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Bass Guitar Scales Major Or Minor?
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Bass Guitar Scales Major Or Minor?

All of us want to learn the really cool bass licks to our favorite songs and there is nothing wrong with that but it's important to know why those notes sound so good together. Bass guitar scales are a good place to start looking for the answer to that question. In this article I will be discussing the characteristic differences between the sounds of the major and minor scales so you can find the tones and note patterns in your favorite songs.

In general terms some people describe the major scale sound as happy and the minor scale sound as dark. For example the first three notes of the Star Spangled Banner in the key of G is E, B, G or major 5th, major 3rd, and root note. The first three notes of Smoke On The Water, in the key of E is E, G, A or root note, minor 3rd, and 4th. There are many variations and positions of major and minor scales but for today's lesson will be playing a major and minor scale in the first position.

Learning and practicing the scales and modes in all 12 keys will help your ear development and improvisational skills. Look at these examples as patterns or shapes you can play while finding the notes in your favorite songs. Some songs may be more difficult to hear than others and some will have a mixture of both major and minor scale tones. I discuss the scales that can be used with both chords in another lesson. You can also apply what you memorize in this lesson to reading basic chord charts. The major scale is used with major chords as well as major 6th and major 7th chords. The minor scale is generally played with minor 7th chords. Listen to the difference in these two fundamental scales by focusing on the major and minor 3rd and 7th notes of each scale.

The major scale is a series of 8 notes that includes major 3rd and 7th notes.

Keep your fingers stretched out in a 4 finger spread using the index, middle, ring, and pinky for each note used in the scale. Start in the key of G with your middle finger at the 3rd fret of the E string. Play all eight notes up the scale until you reach the high G note. Repeat this pattern in all 12 keys.

The minor scale is a series of 8 notes that includes minor 3rd and 7th notes.

In the key of G start with your index finger on the 3rd fret of the E string. Remember to keep your fingers stretched out. Then repeat in all 12 keys.

Don't over think this exercise it's for ear training and pattern memorization. Relax and have fun with it. This is a fundamental that should not be overlooked and once learned will make more advanced lessons a little easier.


Street Talk

Some very "makes sense" advice, Robert. Direct and easy to follow. Drummer myself and own 3 basses. Cheers!

Reply
  about 4 years ago

Good article, Robert. People don't realize how important learning scales is on any instrument. Often, they don't know the first thing about them so here is a great way to change that. Best Regards, Jim

Reply
  about 4 years ago
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