FREE TRIAL OFFER! Try the SBL Academy for 14 days, FREE of charge! Limited time offer. Click here

Online Bass Lessons

Bass Awesomeness...

Get my very best lessons delivered to your inbox

Using Simple Shapes on the bass #2 (L#71)

The 'sexy' notes...

First of all, I wanted to say a big thanks to all of you who left such nice comments and spread the word regarding the first part of this bass lesson about using simple shapes. That means a lot to me --and is a real boost when "the going is hard" because I've got sooo much to do! ;)

Next, I want to make it clear that I'm in no way suggesting that you shouldn't be thinking notes or intervals! What I'm saying is that it's often simply not possible --if useful to do it all the time while you're playing, and that learning to assign simple shapes to those notes comes in very handy.

In the previous lesson, you've noticed that starting from our little 4-note "boxes" and then putting them all together, we end up with a full Em pentatonic scale. So we are learning our bass scales, only in a slightly different way, that many of my bass students find easier. Less "academic", hence less scary… ;)

The other big plus I see in this approach is that it enables us to realise how much we can do with just four notes, before we expand on that.

That being said, in this second part of the lesson, I'm introducing those little 'sexy' notes that have a special 'flavour' to them and sound really good when used properly. Find out what makes you tick! ;)

Full tab/notation & workbook available to Academy members »

Want the tab and notation for this lesson?
  • Oliver

    Hi Scott,

    what could i say…Thanks a lot:-)

    wish you well


  • Jahmar S.

    Thank you. You are providing an invaluable service to countless people.

  • Trevor Buchanan

    Hi Scott, I’ve been playing bass for over 42 years, and i have to say i luv you”boxes” its a great way to learn and develop your bass skills, luv it. Good job mate.

  • JohnV

    Hey Scott, Sorry but I have a real thicker than thick question as always. How would I use this in a band context? Do I play this type of box over every chord shape that comes my way (obviously adjusting fingerboard position for the right notes), or does it apply for whole numbers.

  • Ben

    You’re a funny guy Scott. Thanks for another great lesson, really diggin’ the way you are putting these across – but I’ve gotta ask, what’s with the glove?


  • Tyler

    I’m very much a beginner and I’m progressing pretty slowly. Sometimes that gets frustrating and/or boring. However, every time I watch one of your videos, your enthusiasm and ability to distill things down makes me want to pick up my bass and keep playing. Plus, you make it look so easy, I think “well I can do that”(of course I can’t w/o a ton of practice…).
    Thanks and keep up the good work!
    BTW, am I hearing a bit more fretbuzz on this one?

  • Chris

    great as always, revommended indeed

  • Anders

    Good stuff man! These are the kind of things you ought to look through on a regular basis. It’s so easy to forget that back to basic stuff mixed with some theory multiplies everything, mileage, feel and confidence. Thanks a lot!!


  • Tom


    Very nice progression and approach. What I like about this is that reminds us that we (bassists) are musicians and we can make music through combining notes, timing and tempo. Excellent delivery my friend.

  • Papa John

    Hey Scotty, I really liked the series on boxes. a very clever new spin on Pentatonics.However, free 22 minute lessons leads me to question your sanity.

  • rami gabay

    Very good lesson I very much enjoyed your lessons You are a great teacher and a great player A winning combination.

  • Jim Radley

    Awesome awesome. Totally enjoyed this one.

  • andy johnstone

    great stuff again mate “we need T shirts with logo SDBL”

  • David Fletcher

    These lessons are great :)

    For me they always raise questions?

    Unfortunately I always end up lost!

    I have a big problem when I can’t make the notes fit within a key. I’m sat here watching and my thought process is as follows:

    Key = Em / Related Major Key = Gmaj

    I can understand the F# but the Bb has me stumped? Okay so its the blue note but I can’t make it compute?


  • Paul Tyzack

    Absolutely brilliant, as before :-)

  • Clifton Jackson

    Greetings Scott,
    Thanks for the Second part of this lesson!! Your explanation of what the Sexy Notes were, is a Real help here! Keep up the Super work! It is Helping us! I can Feel it!

  • Very good tutorial! You rock man!
    Very talented teacher you are as well my friend. Sorry to sound like Yoda!
    Keep up the excellent work!

  • vespucci

    Hi Scott,

    First of all, I want to say thank you for all these lessons. They are very helpful and fun!!!

    Most of the time I learn scales and other stuffs by memorising shapes and that why I am having the problem I will explain below.

