Shape Shifting Over Chord Changes (L#79)

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Click below to download the backing track for this lesson
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Improvising over multiple chord changes can be a daunting task. It can be challenging to be creative when playing over only one chord, but when there is 2, 3 or even 4 chords it’s easy for your mind to get tied in knots – and instead of making great music, being melodic and hitting some sexy notes ;)… you’re too busy just trying to hit ‘some’ of the right notes and hoping that there’s not too many wrong notes

In this bass lesson I’m going to introduce you to ‘Shape Shifting’. You’re going to learn how you can alleviate some of the issues you’ll have when playing over chord changes by simply shifting patterns on the fretboard. This technique can be used on many different chord sequences, but for this lesson we’re going to concentrate on shape shifting over the Major II V I turnaround.

Grab you’re bass and get in the shed! Scott

Want the tab and notation for this lesson?
  • Johan Sund

    Hi. Just wantet to say this:

    I just LOOVE the frozen pic of you before you hit the play button on the vid.

    Don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but on mine u look extreamly.. “relaxed”.. with the stoner look of the centuary and a nice peace sign goin on with your right hand. Just cracked me up!


  • Jesse

    Man, Scott. I’m a semi-professional bass player and I’ve always felt frustrated with my level of skill (even though it’s more than good enough for the majority of my gigs). You not only provide me a good bar to set for myself, but also a systematic way to reach that new level. I’ve grown tremendously both as a bass player and as a musician who understands theory thanks to challenging videos like these. Thanks for everything!

  • Steve

    These lessons just keep getting better and better….fair doze….

  • Shaun Brooke

    Scott – Are you actually IN the shed, now? By the way, your lessons are inspirational! Thank you so much – Shaun

  • BEN from Lugano

    Another great lesson Scott, but to much for me at the moment.

    But I kike very much hearing you playing sweets expressives solos.

    Anyways there is a lot of thing to pick from this lesson that is very helpfull.

    Thanks and best regards.

    BEN from Lugano

  • Oleg A.

    Thank you very much, dear Scott!

    Your lessons made with love and high professional level.

    Thank you!

    I really love your musicial language, Scott!
    Thank you from Russia once again!

    So, time to time I keep to ask myshelf about strings you use at this beautiful (ash body?) bass?

    Can I ask YOU about it now? -)

    Have you any kind of favorite string cleaners?

    Thank you, dear Scott, once more and be blessed on this right way!

  • Mike Coleman

    Very helpful. I got all your DVD s & working hard now. Thanks

  • scott milford

    Once again, a fantastic lesson my man.Thanks for all you do.

  • Stephen Albert

    Hey wow, what an eye-opener! Thanks again for the lessons man, it’s a lot like being in the room with you. You have this laid back non-chalant style, and you are okay with laughing at yourself a bit in the videos, which might not seem like much but it shows that this is not that serious. You gotta keep having fun, playing around and enjoying what you do otherwise these lessons will mean nothing.

    Good work as always, very enlightening, and I am digging through your lessons as usual.


  • Geert Keizer

    Thank you very much for this great lesson!

  • John Hewitt

    How do I get access to all your great lessons? Doddery Old git longing to learn.

  • Terry smith

    I’m finding that these lessons are way over my head. I play mostly old rock
    And country. I’m looking for new riffs that I can use. Not basic lessions but
    Some helpful hints. Thank you

  • Jim Mitchell

    Great lesson! What a great way to instantly add a new tool to my improvisation toolkit. It does seem a bit specific though: shift up a minor 3rd when transitioning from the ii to the V7. Any “shape-shifting” tricks for other chord changes?

  • pertti olivi

    scott thanks for this nice bass lesson

  • Wilfredo Belen

    Scott, your tutorial on Shape shifting over chords changes it was great
    And educational and made musical sense. I can’t wait for your next

  • McrRed

    Flippin brilliant as usual Scott.
    Thanks a bunch (and en passant tips like “2nd note is the minor” why did nobody tell me this?!
    Great stuff!

