Hey, how’re you doing? Scott here from Scott’s Bass Lessons again. Hope
you’re well. If you haven’t checked out Scott Bass Lessons yet make sure
you do so straight after this lesson because there’s loads of other videos
just like this and they’re all for free.
In this lesson I’m going to be talking about an exercise that I give to my
students that not only develops your soloing ability, but it also develops
your musicianship, your phrasing when you’re soloing, it really covers a
lot of the spectrums really broad.
It’s based on the major scale. Now the major scale. Now the major scale I’m
not sure if you know this, but the major scale is the most important scale
you need to learn. If fact, you don’t even need to learn it, you need to
absolutely ingrain it in your playing so you can play the damn thing in
your sleep. And not only in one position; you need to play in multiple
Why is it so important? Because pretty much 95%, if not more, of music that
you listen to is made from either the major scale or the different scales
contained within the major scale, and the chords that go along with them.
When I say you need to learn in different positions, what I’m talking about
is I’m sure many of you know this position. It just starts on the second
finger; that’s the C major scale. But what we need to do is we need to be
able to see that major scale over the entire fingerboard, and there’s a
trick to this. And the trick is to learn it in multiple fingering
positions, which I’m going to talk about in a minute. But the reason why I
want you to do this is because when I look at my fingerboard and I think
about a C major chord or a C major scale, I don’t just think . . . or . .
. When I think about a C major scale I see the entire scale over the
finger board, which sounds and looks something like this. I can see it over
the entire finger board.
And how I’ve done this is I learn each scale from three different
positions. Now remember we talked about the major scale, and because we’re
playing bass, or guitar, you might be a guitar player watching this, the
great thing about our instrument is once you’ve learned one position, the C
major scale for instance, it looks like that. If we want to play a G major
scale we just get that same position; the fingering stays exactly the same.
It’s always two, four, one, two, four, one, three, four. On a piano or a
sax it changes, so they have to think about the actual notes when they’re
playing. We can just think of patterns when we play.
Now I’m not saying that I’m not thinking about notes when I’m playing, but
I definitely think that when you’re learning the bass you really need to
start visualising the patterns on the finger board because it’s really
going to get you to the next level with your playing, giving you the
ability to see the actual scales and chords on the finger board.
So I’m going to show you these three positions first of all, and then I’m
going to show you, and this is the most important thing, how to make music
out of them. This is the hardest thing with scales, and it shouldn’t be.
I’m here to give you the exercise and say look, this is how you do it; it’s
as easy as this. A lot of people sit and they do scales and they see it
almost as something else other than making music; it’s just some sort of
like hoops that they need to jump through to become a good bass player, and
it’s not. You need to be able to utilise that scale and make music from it
and get that into your practice time and that’s what’s going to get you to
the next level.
So let’s talk about these three positions of the C major scale, or any
major scale, but we’re going to talk about it in the key of C. So the first
position as I showed you just then, starts with the second finger, and I’m
playing a finger per fret, okay. So I’ve got my second finger on the 8th
fret. Now this finger-per-fret technique is cool; when you get down here it
can be a bit of a stretch for some people. So be aware that sometimes down
here is a little bit of a stretch.
But let’s talk about around here right now. So we’ve got C major scales
down on the second finger. And I’m just going to call out the notes to
start with; then I’ll call out the fingering that I’m using for those
scales. So it’s C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, and the fingering is two, four,
one, two, four, one, three, four. And look how all the notes just fall
under the hand. And we can also keep going, C, and then D happens again, D,
E, and F. And that’s all within that one position there.
And we’ve got B down here. That B we can play that B because it’s one, two,
three, four, five, six, seven. It’s the major 7th within the C major scale,
we’re just taking it down an octave. So the full position there.
Now the next position I want you to learn starts on your first finger, so I
want you to put your first finger on the same C, on the E string, and I
want you to play C, D, E, all on the E string that is. Then we’re moving
down to the A string, F, G, A. And then the next string, B, and C, with the
first and second finger. Now this fingering here, I use fingers one, two,
and four, but some people use fingers one, three, and four. That just feels
weird to me, but you know, each to their own. Check out what you want to do
or what feels good for you; experiment and then make a decision and decide
on that and get into your playing. Don’t sort of swap between the two,
because it’ll just sound messy. So that position, one, two, four, one, two,
four, one, two . . . and then on the C here, and then we’ve got – see how
that position is down there on the second finger position, we’ve got it
here. So the full first position fingering for C major is, so there we’ve
got two fingerings already.
