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 Pacman 06-11-2002 07:41 AM

Pacman's sure-fire scale practice method

I’d like to share with you the method I believe is the best way to not only practice scales, but to learn the fingerboard of your bass, and really start getting your ears together. This is the method taught to me by my teacher and I want to share it with all of you. This method applies to all electric basses, regardless of the number of strings. For the examples, however, we’ll use the 4-string configuration. Additionally, all examples will be in the key of C major, but it is very important to practice these exercises in all keys once you’ve gotten the concept down.

One of the problems I think many people run into with scales is that they practice them from root to root. That is, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and then maybe 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. While this is a perfectly acceptable way to learn and practice scales, it’s not a) practical or b) musical. I say practice your scales from the lowest note on your bass to the highest. Let’s begin with C major. I’ll spell out a C major scale and show the note “function” or number beneath:

C 1
D 2
E 3
F 4
G 5
A 6
B 7
C 8(1)

So in C, the lowest available note in the 4-string is the open E string, which we can see is the 3rd of the scale. Start with the E and play E (the 3rd) F (the 4th) and G (the 5th) on the E string. Continuing the C major scale on the next string, play A (the 6th) B (the 7th) and C (the root). Still going up, play the open D (the 2nd) E (the 3rd) and F (the 4th). On the G-string play G (the 5th) A (the 6th) and B (the 7th). Come back down the scale the same way. I find that it helps if you say or sing the note function (number) as you play it. This gets the sound of each note in your head. It’s far more important to understand what the 3rd of a major scale sounds like, for instance, than to recognize an E when you hear it.

The second “box” will start with the lowest F on the 4 string. Continuing in C major, you’d play F, G, and A on the E string, B, C, and D on the A string, E, F, and G on the D string and A, B and C on the G-string. Remember to sing or say the scale numbers to really get the sound of the harmony in your head.

The third “box” starts on the low G. G, A, and B on the E string. C, D and E on the A string. F, G and A on the D. B, C and D on the G-string. Continue moving these “boxes” up the neck in this manner. I generally practice this up one octave from where I started and then come back down again. If you do this, you’ll notice patterns emerge (hint: there are only 3. Ever. No matter what.)

You can (and should) practice any and all scales and modes in this fashion. My suggestion is that once you’ve gotten this concept down you practice all your “C” scales and modes on one day, the next day all of your “C#” scales. Then your “D” scales, etc, etc. If you practice in this manner, your knowledge of keys will grow equally and even the tough keys won’t bother you.

Thanks for reading.

 thrash_jazz 06-11-2002 07:50 AM

Thanks for sharing that Pacman - I've been looking for more effective ways to practice scales, and this looks one of the best I've come across! :cool:

 theJello 06-11-2002 08:19 AM

You are really just going through all the modes right? Each "box" relates to a mode. The only difference is that you are just playing every note possible in that position. Is that what you are saying? Sorry, I read through it kind of fast.

 Pacman 06-11-2002 08:23 AM

Quote:
 Originally posted by theJello You are really just going through all the modes right? Each "box" relates to a mode. The only difference is that you are just playing every note possible in that position. Is that what you are saying? Sorry, I read through it kind of fast.
Well, yes and no. Yes, in that you're starting the scale on each note. But you've got to think of these exercises as still being in the original scale. This way, when you're playing in C major, you're thinking of the function of C major harmony. You should do these exercises with the modes too. The idea is to understand what each scale sounds like, to be able to use it, not just play it 1-8 and 8-1.

 stephanie 06-11-2002 02:31 PM

Re: Pacman's sure-fire scale practice method

Wow, yeah, thanks for sharing that Pacman. :) My teacher taught me scales in that same way - lowest note to highest and back down. Chords (arpeggios) like that too. It's really helped me.

 Jason Carota 06-11-2002 05:19 PM

Quote:
 Originally posted by Pacman This way, when you're playing in C major, you're thinking of the function of C major harmony.
Ah, very cool. I think I will add this to my normal practice routine.

