Major Scale Improvisation Exercise #1 (L#77)

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Click below to download the backing track for this lesson
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In this bass soloing lesson I’m going to show you an exercise that’s not only going to radically improve your soloing facility on the bass, but it’s also going to improve your phrasing and overall musicianship too!

It’s one of the best exercises I ever give to my personal students so I know you’re going to get some great tips within this tutorial that you’ll be able to implement within your playing straight away!

Now grab your bass… and get in the shed!

Want the tab and notation for this lesson?
  • Pat

    Thanks for this awesome lesson.
    I’ve been playing bass for a year, taking up courses for 3 months with a great teacher and I’m just learning to solo on a scale.
    Your lessons are really awesome and much useful to me.

    As usual I’m looking forward to your next newsletter email :-)


  • santiago

    Thanks for another great lesson,Scott.Your tips are a new, fresh and attractive approach to music. Greetings from Tucumán, Argentina.

  • Steve Rogers

    Although I am probably twice your age, I only wish I’d had a teacher like you when I was half yours! It’s never too late! I am enjoying learning and playing more than ever because of your teaching and inspiration. Thank you again!

    • Richard

      +1 on Steve’s comment. I’m in exactly the same position, just about.

      Many thanks, Scott!


  • Tom

    Thank You, Scott, for great cool leson! regards from Czech rep.!

  • John

    SOLID! Thanks Scott!

  • Raul Perez you admiror number #1

    this lessons of major scale improvisation is awesome it seems like some “molds” that i learned for guitar are those the same ones? because i saw it changed a little bit but not to much so the question is, does the bass has its own scales and shapes? if it does what will be the best book or resource to get those? last but not least i love the way you play chord on the bass but i have no idea where to get those from!!! and i am frustrated!!! so do you have a video where you speak only about f how to play chord??? because i have been browsing your videos and i couldn’t find anything with just chord and the one that you play i can not find a way to play it you do it to fast o maybe is because i am to slow but i can get the position :( please help!!!! before i got more crazy than already am LOL i would like to mention that i bought some of you backing tracks and are awesome but i still feel like a Dog trying to drink water out of a fire fighter hose at its maximum power can you picture that LOL great lessons God bless you more and more and more

  • Karen

    Well Done Scott!

    Thank you for this tutorial. I have a feeling I will be practicing this one for a while!

  • James winter

    Thanks scott! Another great lesson!

  • Paul

    Thanks Scott :-)

  • Dan Bertolucci

    Scott– Look forward to your presentations. Very helpful. Could you tell me where I can go to obtain/download songs by artists or genre with tabs so that I could learn bass part and play along with the recordings?

    • Myles is pretty nifty- so I’ve heard – have only looked at it fairly briefly myself – was recommended by a friend.

  • Greg

    Hey Scott, great lesson. What you may want to also mention (or maybe this is for the next lesson) is that these first, second, and little finger positions are not only next to each other but also on top of each other. Which is a great way to cover the entire neck (across) in a short period of time without having to move your hand position (thumb anchor).

    • scott

      Great idea Greg! Thanks for watching man! Scott

  • Valentine

    Good work Men….

  • Jan

    Thank you very much Scott for your latest lesson. After few minutes watching your video, I finally understood meaning of pattern connections. I’m sure it will open new doors for nice melodies.
    Jan from belgium

  • Terry P.

    Awesome job Scott! I agree totally with Steve Rogers’ comment.

  • Tom Lilienthal

    Hey Scott, yet another great, on point bass lesson. I’ve gotten so much out of your lessons and still have only scratched the surface, given that I’ve only seen a fraction of the lessons that you are offering. Many thanks for your great tutorials! Your adding of the backing track is also a real bonus!

    All the best,
    Tom from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

  • Cheryl Muradas

    nice….it’s all coming together, thanks to you. really enjoyed this lesson and can’t wait to “get in the shed” and practice…. thx

  • pablo

    Thank you very much for all this information!! I really aprecciatte it. Pablo

  • Arnold

    Hi Scott,

    Your lessons are the best I’ve seen online. It’s really helped my bass playing and more importantly music in general. I really enjoy your videos and look forward to learning more. Do you have any lessons on how to build or play chords on the bass?


  • James

    Scott, this is another AWESOME video, THANKS.

  • Dave

    Hiya Scott,another great lesson!!
    Bril way of practicing the major all over the board.
    Thanks again.

