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bass guitar
major and minor scales
fingers
Learn Bass Guitar Scales A Free Lesson
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One of the first things a new bass student should do is to begin learning major and minor scales. As I have stated before, this is the best way to learn the fingerboard. So, let's talk about the fingerboard. If my student was blind I would describe the fingerboard to him.

The metal piece on top has grooves in it to hold each string in place and is called the nut. There is a space between the nut and the next metal piece imbeded in the fingerboard. The metal pieces embeded in the fingerboard are called frets. If you run your finger down the fingerboard and count the frets you will discover there are twenty of them. There is a space between each fret and it is in the spaces we will place our fingers and hold the string down firmly. While holding the string down, we pluck it and get a tone.

Tones of any instrument are produced by something vibrating. On the bass guitar the thing that vibrates is the string. We can change the tone and the vibration as we shorten or lengthen the string. An open string will be as long as it will get and will vibrate in a certain cycle to produce a tone. A cycle is the back and forth movement of the string and one movement back and forth is one cycle. Therefore when you hear someone talking about the note A 440 or concert A (the note the orchestra will tune to), they are referring to the 440 cycles in the vibrations that produces the tone concert A.

Pluck the thickest string. It should be the one closest to you. That is the tone E. Ok, now place your index finger in the first space following the nut. Pluck the string while firmly holding your finger in place. You've shortened the string and are getting another tone. This is the tone F. The tone F is one half step or half tone higher than E. Now, place your second finger in the space between the first and second fret and while pressing both the index finger in the first space and the second finger in the second space firmly, pluck the string. A different tone is heard and the tone is one half step higher and is called F sharp (F# is the musical symbol). Continuing on, place the third finger in the space between the 2nd and 3rd fret and while pressing all three fingers down firmly, pluck the string. You get the tone G which is one half tone higher than F# and one whole tone higher than the tone F. ( Note: In music, like in math , 2 halfs equal 1 whole) Next, with the fouth finger placed in the space between the third and fourth fret and while pressing down all four fingers pluck the string. This is the tone G#.

Now do the same thing on the A string. That's the next string to the E string. You get the following tones: A A# B C C#. And the same thing to the next string over, the D string. and you'll get the following tones: D D# E F F#. And once again to the next string over, the G string. You get the following tones: G G# A A# B. Now without stopping start on the E string and play this little exercise on each string. You've just played chromatically from E to B in one and one half octaves.

Learn To Play A Major Scale Your Free Lesson

Now, on the E string place your index and 2nd finger in the first and second space. Pluck the string. Place all four fingers in their respective spaces and press down and pluck the string. Now, place your index finger in the first space of the next string, the A string, press down and pluck the string. On the same string place your index finger in the first space and your second finger in the second space and press both fingers down and pluck the string. Now on the A string place all four fingers in each of the spaces and press down and pluck the string. Now on the next string, the D string, place your first finger in the the first space and press down and pluck the string. On the same string place your first 3 fingers in their respective spaces and press down and pluck the string. And lastly, on the same string, place all four fingers in their respective spaces and press down and pluck the string.

Believe it or not, you have played your first scale! You've also learned a fingering pattern that can be used to play a scale in any major key. The scale you've just played is F# Major. The fingering pattern is 2, 4, on the first string 1, 2,4 on the 2nd string and 1, 3, 4 on the third string. You can place your 2nd finger anywhere on the E string or A string and play that finger pattern and the tones of a Major scale will grace your ears. The only thing missing is a visual illustration.

So, what have you accomplished? You've learned that the spaces between each fret on the fingerboard is a half step or half tone. By placing your finger in the next higher space you would get a tone one half tone higher and by placing a finger on the next space lower you would get a tone one half tone lower. You've learned what a chromatic is. You've learned how to play a scale in one octave. You've accomplished a lot today.

Next, I explain how to play the three different minor scales, natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor. Much like playing major scales, there is a fingering pattern that will simplify playing minor scales. Until next time!


Street Talk

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