 Pacman 06-11-2002 07:42 PM

My pleasure, everyone.

 beermonkey 06-12-2002 06:11 PM

CaN yoU tAB thIs OuT fOr mE?

:D

 Pacman 06-12-2002 06:26 PM

why i oughta.....

:D

 lump 06-13-2002 05:31 AM

Thanks, Jon. I posted over in the other thread too. When I play, I always think of notes names, not positions on the fretboard (i.e. the note A, not E string, 5th fret). Your method sounds like good mix between standard scales and thinking in key/chord. I'm definitely going to give it a shot.

 Mike Dimin 06-13-2002 05:43 AM

There are a few books out there including Gary Willis' Fretboard harmony, a MI Book (name escapes me), Joel DiBartolo's Serious Electric Bass that deal with this method. I've seen it referred to my a few different names, I use the phrase Scale Forms.

Mike

 Johnny BoomBoom 06-13-2002 06:39 AM

Thanks Pacman - thanks to you and some other guys on this forum, I just may start improving as a bassist!:)

 Pacman 06-13-2002 07:05 AM

Quote:
 Originally posted by Johnny Boom Boo Thanks Pacman - thanks to you and some other guys on this forum, I just may start improving as a bassist!:)
Cool! I wish I'd had a resource like this when I was starting out!

Maybe I'll get off my ass and write a lesson on connecting the boxes - that's where it starts to get interesting!

 K-Frog 06-13-2002 07:32 AM

The MI book

Mike D., I think the MI book is "Bass Fretboard Basics" by Paul Farnen. I have it and it's a great book.

Pacman, thanks for the practice tips. I find that after 15 yrs of playing, I'm just beginning to actually learn how.
K

 Pacman 06-13-2002 07:42 AM

Re: The MI book

Quote:
 Originally posted by K-Frog I find that after 15 yrs of playing, I'm just beginning to actually learn how. K
Hey, me too!

 td1368 06-13-2002 08:05 AM

Pacman thanks for the tip! When you talk about the box it sounds like a two octave scale pattern?

FWIW learning two octave scales really helped me bust out of rote playing of the typical 8 note scale pattern without learning the actual notes.

For real fun I try playing scales with my eyes closed. I found that slows me down enough so I can think about the next note I'm playing.

 Pacman 06-13-2002 08:29 AM

Quote:
 Originally posted by td1368 Pacman thanks for the tip! When you talk about the box it sounds like a two octave scale pattern?
If you're playing a 5 string, yes it's two octaves. It's an ocatve and a half if you're playing a 4, and it's two and a half if you're playing a 6. The real lesson is learning to play all the notes available to you in any given position - rather than stopping at the octave or the root.

 Mike Dimin 06-13-2002 08:41 AM

Quote:
 Originally posted by td1368 FWIW learning two octave scales really helped me bust out of rote playing of the typical 8 note scale pattern without learning the actual notes.
A great 2 octave pattern is to play 1 note per finger and use all 4 fingers on a particular string before switching strings. Here is a G major scale on a 4 string. The technique can easily be transferred to a 5 or 6 string

note: G A B C D E F# G A B C D E F# G
str: E E E E A A A A D D D D G G G
fret: 3 5 6 7 5 7 9 10 7 9 10 12 9 11 12

I hope this makes sense

Mike

 BIg O 06-13-2002 08:51 AM

Quote:
 Originally posted by beermonkey CaN yoU tAB thIs OuT fOr mE? :D
i LUv tHEse 4uMS!!

Quote:
 Originally posted by Mike Dimin note: G A B C D E F# G A B C D E F# G str: E E E E A A A A D D D D G G G fret: 3 5 6 7 5 7 9 10 7 9 10 12 9 11 12 I hope this makes sense
Mike, I've been looking for an exercise to extend my range on single strings, I think trying this with all modes/scales will really help!

--------------------
:D Hey Pacman - always looking for new practice exercises - good exercise - great thread.

 CS 06-13-2002 09:20 AM

A cellist taught to use four notes on each string but always play the first two with the forefinger so it would start (fingers 1-4)

fret 3 5 7 8
finger 1 1 3 4

Edit for diplomacy

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