  • Joe

    Scott- Who Da Man? You Da Man!
    Thanks for making it so simple! I used to get lost on the board but this video is the map that I needed!
    All you need is someone to show you the REAL basics instead of trying to recreate the wheel on your own!
    Thanks Again!

  • Ali

    Scott, you are an angel. After several years, I finally ‘get’ scales. Phew.

  • Lee R. McStein

    Scott – as ever you’ve blown me away with another lesson!

    I’m in awe – I thought I’d understood major scale work until I saw this. Honestly, everything you do is an inspiration and I can only hope that one day I have even a facet of your skill and effortless ability!

    As a Lancashire lad (originally from Leigh), I usually find it difficult to compliment a Yorkshireman, but in your case, I’ll more than make the exception!

    Signing off with bass in hand,


  • Fionn

    have moved on a ton and doubled the time I spend practising because I really want to get the most out of all of these excellent lessons, nice one Scott

    Fionn from San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico

  • Pingback: Major Scale Improvisation Exercise #1

  • Vinko

    Hi Scott,

    this is very useful eye opening lesson, things are connecting together! Thank you sir. Much appreciated!



  • Nuno

    Hi Scott. Love yor lessons. I’m a double bass player. Please tell me if the same exercise can be used for double bass.

    • scott

      Yeah Nuno definitely – although you’d have to use different fingering. Thanks for watching man! Scott ;)

  • Steve

    Cheers Scott. Another great lesson.
    Being able to move the ‘shapes’ around the fretboard. Is that a blessing or a curse?! You did say that we do need to think about the notes. Obviously not every one we play but the imporant ones at the time (chord tones etc.) I guess, as with a lot of different approaches to learning music, it’s a bit of everything.
    p.s. I’ll be making a contribution to the site later. Worth every penny.

    • scott

      Hey Steve, I tend to think of root notes and intervals… so if I was improvising over a C major chord I’d be thinking C, 3rd, 5th, 7th – not C, E, G, B. Hope that makes sense man. Thanks for watching! Scott

  • andrew

    always get some little gems from your lesson ,s learnt so much , keep on with them as i always say you can only keep what you got by giving it away.

  • alexandros ,the greek ,ha ha ha

    thnk u so much keep helping me ,another great lesson .appreciated

  • Paul

    Well, unless there is something I truly don’t understand about this lesson, the second finger position starting on the first finger, and playing whole note positions is completely impossible for me, without significant pain in my forearm….even playing the C from the 8th fret

    Either my hands are extremely small, or my bass is massive….. :-(

    • Lee K

      I have assiduously avoided using this fingering ever since I first picked up a bass because it is so physically difficult. But after watching this lesson I’ve been working on it a lot, and I’m finding it immensely helpful for (what I understand to be) the main purpose of the lesson, which is about learning to “see” the fretboard. I still can’t play this fingering with anywhere near the speed or fluidity of the other fingerings, but working on it is really helping to me fill in a big blind spot in my fretboard knowledge.

  • http://Home Ladrick

    Hey Scott! All i can say is, you are just amazing

  • Michael

    I have listened to many different people try to instruct folks about music and bass guitar. I almost gave up trying to learn at all. I found your site and now I feel like I have a chance. Thank you, you are a true teacher.

  • Eugene

    Dankie my ma se kind!!! Great lesson.

  • Keitho

    Hi Scott
    Great Bass lesson. I am a mature bassist, I thought that I was on my own by playing to patterns, I have always played this way, I thought that playing this way was a bad way of playing an instrument, but i works for me.
    The down side of this way of playing is that it does make you idle with respect of remembering the notes, I need to remember to call out the notes from time to time to help me remember them

  • Alukard

    This lesson send from heaven…
    …i’d reached my personal bottom and had to get past it.
    and this lesson helps me with that!!!

    THX a lot Scott !!!

  • Cheryl Muradas

    OMGosh….I used the backing track you provided and made a song with the bass. Always thought bass kind of just held the rhythm but one can really get creative with it in and around and back on the beat..thank you thank you thank you. I am going to “load” up with your packages!!!

  • Tino

    Gracias Scott

  • Jorge Avelar Dunham

    Hi Scott,

    Many thanks for providing so many tutorials and videos to our learning.
    You are a fantastic musician who knows share your knowledge with beginners.
    I live in Brazil and am diligently watching their classes.
    At the moment I am not able to donate, I hope to do it when the situation improves.
    Anyway I feel compelled to thank you for everything you are doing for students of bass worldwide.
    God bless you.