    I have learned recently the 7 modes and appergios related to them. However I am not understanding why we need to lean them.
    The thing is that each mode contains the same notes. For example if we take the first mode of C (ionian), it contains : C(I), D(II), E(III), F(IV), G(V), A(VI), B(VII) and for the 5th mode of C (mixoludian) it contains the same notes : G(I) A(II) B(III) C(IV) D(V) E(VI) F(VI). I understand that each note have a different role in the related scale but how can I use that to make a bassline or impoving my soloing section.

    Thanks in advance for your answer.

    (Engish is not my mother tongue, so if you can’t understand please tell me and I will try to do it another way)

  • Matt


    Very, very well done!

    We are all blessed to have you and your teachings.

    Thank you!


  • Always amazing, Scott!

    We’ve never met, and perhaps never will, but I tell everyone that you’re my bass teacher… because you are!

    Thank you so much!


  • Dave

    Hey Scott,
    Another simple but extremely effective lesson.
    Many thanks

  • helvego

    hello broda scott , im from indonesia , and i just wanna say thnx a lot for your bass lessons
    i think this is expensive to learn it in my country, but i get more experience here …

    so thnx to you , n God blees U always :D

  • Hey Scott, thank you so much for all those little inspirations that help us to develop a sound technique and feel for music! I am always longing for your next post!
    Cheers, Steph

  • Tino

    Gracias Scott por servirme de guía e inspiración. Saludos desde Canarias

  • DATU

    your an inspiration bro.. your good karma will bring tons of goodies!!

  • Great as always, HIGHLY recommended!
    Great bassist, great teacher!

    Thanks Scott..


  • greg

    wow,opened my eyes, thanks

  • Flavio

    This was one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from you. I often play using these ‘shapes’, but now I realized how important it is to actually know what notes I’m using in relation to the chord. Thank you!

  • Stelios

    Hello from greece,
    nice simple lessons.
    thanx, good job

  • peter

    Hi Scott

    this is really great stuff. When I play Blues riffs on the guitar I was always thinking in shapes as well. So this lessons confirm my own intuitive approach.
    And of course your other more “heavy” jazzy stuff is kind of mindboggling to me. I alway refused to learn the more academic stuff. It scares me to think “I will never be able to learn that.”
    Anyway I’ll try. Thanks.

    Peter, Zurich, Switzerland

  • wilson

    thanks scott thankyou so much ^^ your the best teacher ever

  • Scott,

    I really appreciate your teaching style so that theory isn’t so scary and is learned without one knowing it. My question is what shapes do you use for a major chord?

    • scott

      Hey man… there’s some lessons on chords coming soon so keep your eyes peeled ;)))

  • Jazzflex

    Oh my goodness! What a great lesson for me. It open up so much for me. Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us…we do appreciate you

  • Ingwar

    HI. What program you’re using on your computer? You are awersome!!!

    • scott

      Pro tools man ;)

  • Shas-O

    hi Scott

    Lessons are great however I do find your left hand fingering a bit too subtle to follow some times.
    It would make it a bit easier if you played less subtle a few times through a riff so that it could be followed more easily.



    P.S. Maybe I should just go find my glasses :)

  • Patrick

    Hi Scott – really good lesson again but having played around with this for a little while I’ve realised that by adding in the 9th and the 13th of the Em scale you end up playing the Dmaj scale …. what’s going on there? Have I taken a wrong turn somewhere?
    All the best.

  • Iurii

    thank you Scott! These lessons – a real find for me! With great pleasure to do thanks to your video! God bless you!

  • Lynch1

    A great older lesson that I wanted to see again and practice over. oddly I was stopped in the middle and had to put my e mail address in again to finish it. Still a few bugs, but fun.

  • SirroKlop

    I’ve checked out a couple vids in passing on YouTube. I enjoyed and applied them. I just subscribed today. Can’t wait to learn more. Thank you for your concern and musicianship.

  • Great lesson! As one who was taught and spent way too much time starting everything with the root (anchored by my third finger) i kinda saw this whole lesson as: how to riff by starting on the dom7

  • Raul Hernandez

    Scott, thanks for your great work and sharing with us

  • Ron C

    That was a really great lesson!

  • Tom Lilienthal

    Scott, great lesson for beginners and intermediate players! Well done, mi amigo!

  • A rural Medic

    I love these 2 lessons. I just wish there was a shape for the Major stuff. Awesome though.. Keep it up.

  • Is that a short scale?

  • myfullcents

    How does this apply to all the other “chords?” I guess I am being dense.