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Using Pentatonic Scales on the Bass #1 (L#50)

Pentatonic scales are widely used in almost every style of music, so much so that they're often called the 'bread and butter' of the bass player!

In this lesson, I'm showing you how you can get pentatonic scales into your bass lines and what they are good for. I'm also discussing how to adapt them, depending on the style of music you're playing.

Basically, a major pentatonic scale is very much like the major scale, except it misses out the 4th & the 7th, leaving us with just 5 notes (penta = five). The minor pentatonic scale misses out the 2nd and the 6th and sounds much more bluesy or jazzy.

Then, we'll see how we can use both minor and major pentatonic scales over a simple chord sequence. Have fun! ;)

Other lessons in the series

Using pentatonic scales on the bass #2

Using pentatonic scales on the bass #3

Using pentatonic scales on the bass #4

Full tab/notation & workbook available to Academy members »

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  • Jeff Frey

    Hi Scott,
    Can you tell me how the donations work?
    I have donated a couple of times. Then I got the PDF with the lessons. Is that how I
    get any of the new lesson PDF’s or am I missing something.

    Thanks for your help with this and the bass lessons, they have been very helpful.

    • scott

      You’re exactly right Jeff. When you donate you receive all of the PDF’s that are available at the time on the donation. Any future tutorials need another donation. Thanks again Jeff. Scott.

  • Jeff Frey

    Thanks for the info.

    Keep up the good work!


    I JUST made a donation over $20, how do i get my pdf files for every lesson?

    • scott

      Hey man, did you receive them ok? Just gimme a shout if you didn’t get them and I’ll send them straight over. Cheers, Scott.

  • LD

    hey scott!! im from montreal so sorry for the englise :D…i was wondering how can i get your pdf files??

  • francesc

    gracias por tus lecciones scott,compre todo tu material y me esta ayudando mucho,mil gracias y sigue asi,saludos desde españa

  • Vincent

    Hei Scott. Good Job with this video lessons. I’m not english and i think I will “buy” the PDF to understand better! Anyway, at the moment I have a question about the pentatonic and the “Funk” sound.. there are any combinations that let me to “do” a funky bassline? (Exluding rythim, ghost notes, etc. obviously).
    I think that the root and the 8th could work, isn’t it? There are others?

    Thank you again..i hope you will understand my question.

  • Tony


    Change the battery in your smoke detector! Stay safe! ;-)

  • Jia

    Scott, what about dominant pentatonic scales (ie. what are the notes in them)?
    Sorry if it’s mentioned in the other videos because I haven’t watch them.

    • scott

      hey Jia, a dominant pentatonic is where you move the 13th of the chord up half a step – so effectively you’re replacing it with the b7. Thanks for watching man! Scott ;)

  • Vlad

    I’m a bit confused. When you play the pentatonic scale over chords, you play major pentatonic if it’s a major chord, and minor pentatonic if it’s minor chord? Or do you play major pentatonic (if you’re in a major key) over all chords, and viceversa?

    Thanks a lot for the tutorials! Keep up the good work!

  • Jake Crossland

    Scott, Can you tell me what kind of strings you use? Round wound? Nickel? Gauge? Manufacturer?
    I like your tone. Thanks, Jake

  • Markus

    Hi Scott,
    thanks for your great work!
    I just don’t get the difference between scales and pentatonics, and why one shouldn’t play the scale during a chord but the pentatonic.

    Thanks again, Markus

    • Vincent Repel

      Scales do have 7 notes (8 with the octave), Penta=5, so it’s missing 2 notes, 4th and 7th for a major, 2d and 6th for a minor.

      Why you shouldn’t play a scale major or minor or whatever mode is because some notes do not render good on a certain vibe the guitarist and the vocalist or the style of music has.

      So with only 5 choosen notes which are pentatonics, you’re quite sure of not getting in the way of the music. I hope I am understandable (I’m french) and if not, Scott will anser you ;)

  • Okoli Catalyst .N.

    Hi, I’m Catalyst 4rm ABUJA-Nigeria… Pls, when improvising with Pentatonic$ or any Full scale for dat matter, should one aim at striking strategic notes at appropriate points or just haphazardly play around with d said Scale?

  • Ivan

    you either have the slowest beeping metronome ever or your smoke detector needs new batteries… but anyhoo, great lesson!

  • Jason Newstedt