  • Ray

    Another great lesson, I need a teacher like you…

  • Nick

    Hi Scott

    Great lesson.

    With respect to covering the entire fingerboard from bottom to top using this approach, is the best approach to use fragments of the patterns to connect up the positions anchoring c at the third fret on the a string, c at the eight fret on the e string and at the thirteenth fret on the a string?

    Also, how would you recommend extending this approach into aeolian minor across the board? Use the same shapes but think of the shapes starting on the minor root e.g. Use the c major shapes but think of the root on a?

    All extremely interesting. And to echo another comment, this is the first time I have understood the willis idea of connecting up fretboard shapes!

    Thanks, nick

  • Chan Hing Cheong

    Really rhanks Scott ! Your lessons are really useful to me.

  • Chan Hing Cheong

    Thank you very much Scott.

  • Martin d

    Amazing i love this teacher,,, scott ur the man

  • Martin d

    Amazing i love this teacher,,, scott ur the man,,, i wch, all the music teachers would teach, like u

  • Toshi

    Thank you for really useful lesson for biginers. You always show us the Key of excercise. What does ” Get in the shed! ” mean, anyway?

  • Jeremy

    Brilliant! Thanks a ton!

  • Rob

    Hi Scott,

    My name is Rob and i’m from holland.
    First an excuse for my englisch because it’s not all that great.
    I hope you can understand what i’m trying to ask and explain.
    My problem is :
    I’m playing bass for a long time now but,
    I can’t read musical notes!
    Everything i play is by hear.
    So what my ears hear i can play with my hands.
    But your lessons are great !
    And playing bass and playing bass are two different things i’ve learnd for some time now.
    So i’m trying to follow the “theorie” of bass playing.
    How to play arpeggios and stuff .
    Now here is my real problem,
    I do not know how the arpeggios are build up and stuff.
    So i’m in a bad state of theorie.
    I’ve been trying to download some of the stuff from your website ,
    But those things are build up out of musical notes.
    And there is my problem again i can not read them .
    Is there an other way to learn those things?

    Thnxs for the time of reading my email.
    I hope you can help me out cause a lot of your things make sense while i’m listening to your tutorials.
    I’m going like”aaaaaahhh ok thats why i’m playing these like this.
    Cause i can hear them and i play them but in theorie i don’t even know what i’m doing.
    Again thnxs for your time.

    Greetz from Rob from holland

  • Rob Johnson

    Merry Christmas Scott and thanks for your insightfull lessons, I enjoy your approach and can relate to what you are

    Saying on the bass. Thanks for the inspiration

  • Shawn

    thanks man….. this brought so many things together for me.

  • Guy

    Awesome lesson Scott!! You are the man! Great way to use scales. Thank you.

  • Jean-Louis Bousquet

    Merci de partager , c’est très généreux de votre part.

    Jean-Louis , Québec , Canada

  • Andt

    I have been playing for about 8 years. I’m pretty good at playing anything, except jazz, but I’ve kinda been in that rut where you just get comfortable and never progress. I’ve learned scales, but never learned how to use them. Watching your videos has finally begun to open my playing and mind up to where it should be. Thank you soooooo much! Can’t wait to start on the jazz lessons!

  • Ralph Berry

    Thank you so much Scott, this is exactly what I have neeed for so long. trying to take my playing to a higher level but have be unable to afford private lessons. You are a god send! you lessons on scales in where I need to start. the onle lesson I’ve ever had taught me the second finger major scale and thats the extent of what I know. I’m sure I’ll get alot of milage from your website. Thank you again.

  • Dan

    I’m amazed, thank you!

  • Joe Lemoine

    Thanks Scott, love the lesson and also the sound track!

  • Craig

    Great Scott!! I’ve been playing for ages, and have the entire fingerboard well mapped, but never have used the second position because of the stretching involved (although I used to play double bass which is quite a similar stretch and fingering!). One thing though–I like to play in the dark and visualize the fingerboard in my mind. I find I have to make a conscious effort not to look down.
    FYI I’ve never given lessons, and have recently hatched a plan to give lessons to beginners and use the money to support the Barry Penny Foundation which gives lessons and instruments to kids who can’t afford them. Thanks for the great instruction and tool! I’ll be pointing people here and supporting your site as well.
    Noticed your Salford pully. I spent some time in Manchester.