  • Tim

    Hi Scott, I’m still so impressed and thankful for all the knowledge you’re sharing. Do you have a video that shows how you get those fast clean runs? I think it has to do with the right picking hand but no matter how hard I try I can’t get those long clean fast runs like you. I can only get a few fast notes with some hammer ons and pull-offs. Thanks again, and may God bless you

  • Paul

    Scott my admired teacher
    Thank you sooo much for your lessons and stuff.
    You can’t even imagine how much you’re helping me.
    I really appreciate.
    Thanks again from Korea.


  • Gary

    Scott,a huge thanks for all your excelent lessons,the wife bought me a bass for christmas and I am having so much fun and thanks to you I already have a good undestanding of the basics and maybe a little more.BIG THANKS,Gary

  • Jason

    Outstanding lesson! Will be using this often, thank you!

  • Oliver

    Great lesson as always …Thanks Scott

  • pablo

    Hey, many thanx for being the most clear english speaker I know!! thank you.

  • anibal’bill’ ibrahim

    thanks for giving use useful stuff we can actually use now… loads of thanks

  • Mitch Biskup


    Thanks for unlocking soooo many magic boxes for us.

  • Billy Milford


    Great stuff. You r a great teacher as even I am able to fathom out what you r imparting. Rather slow I am (57 yrs old now) but your methodical and systematic way of explaining is a real joy and gives me the requisite confidence I have been lacking……….Thanks again! Cheers!

  • Tino G.

    Gracias Maestro. Saludos

  • pete muniz

    scott, when playing melodies or hormony, is it the same scales as playing normal songs?


    pete muniz

    • scott

      It sure is man ;)

  • peter oram

    i like this in principle, but in practice i find voice-leading problems can crop up. e.g ( in key of C for ex) the F in the iv chord is of course the 7th of the V7, which has more or less got to fall to the 3rd of the tonic chord (i.e. f to e) But this movement is almost certain to be happening in one of the other instruments above the bass, thus we have a perfect trap for not very pleasant side effects like parallel octaves and doubled maj 3rds, and also risks weakening that very powerful bond that is the main point of the perfect cadence because the note 5 to note one (or in V inversions note 7 or note 2 to note one) movement the gives the cadence its strength is in danger of turning into the more static feel of a plagal cadence – albeit with a minor iv chord. how do you suggest maintaining the V-I bond in this situation?


  • Jean-jacques Lobbé

    Thx a lot bro ! I replay again my JB´72 for 2 years now and cover with 2-3 bands now in few musical directions, you persuade me to go further in learning … it´ll take time for sure but what a pleasure to follow you guy. Merci beaucoup pour la motivation. LoVe&GrOOve.
    I didn´t already check all the great lessons – One question: are they special lessons using 5 strings bass.
    Have a JB V too !
    Later on

  • mindthegap

    Hey Scott – Had a great time tonight on this lesson! As usual, ur a great teacher and a pleasure to listen to, both on the bass and teaching wise.

  • camille

    hi scott, thank you very very much..for the II V I minor lesson..i ii get your lessons pack when i get paid.. french bass player from Leeds… merci as the french say,,,,

  • Page

    Scott, Thanks for the great lessons. You may have mentioned it during the lesson and I missed it, but why is it that we can shift the pattern up to the minor 3rd and it works?

    • scott

      Hey man, great to hear you’re enjoying the lessons! It works because you end up hitting all the altered notes of the V chord without having to do brain gymnastics ;)

      • Page Phelps

        Forgive my ignorance but what do you mean by “altered notes” for the V chord. The chord is G7 for that example I think right?

        • scott

          The altered notes are basically all the notes that aren’t in the chord. So if the chord was G7 the chord tones would be – g, b, d, f… the altered tones would be everything except those notes. I know that sounds crazy… all the wrong notes lol! But – there’s a real skill to using those wrong notes and it takes a lot of practice to make it sound convincing. That’s why the minor third up shift works so well – it does the hard work for ya! ;)

  • dhonnan apostol from italy

    Thank you sir,all your lessons are good, im a new musician in the here in time,I always study your everyday thanks a lot and god bless,anyway that’s the picture of my loving wife and my sweet daugther cielo,bye dhonnan apostol

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  • Harrison

    Oh, very helpful. Very helpful. Even your response to one of the comments about the alterted tones. Thanks again.

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