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How to Practice Bass Scales (L#15-16)

In this new bass lesson, I'm showing you how to learn & use your bass scales, by applying my 'Linear Harmony Concept'. And, most importantly... how to apply them to create music!

Do you know your major scales? This is a question i was asked by one of my past tutors. I obviously said yes... and I really believed I did. He then proceeded to give me some major scale exercises that i'm afraid proved me otherwise!

Knowing your major scales and arpeggios in every part of the bass neck in all positions is invaluable and should be practiced daily. The exercises i have given you in the following video tutorials will really open up the geometry of the bass neck and if practiced alongside the arpeggio exercises you will truly start to 'see' the available harmony for any given chord sequence all over the bass. By practicing each different fingering of the major scale and then incorporating the continuous scale exercises you will also be practicing them modally as well.

Once you've started to get to grips with these exercises you can start to apply them to different scales. A great way to do this is by applying the exercises over a jazz standard. Begin with easier standards like 'Autumn Leaves' and then when ready progress through to pieces like 'Stella by Starlight'

Take your time and be patient, the continuous scale exercises are tough to start with! Remember, becoming a great musician is a lifetimes worth of study... so enjoy the ride!

Happy shedding, Scott

Full tab/notation & workbook available to Academy members »

Part 1

Part 2

Want the tab and notation for this lesson?
  • marie

    great lesson scott thank u for takeing time to share with me

    • scott

      My pleasure! S.

  • garnet

    my bredrin Leon put me on to your youtube clips..
    respect to you for sharing your knowledge.. trying to take it in but i’m

  • Ron W.

    Scott, thanks for your great tutorials, I think they are among the best on the web, if not THE best. I was looking for methods centered around the chordal approach, so finding your site has been a real treasure. I stumbled on your tutorials through a search which started with Carol Kaye. If you’re not already linked to her site, perhaps you would benefit by linking with her. Ron

  • That Eb Maj scale starting on the little finger is hard to pull off on a 4 string though. You have to jump down on the G string to hit the octive.

  • Scott,
    Thanks for all your useful lessons!
    I am still however having troubles with remembering which notes are in which key, but this lesson will help me alot while practising I think!
    There is only 1 thing I don’t understand, and that’s the excersise where you combine all the chords together, I just can’t get it to which note your going next.
    I am sorry for my bad English.

    Thanks and keep posting these videos!
    – Davy

  • Issa

    Scott! Your site is pure Gold!! Priceless Stuff! Music School and Instrument classes were overloading me conceptually. But your Site put back Joy in my learning and practice. Keep your site the way it is, soon the entire media sphere will take notice.

  • ken kent

    lesson 2 way over my head.

  • Marcelo

    Hey Mate,

    This is awesome! Great lesson!

    Is there something similar for the minor scales? I am on the dark side of the force and tend to keep my basslines more in minor scales that in major scales… :)

    Let me know where I can find information about minor scales starting with 3 (or 4) different fingers…

    Cheers Mate!

  • donald

    hey scott i really do enjoy your lessons, they are very understanding.I appreciate you learning your way around the bass world and reaching back to help others out that is still out their feeling our way around.keep up the good work,i will be glad to donate to someone that will help someone else understand and be a better player.KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

  • Agustin

    Muchas gracias Scott!!! Un gran abrazo desde Argentina.

  • paul

    Hey Scott!
    thank you so much for your lessons, they really help me alot!

    I really would like to buy your book “The Linear Harmony Concept For Bass Guitar” but cant find it anywhere on your site. can I also get it from amazon?

    greetings paul

  • phil


  • phil

    Hello Scott:

    Thanks for the great tutorials. Really the best thing I have seen online. Aligns well with the way I think I learn music best.

    I am not sure whether this message got through before, so I am trying again.

    I notice that in this tutorial, you play the third position scale differently than you did in another tutorial. IN this case, you play the 7th note on the G string, while in another tutorial you play it on the D string.

    I realize this is a good example of flexibility and knowing your way around the fretboard, but I just wondered if you had any comments on when you would choose to play each option–or does it just depend on the song your playing at the time. Are there any advantages of one over the other in particular situations? If so, what and when.


  • Ara

    Ive been playing bass for years professionally and was lucky enough to travel the world doing it but your practice excercises on these two vids is melting my mind!! You’re teaching an old dog some new tricks, AWESOME!!!! Loving the vids.

  • Dan

    First of all, thanks so much for all I have learned from you! But, I am confused about the progression in lesson 2- for an Aflat major scale isn’t the II-V-I, Bflat-Eflat-Aflat? If so, then where does the C major come in…?

  • Dan

    Thanks for helping us beginners out, Scott. These are really great lessons.
    One thing I’m thinking about is to get a 5 string bass with an extra high C string. I can see how a low B could confuse me, but when I was practicing to play scales over two octaves, I thought the high C could be very useful especially for beginners. What do you think?

  • Alextacy

    As a beginner, the chicken & egg situation is learning which notes are in each scale (as the sharps/flats change) AND where those notes are on the fretboard.

    Does anyone have a recommended good way to learn these notes quickly? Best to sit with a fretboard chart open & a a list of the notes in the scales that I am practicing? I guess it should be a couple of weeks & I will have it down that way. Are there other suggestions? Cheers!

  • narten

    simple and the best

  • David Willis

    I guess we particularly need to practice Mixolydian as most jazz chords are 7ths?

  • Emilio Nieto

    Thanks Scott! :)

  • Simon Ford

    In this video, Scott, you show the major scale from the fourth finger as 4, 1-3-4, 1-2-4,1.
    In your ‘Modes Revealed’ course, you show the major scale from the fourth finger as 4, 1-3-4, 1-3, 1-2.
    Is the real lesson ‘don’t get stuck in a single position’ and experiment with alternatives?