  • Herbert Brown

    Thanks so much for the lesson. This has helped to open my approach to the bass. Thanks for changing my way of thinking!

    Peace, bro.


  • Sander

    Hey Scott!
    thanks for the top-notch lesson. helped me improve my soloing a lot!
    however, when I try to open the files you offered for downloading, my pc says the files are damaged, so I can’t use them :s
    is it possible that you can fix the files?

    kind regards,
    Sander from the Netherland

    • scott

      Hey Sander – it could be your browser because they’re working at my end. Maybe try downloading with firefox/chrome/safari as I know they work. Ez man, Scott ;)

  • Tayra

    Ohhh I just noticed your answer above, sorry for the repeat question! But I also have no idea what that means! I’m computer illiterate!

  • Tayra

    Ok, sorry for all the posts but I’m really trying to figure this out because I can never download anything from this site! So, I’m using an iPad and I’ve tried chrome and adobe reader and they don’t work, and I don’t think I can download Firefox. All it says is that safari can’t download this file, and chrome says it is an unknown file. Is there another app for this? Thanks to anyone who can help, I hate computers!

    • scott

      Hey Tayra… yeah – it’s because they’re zip files. You need to install an app on your ipad that lets you open zip files. There’s a few free ones so just do search on the big G. ;)

  • Tayra

    Yayyy! It finally worked! Thanks for helping…..darn ipad, needing all these silly apps just to work :)

  • serge

    scotts great lessons..thanks for ur time

  • Renato

    Thanks for the lesson! I really aprecciate your tips! You try to put your students in the next level… hugs Renato

  • Gustavo

    I have been playing double bass for several years and have taken the bass guitar, just to keep the fingers busy once in a while….after this lesson, I cannot drop it !!!
    I enjoy the improvisation so much..

    Thanks Scott

  • Hannes Weigel

    Great lesson :) It really enlightens my playing, but I wonder… Why do you wear gloves? :D

  • Meade

    great lesson!!! Thank you Scott!

  • Phil M.

    This lesson is awesome, it has transformed my playing. In two evening I can now comfortable play steadily all over the fret in major scale intervals and tunefully. I just need to fully lock it in, to become totally instinctive.

    What really made it click for me was I looked closer at your three positions and plotted them out on paper I realised that if you were able to just keep going across the fret there are three patterns that occur on each string that repeat in the same order. I don’t think you mention this, but sorry if you have. The patterns are 12 4, 12 4 (I call the “2 1s”, the root is on first 2), followed by 1 34, 1 34, (the “1 2s”, the root is on the first 4 ) finally 1 3 5, 1 3 5 , 1 3 5 (“The big 3″, the root is on the 2nd 1) then you are then back to the 2 1s again. Going up and down the fret effectively scrolls this pattern, so it just a case of quickly realising which line you are on in it. Another thing I’ve found is if you are on a 12 4 and quick slide up the fret when about to hit 1 you can switch up to 1 34. and of course do the reverse and similar with “the big 3″. Finally, switching in the root notes in on your three start positions means a key change is easy and immediate. Sorry if this makes no sense, you would have explained it much better and I will understand if you don’t post this bit, but it has certainly worked for me. When fully locked in I will work my way through the other scales to see if they each have a useful repeat pattern. Keep up the brilliant work Scott and I must get around to subscribing. And oh yes, I like your wedding photos with a difference on RBs web site.

    • bladibla12

      the tip is very good for the first position thanks Phil ! but 1 3 5 ? a 5th finger ? You probably mean the fifth fret ? pls confim

  • David P.

    Hello Scott ,I tried playing all 3 positions in different keys it’s brilliant ..helped me alot.

  • Lies

    Hi Scott

    Thanks for the great lesson!!

    Is it possible to add backingtracks for Dmajor, Emajor, Fmajor,… Otherwise I only learn the pattern for Cmajor


  • Alessio

    Scott, thanx sooo much for all the tricks you give to be a good player and to learn understanding what I am doing! Great!!! Ciao from Italy

  • Nic

    you are an ACE teacher..I paid a guy for lessons. he was a professional musician and teacher. I didn’t learn nearly as much stuff as I have since i discovered you. you make it make sense. !top!

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