Retrofitting II-Vs: Advanced Harmonic Techniques for Bass Players

When it comes to improving your skills on the bass guitar, exploring advanced harmonic techniques is a must. One captivating method, often used by seasoned bass players, is retrofitting II-Vs. This simple yet potent maneuver has the potential to transform your phrases, making them more engaging. In this post, I’ll explain how retrofitting II-Vs works.

Understanding Retrofitting II-Vs

At its core, retrofitting II-Vs involves inserting a II (minor chord) before a V (dominant chord). This seemingly straightforward alteration opens up many possibilities, significantly improving your musical palette. By fusing Major harmony with Diminished and Melodic harmony, you can create complex sounds and phrases that add depth to your playing.

Breaking Down the Options

Retrofitting II-Vs allows bass players to experiment with different chord combinations. Let’s explore some exciting alternatives:

  • Dm/G7: The classic II-V progression, adding a D minor chord before a G7 dominant chord creates a smooth transition.
  • Dm/G7b9: Using a b9 interval in the G7 chord brings tension.
  • G7 Diminished Substitutes: Use the diminished harmony by substituting G7 with diminished chords like Abdim, Bdim, Ddim and Fdim. Each substitution adds a unique colour to your line.
  • Melodic Minor Magic: Embrace the melodic minor scale by incorporating options like Dmin/Fmin (F melodic minor) and Dmin/Bb7#4 (Bb Lydian Dominant). These melodic choices add sophistication into your playing, your lines will go to a whole new level.

Breaking the Myth

Contrary to popular belief, retrofitting II-Vs is not limited to jazz. While jazz musicians have long embraced this technique, its application extends far beyond the confines of jazz gigs. Whether you groove to funk, rock or blues, retrofitting techniques can enhance your fills and solos.

Are you ready to take your bass playing to the next level? Explore the resources available at, including bass ebooks, bass mentorship programs and online lessons, all designed to enhance your bass studies. Happy playing!

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