right. Especially so if you are unfamiliar with these types of rhythms.
5. Jingle Bells
For a slightly harder song, try playing “Jingle Bells” instead.
If the song had a higher tempo, this vocal line could easily have passed as a fun punk bass line. This is because it is already somewhat fast, and many parts repeat the same note in rapid succession. There are also some small melodic variations in it, that lend themselves well to sounding like bass fills.
Something to watch out for on this tune is to keep strings dampened and muted. I say this because the song has several melodic parts that shift between open and fretted notes. As the melody is quite fast, unplayed open strings can thus end up ringing out, which will ruin the sound of the piece.
Thus, depending on your skill level, playing “Jingle Bells” slowly at first could be helpful in playing it with sufficient control. As you get comfortable keeping strings muted at slow speeds, it will become easier to play the line faster than if you jumped straight into playing it at full speed.