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How to Practice Arpeggios on the Bass (L#12-13-14)

This important lesson shows you how to learn and use arpeggios on the bass, by applying my 'linear harmony concept' and, most importantly, shows how this concept can actually be applied to other areas of music!

Ok, we've all been told it's imperative for us to practice our arpeggios and scales on the bass, but what you might not have been told is that what's incredibly important how you practice them. Running arpeggios up and down the neck is fine, but just doing this will not really have any great effect on your playing.

By practicing them using my 'continuous arpeggio exercises' (explained in the following video tutorials), you will find that chord tones really unlock the mysteries of the fretboard. You'll actually start 'seeing' the chord tones all over the neck which in-turn will stop you having to jump around the fingerboard unnecessarily as you will have whatever harmony you need under your fingers wherever you are on the neck.

As well as transforming the way you 'see' harmony on the neck these exercises are also an amazing ear training tool as well! By applying these exercises to your regular practice time you will start hearing the arpeggios in all there different inversions which in turn will help the development your ear.

These exercises are hard and it will take a lot of practice... but it really will transform your bass playing and your understanding of harmony. Work them into your daily practice routine and you will start to see the benefits. Good luck in the shed! S.

Full tab/notation & workbook available to Academy members »

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Want the tab and notation for this lesson?
  • Stuart

    Excellent tutorial as usual Scotty, the notes,fingerings and ideas are inspirational. Great stuff.

  • L

    So is the idea of the lesson to learn and execute the arpeggio shapes depending on which finger the root note falls on?

    I hope that’s right

    • scott

      Yeah, basically there are at least three patterns for every arpeggio. Learn them all and you’ll start to ‘see’ the shapes all over the neck. Easy man, S.

  • These videos have helped me more than anything else i have done. i struggle with theory and have a few set patterns i revolved around however this is enourmous. I am takin gone video at a time and even these few patterns areenough to keep me occupied for a month.

    and amazingly enough new shapes are revealing themselves and as a result of this clarity my speed has increased fluidly..thanks a lot for these :) mucho gracias

    • scott

      Glad to help matey! Spread the word! S.

  • Among

    Excellent. very motivational and extremely useful for me.

  • Maoper

    I have been a mediocre bassist at my very best for around 10 yrs or so and I found your site and videos around 2 weeks ago and it has really blown my musically challenged mind. I really appreciate what you have done here and I am improving like crazy with this fresh look and approach to the bass.

    Thanks Man!

    • scott

      Hey thanks for checking the site out man! S

  • Hi Scott

    “How should I practice scales and arpeggios” is a question which has been driving me mad for about a decade, believe it or not! I’ve tried many times to get my teeth stuck into it, but since I have no idea when it’s time to move on (i.e when enough is enough), I tend to get bored and give up altogether. Your vids are brilliant! Only one question, really – is there a really good reason why the second minor 7 “shape” should begin on the middle finger? My pinky is real short compared to my other fingers, so the ring finger feels much more natural.

    Thanks again for an amazing contribution to bass education, amigo. Wishing you all the best with the glove-therapy :)

    • scott

      John… glad to be of service! The minor 7th shape starting on the second finger… if it feels better using the third finger… do it lol! Peoples bodies are made differently. Thanks again for checking my stuff out! S ;)

  • Bruce

    Hi Scott,
    I see you in these tutorials using five string basses with BEADG orEADGC string configurations. Which would you recommend in general?

    • scott

      Hey Bruce, I’m using EADGC but in all honesty I wouldn’t recommend one over an other. I suppose it just depends what your after… EADGC is great for chordal stuff and gives you a little more higher range whereas BEADG is great for pop, gospel type stuff where it’s good to have a little more low end. Hey… 6 string does both! Maybe that’s what i’ll get next, although I do like have a limited amount of note choices… makes me feel like i’m having to be a little bit more creative with what i’ve got. That’s why I really love playing 4 strings too. Over and out. S

  • Jerry

    Love the video Scott, it has has helped a lot, but i have a question. In the video you included the C for the dminor arpeggio… so is there no difference b/w the minor and the minor 7th? or is it a kind of a more advanced skill building thing because you’d be more like likely to use the 7th in soloing rather than not? and does the same apply with the major?

    • scott

      Yeah… in most cases you can get away with using a 7th on a minor chord. On a major chord you’ve gotta treat it with a little more care. Sometimes it sounds great when you put a major 7th on a straight major chord but sometimes in sounds a little weird and out of context. In jazz or extended harmonic type music it would usually sound cool (you’ve just got to trust your instincts – if it sounds like crap, don’t do it again lol!). In pop, rock, country etc a little more care is needed – but hey… just try it and see what fits! Easy man. S

  • Martin Hammond

    Hey Scott!

