5 Essential Bass Scales For Beginners

Scales are the most important components of learning to play bass guitar, and the more you practice them, the better you’ll understand the notes they contain and which ones best match them.

For beginners, learning bass scales can also help you improve your finger dexterity and get used to navigating the fretboard while playing notes in a particular scale.

To fully understand and play bass scales, the first step would be to know what scales are essential. To elaborate on the matter, a scale is a series of notes that are played on a stringed instrument in a specific manner. Every scale has Its commonalities, in the sense that every scale is made up of 8 notes called octaves and that every scale starts and finishes with a root note.

We are going to take a closer look into the 5 Essential Bass Scales targeted for beginner-level experience. Those are The Major Scale, The Major Pentatonic Scale, The Natural Minor Scale, The Minor Pentatonic Scale, and the Bass Blues Scale.

Before we dive into it, have a look at this great video that explains some basic scales on bass:

The Major Scale

The first on the list is the Major Scale, and It’s definitely the one every bass player should learn to play first. The reason for this is that the Major Scale will serve as the foundation for learning all the other scales on the list.

The formula for any major scale consists of 7 steps, or more famously called ‘intervals’, which are a whole note or a half note.

The formula for The Major Scale is:
1.Root Note
2.Whole Note
3.Whole Note
4.Half Note
5.Whole Note
6.Whole Note
7.Whole Note
8.Half Note

So if you apply this formula to a G major scale, the result will look like this:

1.Root Note G
2.Note A
3.Note B
4.Note C
5.Note D
6.Note E
7.Note F#
8.Note G

The Major Pentatonic Scale

The difference between a Major Scale and a Major Pentatonic Scale is that the Major Scale has 8 notes and the Major Pentatonic scale has 5 notes. For a more efficient way to ease into this, you simply need to omit the 4th and 7th steps of the basic Major Scale formula and you get the Major Pentatonic Scale.

So the formula looks like this:

1.Root Note G
2.Note A
3.Note B
4.Note-omitted
5.Note D
6.Note E
7.Note-omitted
8.Note G

The Natural Minor Scale

The Natural Minor Scale is a complete opposite to the Major Scale in terms of sound, as it sounds more dark and moody. Nevertheless, it is also a key component in effectively learning to play bass.

The same rules apply to this scale, as it has its own formula as well and it looks like this:
1.Root Note
2.Whole Note
3.Half Note
4.Whole Note
5.Whole Note
6.Half Note
7.Whole Note
8.Whole Note

Taking this blueprint and applying it to a C note would give us the following:
1.Root Note C
2.Note D
3.Note Eb
4.Note F
5.Note G
6.Note A
7.Note Bb
8.Note C

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The Minor Pentatonic Scale has Its very own unique formula. The only thing constant is that similar to the Major Pentatonic, you have to omit two of the notes, but those are not the 4th and the 7th, instead, the 2nd and the 6th.

The formula for the Minor Pentatonic scale in C is this:
1.Root Note C
2.Note-omitted
3.Note Eb
4.Note F
5.Note G
6.Note-omitted
7.Note Bb
8.Note C

The Bass Blues Scale

The Blues Scale formula is a variation of the pentatonic major or minor scale. The blues scale, unlike the major and minor pentatonic scales, adds a sixth note to a major or minor pentatonic scale, which is known as ‘the blue note’. It’s this extra tone that gives the fundamental scale its sound.

So the formula looks like this:
1.Whole Note and Half Note
2.Whole Note
3.Half Note
4.Half Note
5.Whole Note and Half Note
6.Whole Note

Taking the above formula and applying it with an A note will give:
1.Root Note A
2.Note C
3.Note D
4.Note D#
5.Note E
6.Note G

Keep in mind that all these scales are transposable, which in turn means that you can use these formulas for any note on the bass, and using the same finger placement, you can dish out a scale in that specific tone.

The fundamental step in developing a solid learning basis for bass playing is to learn the scales. You’ll pick up a lot of information as you master these scales, including how to improve your bass-playing expertise. I hope this was useful and thank you for taking the time to read it.

Summary

It’s important to stick to the basics when learning an instrument. Scales are a pivotal component to learning how to play bass. Learning these essential bass scales will ultimately result in better finger dexterity and hand movement for any beginner as well as better understanding of notes and their structure.

The 5 essential bass scales are The Major Scale, The Major Pentatonic Scale, The Natural Minor Scale, The Minor Pentatonic Scale, and the Bass Blues Scale. Each scale has Its own formula to follow. Think of it as a recipe for successful execution. Learning these formulas and practicing them can only benefit each beginner. You get an invaluable lesson from them, which in turn, leads to a better understanding of your instrument.

Milan Trajkovikj

Milan Trajkovikj

Milan Trajkovikj is a touring and recording bass guitarist who loves to share his passion for all things music.

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