How -To Learn Bass Guitar Scales
As a beginning bass student, the most important thing to learn is bass scales. Learning a bass scale is not as hard as it sounds. There are many that are used across all genres of music and all are necessary to the successful bass player.
What Is A Bass Scale?
A scale is composed of the notes in a specific key signature. There are eight notes in a one-octave scale. The key of the scale is the note you start on. If you want to play a G major scale, start on the “G” note; if you want a D” major scale, start on the “D” note. For this article’s purpose, we will discuss the one-octave major scale and the one-octave natural minor scale.
The One Octave Major Bass Scale
This is the first bass scale a beginner should learn. The starting note is the root of the scale. The tones are separated by steps and half-steps. On the fretboard of the bass, one fret is a half-step and two frets are a whole step. The one-octave major bass scale constructed as follows, starting at the root: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step.
Example in C major bass scale:
Start at “C”. A whole step is two frets to “D”. Another whole step up is “E”. A half step up is “F”. A whole step up is “G”. Another whole step up is “A”. Another whole step up is “B”. The final half step up is “C”, which is an octave above the root.
Therefore, the step configuration for a major bass scale: W W H W W W H
All major bass scales, or major scales in general, will follow this pattern.
The One Octave Natural Minor Bass Scale
All bass scales have other scales related to them. One such scale is the one-octave natural minor scale. This bass scale differs from the major scale by three (3) notes. In the natural minor scale, the 3rd, 6th and 7th are all flatted or brought down a half step. This makes the whole step/half step structure as follows, starting at “C”:
Start at “C”. A whole step up is “D”. Now we go up a half step to “Eb”, then a whole step to “F”, a whole step to “G”, a half step to “Ab”, a whole step to “Bb” and finally a whole to the octave “C”. Notice how the 3rd, 6th, and 7th were all a flat of the same note in the major scale. We still star on the same “C” and end on the same octave “C”, but now the scale sounds different.
The step configuration is W H W W H W W