    Great videos! I notice you have quite big hands, which is great for the one finger per fret technique in the first position, but what about someone like me who has girly hands!? Do you recommend using double bass technique with the left hand in the first position? Some of those stretches are pretty awkward and still require me to move my hand, and on a fretless it makes intonation even more of an issue than normal!

    • scott

      Hey Martin… yeah definitely try out the double bass technique, I know a few guys who use it really well so it’s definitely worth looking at. Thanks for checking out the tut’s man! S

      • Kateri

        Hi Scott – do you have any tutorials on this double bass technique that Martin speaks of? I have girly hands too, which is very appropriate as I’m a 5’2″ woman (who loooooves to play bass). I need all the tips and tricks I can get to compensate for my small hands. Thanks!

  • Gil

    It’s a huge pleasure to reveal your vids one at a time and getting to know them slowly.
    You’re doing a fantastic job here. Really helps and makes me wanna practice every chance I’ve got.

  • Hey Scott,
    I hate studying but discovering your website has inspired me. I love the way you use tab in your PDF downloads, haven’t read music in 17 years, never needed too, never wanted too but for the first I’ve wanted too. Love your method of teaching, you make bass playing sound interesting (which it is!) coz most of the other online teachers make bass playing so boring (so stereotypical). Keep up the good work. Your the best man!

  • lesiba

    hi scott,..

    i am self taught bassist and i have been playing for about eight years and always been looking for a teacher and every time i got one,instead of teaching me they would using all my ways or grooves for their albums and then i would never see them again instead hear all my music everywhere done by them,now i got you and i can see,;;i was blind and now i see,..amazing scott,;how great thou art..and i nowi can play 4/4,..i always played odd,..7,9,11,15,17,etc,..

  • Philippe

    Hello Scott,

    thanks a lot for these very inspiring videos! I have started studying the proposed II-V-I progression, but found it difficult to find _any_ closest arpeggio note on the chord changes, so I added a few levels of complexity: First try to find the closest root note and play up/down from there, then try to find the closest root or fifth and so on. This makes it a lot easier for me to get into this kind of playing that I have never approached, despite being a bass player for over 10 years (mainly metal/hardcore stuff though).

    I´ll definitely hang out at your page more often, keep up your work and groove on!

  • Alvin

    yo can someone answer me what is the difference between major and minor arpeggio

  • nedzad

    nice ending of video, I like it very :)

  • Craig

    Sure you probably know this but these are fantastic lessons and tips for 6 string guitar and other stringed instruments. I came to your website to improve my understanding of the role of the rhythm section in a band setting and started looking around. I’ve since found dozens of useful practice tips and exercises for my own 6 string guitar training. Heck I may convert to bass at the rate I’m going!

  • Eric

    Hey Scott. Great lesson, as usual.

    Question about practicing scales arpeggios: The amount of available arpeggios/scales is daunting. How do you approach practicing these exercises? Do you focus on one scale in multiple keys or do you try and do multiple scales/arpeggios at once in a practice session? Or is there another way that can tackle both effectively?

    Keep up the amazing work. You’re making practicing a hell of a lot less scary for everyone!

  • paul

    Hi Scot
    Still on with these lessons, great. but I sound, dont really know how to describe this, but if i was speaking it would sound all in one tone, and boring, and I feel my playin is like this. Is there a lesson on this site that deals with this, or is there one to buy, Ive already got jazz begingings, and major ii,v,i. Cheers

  • paul

    Hi, dont reply to my last message, i found it, dynamics!!


  • Tayra

    Hey Scott, I’m new to your website and first wanted to say thanks so much. I can’t believe that you do all of this let alone for free! You must spend a lot of time on the videos and it’s definitely appreciated! But, I was trying to watch the videos for how to practice arpeggios, but none of the videos are coming up. I was able to download the worksheet but that’s about it! Any magic trick? Thanks again!

    • scott

      Hey Tayra great to hear you’re diggin’ the lessons! I think it could have been a temporary issue with the videos. try using a different browser too as sometimes that can be an issue. Scott ;)

  • Tayra

    Still not working, maybe you are still fixing it, but it just comes up as part 1, big blank, part 2 blank…

  • Corne

    Hey Scott, I like your site! I just started practicing arpeggios and I have a question: when you play arpeggios, is it important to keep track of the exact note of the chord you are playing? (so the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc.)