The second fingering position is starting on the second finger. The first
finger position starting on the first finger; and then the little finger
position, which is the last position, starts on the little finger, believe
it or not. So we’ve got the C on the E string, same C. Then we move down to
the next string and we play D, E, F, and I’m using fingers one, three, and
four. Then we move to the next string and we play G with the first finger,
A with the little finger because now I’m moving across. I’m gong in this
direction, so C, D, E, F, G, A with the little finger, then with the first
finger B, on the G string, and then C. And we can even play the D as well,
because that’s written in the C major scale. And we can play the B as well,
because B is in the major scale, and we can play A as well, because that’s
in the C major scale. So again just to recap. Second finger position. First
finger position. Little finger position.
Once you’ve memorised these positions I want you to try going up one, down
the other. Up one, down the other. And it just kind of cements the
positions within your hand and more importantly your view of the fret board
as well. When you’re playing these positions try and see the patterns on
the finger board, actually see them. Okay?
So I’m going to go down on the second one; I’ll call it out as I do it.
Down second finger position, into first position fingering, then up second
again, then down the little finger position, and up the second, up the
So there as I’m going back and forward between these positions I’m
constantly trying to visualise the position I’m going into; it’s all about
the visualisation of that pattern, being able to see the pattern as I’m
moving into it.
So if I’m playing within the second finger position, and I’m moving this
way, I’m trying to visualise that first finger position as I’m moving into
it. If I was playing a melody in the second finger position again, and I’m
moving this way, I’m trying to visualise that fourth finger position. I’m
always trying to visualise. Second finger position, first finger position,
little finger position, second finger position; I’m always trying to
visualise the pattern that I’m within and the pattern either side of it.
It’s really key to being able to see the harmony over the entire fret
But, how do we actually make music out of this? And this is the cool bit;
this is the really cool bit. What I want you to do is, I’ve got a backing
track; if you’re watching this on YouTube hit the link below this video.
It’ll take you to another page and then you can download the zip file which
has this backing track in straight under the video. So hit that link after
this video or now, and then watch the rest later.
Or if you’re watching this on my website, it’s right there underneath this
video. I want you to download it; all it is is a drum beat with a C major
chord held, and I want you to spend time within each position. Don’t kind
of razz around yet, okay? Don’t do that yet.
So the first thing I want you to do is spend time learning each position.
Spend time in each position. And the reason why we want to do this is we
want our ear to recognise where the roots, the thirds, the fifths, the
sound of them within that position. We want our ear to recognise that so we
can make melodies within that position. It’s not just about running up and
down scales; it’s about making music with these scales. So spend time in
So, first of all we’ll try the second finger position, okay? Let’s listen
to the backing track. The second finger position . . . and I’m not playing
too fast; it’s not about [makes noise], it’s about getting used to making
music within this position, what each note sounds like over that chord.
Don’t play too much, listen to it. What does that fifth sound like over the
C? And I’m listening to what I’m playing. I’m trying to almost think of the
melody before I play it. I’m just not firing into it hoping for the best;
I’m trying to hear what I’m playing.
We want to let the scale breathe. Okay? Let the scale breathe; my
handwriting is so bad. Let the scale breathe; that means don’t just run up
and down it. You want to make melodies out of it; let it breathe, play a
melody, listen to it, just go back and forth like that.
The second thing. Don’t play too much. Don’t play too much; again, play
small phrases, then listen to it, try and hear what you’re going to play
before you play it.
Now, so that was the second finger position, which was here. Now let’s try
the first finger position; first the position. Think about what you’re
playing; play long notes, short notes. Short, long, short.
Now the next position, little finger position. Just get used to that
position. Second finger, now let’s mix them up. All C major.
There you can see how I’m using this to make music, not just to play scales
up and down. The key thing is when you learn to make melodies from these
patterns that’s when you’ll start remembering the patterns. These patterns
are so hard to remember if they’re just ambiguous and there’s just nothing
linked to them, there’s no music linked to them. You’ve got to make sure
that there is music linked to every scale pattern you learn, whether it be
a major scale, a minor scale, a dominant scale. You’ve got to make sure
that there are melodies and music linked to the patterns that you’re
learning so not only you remember them, but your ear remembers them as
well. And that’s when you’ll really start ingraining this stuff in your
Something else to take into consideration, is kind of moving up and down
the fret board. Always try to be visualising the patterns before you move
into it; try and see it. Always look at the fingerboard when you’re
practising. Don’t be kind of practising, you know, with your head in the
air; make sure you look at the finger board, trying to visualise where
these patterns are is really going to make a difference. And with these
visualisation exercises, obviously if you’re looking at the fingerboard
it’s going to happen a lot faster than if you’re looking in the air, kind
of diddley dallying about. So look at the fingerboard and try and visualise
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this lesson. If you have, click that like button
below and then go over to Scott’s Bass Lessons and check out the rest of my
lessons. There is a lots of them for you, and they’re all free. Don’t
forget there’s a backing track right underneath the video on my website. If
you’re watching this on YouTube hit the link below and it’ll take you to
the page. Take it easy, and get in the shed.