The Bass Clef or F Clef

Learning Notes on the Bass Clef

The Bass Clef and the Treble Clef are the most commonly used in today's music, with the Alto and Tenor clefs used to a lesser degree.

Instruments using the bass clef include bass guitar, double-bass, bassoon, contrabassoon, cello, euphonium, baritone horn, tuba, and timpani. It is also used for the lower notes of the horn along with bass and baritone voices.

Keyboard instruments as well as the harp use both the Bass and Treble Clef (Grand Stave). On keyboard instruments, the left hand usually plays the bass-clef notes.

The Clefs

A clef is a musical symbol placed on the ledger lines at the start of every piece of music to indicate the names of the notes placed on the stave. It also serves as a reference point by which all other notes can be determined.

Treble and Bass Clef Notes
Treble and Bass Clef

The 3 clefs used in modern music notation are:
  • the G clef, where the G-line (G4) passes through the curl of the symbol
    There is only 1 instance of a G clef - Treble Clef
  • the C clef - in this example, the C-line (C4/middle C) passes through the center of the clef. Other instances of the C-clef are the Alto Clef (C-clef placed on the 3rd line of the stave) & Tenor clef (C-clef placed on the 4th line of the stave).
    The line that runs through the center of a C-clef is always middle C (C4).
  • the F clef where the F-line (F3) passes between the 2 dots of the clef
    There is only 1 instance of an F clef - Bass Clef

The F clef

Bass Clef Symbol

When the F clef is placed on the 4th line of the stave, it is called the Bass Clef. It is the only F-clef used in music of the modern era, therefore the names are synonymous. The diagram shows the F-line (F3) passing between the 2 dots of the clef.

In days gone by, if the F-clef was placed on the 3rd line of the Stave, it was called the Baritone Clef; if the F-clef was placed on the 5th line, it was called the sub-bass clef... these clefs are no longer in use.

Notes on the Bass Clef

Bass Clef Notes

These are common saying used to remember the notes of the Bass-Clef, but you can make up your own - whatever it takes to remember the notes. Another common saying for notes on the lines is, Good Boys Deserve Fruit Always.

Video Presentation: Understanding and Identifying the notes on the Bass-Clef by MrTheoryGuy

Back to Music Theory Back to Top

Contact Me

A seasoned performer joyfully playing the guitar