  • Aidan

    You are just so helpful. None of the lessons I saw from youtube taught me or explained me this theory and concepts. I learned why arpeggios and scales are so important in soloing now. knowing arpeggios for given chords helps me to connect all the chords using scales. I did not know this concept before.
    I bought two of your packages.. they’re just so incredibly helpful.. thanks

  • Frank

    Hi Scott, and other bass musician’s :)

    I’ve been on this site for a couple of months, and it really helps me a lot (I’m still on the beginner level). I’m danish and have some trouble understanding every thing, but anyway, the lessons has helped me. Thanks for the time your spending on these lessons :)

  • bob battiste

    hey scott, i play a 5 string bass as it gives me more flexability, but i noticed you tune your 5 eith a top e string where i tune mine with a top B ,, which way is more productive? i like being able to hit some real low notes. what are the plus and minus’s?

    • scott

      Hey Bob – I have my 5 string strung e,a,d,g,c. It just means I can play more chordal type stuff. But – I love low b too! Neither is better, just different. Scott ;)

      • Gary

        Scott, What gauge of strings are using for this tuning? I just broke a D string trying to get there. Thanks

  • Rakhesh

    Hi Scott,

    You’ve single-handedly resurrected my passion for bass! I note you talk about arpeggios a lot and mention dominant and diminished arpeggios but is there a lesson where you introduce people to them? I’m still watching Part I of this video but my computer is playing up and I can’t seem to get through all the parts at the moment!

  • Dil

    Question: Let’s say it’s a more basic chord progression, without the 7ths. Would this arpeggios still work even if the lead isn’t playing the 7th notes?

  • Scott

    Sorry about that. Found them on you tube. Just getting familiar with your site.


  • Gilles

    Hi Scott
    In the G7 arpegio, you play an F, i thought the seventh was F sharp.
    So what is this F ?
    Great great job you do.
    Love it.

    • Gilles

      just found out what a brain can do when used properly……
      So don’t take any notice of the question above.
      Gilles :-)

  • rod

    i just saw your how to practice arpeggios and im wondering why it wasnt in bass tab Rod

  • Dropkick Dave Walters

    Hi Scott…Regarding Pt 1 of the Arpeggio exercises…is there a specific reason to start on the 2nd finger instead of the 3rd…the 3rd finger seems to fall under my fingers more naturally

  • Mark

    Hi Scott,

    New to the community. Love the content so far, but you’re killing my rhythm by showing all of the arpeggios on a 5 string with a high C. I have a 5 string, but with a low B. I’d imagine the number of people with a 5 strings with high C is pretty darn small. Makes it really difficult to flow along with you when I run out of strings! If you could focus more on a basic 4 string setup (even for those of us with a low B), it would make it much easier to follow along with the lesson.


    • Lee_Kirkpatrick

      Those of us with only 4 strings have the same “problem.” However, I actually see it as a plus rather than minus, because it forces me to figure out on my own how to apply the principles behind the lesson to my particular bass rather than simply trying to replicate exactly what he is playing.

      • Mark

        Heh, I’m an old dog trying to learn new tricks. I’m not exactly hunting for additional challenges!

        • Lee_Kirkpatrick

          As one old dog to another, I assure you that my goal is not to make anything more challenging just for the sake of making it more challenging. But personally, I find it much more fun and interesting to try to use the basic principles to figure things out on my own than to try to learn Scott’s particular fingering of this one particular chord progression in this one particular key. I feel sure that I am absorbing the ideas more effectively, and making faster progress toward incorporating these ideas and techniques into my own playing, this way — all of which makes it more rewarding as well.

          In fact, I’ll admit that I’ve actually spent very little time practicing the arpeggios for the Dm7-G7-Cmaj7 progression that Scott uses in the lesson. I don’t play jazz (and don’t aspire to), and in the kinds of music I play the ii-V-I progression is not nearly as common as it is in the jazz “standards.” So, instead of practicing that, I like to create my own exercises and figure out how to apply the same principles to chord progressions and keys that are more familiar and directly useful to me.

  • Kevin Lane

    These are the lessons I’ve been needing! I’ve only watched Pt 1 but after that I was able to spend 15 mins grooving on Dm over almost the entire neck! YES! After 14 years of playing (learning songs by sheer might of will and then playing them with bands) I can improvise over just about the whole neck!

    I’ve got a TON more to learn. I have to figure out how to do this over a progression but that 10 minute video has unlocked what 14 years of playing hasn’t been able to.


  • Kevin Lane

    All three videos are the same video? :(

  • Marie Bouyeure

    Hi Scott,
    I just had a brilliant idea… LOL No seriously, sometimes it is hard to see how you place your left hand fingers. Here’s my idea… : If you put for coloured marks, one colour for each on the top of your fingers (where your nails would be for example), it would be very easy to see which finger is where.
    And I just love your lessons, very much to the point, you know where you want us to go, and just doing the lessons really brings quick results. So thank you, Scott!