2 octave major scale on a 4 string

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rockin John, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. Please, is there an approved / best / most movement economical way of doing a 2 octive major scale on a 4 string (if it makes a difference to technique, it's on an unlined fretless)?

    I have messed around with this and have found a couple or 3 ways of doing it. Depends on economy of movement, use of open strings / or not, etc.

    To start with I will do lowest E thro G.


  2. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    As I see it, there is no way to do it that doesn't involve quite a bit of position shifts.

    My personal favourite is this one. I have smallish hands so I prefer to stay pretty much in the same position as much as possible, which I think this one allows me to do. There's a five-fret jump which isn't too hard to do, at least not on a fretted bass.

    A major scale
       1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1  3  4 <- fretting hand fingering
    There's also the 4-notes-per-string approach which is quite effective if you can pull it off. Ideally the fretting hand fingering should be 1234 all the way, which isn't all that easy if your hands aren't big enough. It's way easier to do on guitar, and e.g. Allan Holdsworth does it a lot (though his hands are huge).

    A major scale
    Of course, there are more ways to play a two octave major scale, but none that I personally found useful. You might think differently.
  3. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    try and find the stu hamm hotlicks video from the early 90's (mullet and beard HAHAHA!!!). he has an interesting and thoughtful method which from memory is just like oysterman's second suggestion.

    one quick question; why do you feel you need to practice a two octave run?
  4. Thanks very much guys.


  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    IMO< the best means of playing any scale over two octaves is too abide by four basic rules;

    * one finger per fret
    * shift up the neck with your first finger
    * shift down the neck with your pinky
    * only position shift over a tone interval, never a semi-tone

    Where in the scale you put the shifts depends on what position you want to end up.

    G Major over two octaves to end up with your second finger on the G on the A string - ready to play G Major in the octave - would be

    E string
    G - 1st finger
    A - 1st finger
    B - (3rd finger)
    C - pinky
    A string
    D - 1st finger
    E - 1st finger
    F# - 3rd finger
    G - pinky
    D string
    A - 1st finger
    B - 1st finger
    C - 2nd finger
    D - pinky
    D string
    E - 1st finger
    F# - 3rd finger
    G - pinky

    Alternatively, you could play all the way up to the E on the D string, then shift your 1st finger up a tone to the F# and play in that position up to the D on the G string, then shift your 1st finger, again up a tone, to the E F# G.

    Personally, I find playing G A B on the E string in one position is too much of a stretch to give you a real solid feel to the notes. I prefer to make as small a stretch as possible.

    The trick is learning all scale in as many positions as possible, constantly using the rules above...

    For the major scale
    * on 1 string starting on the 1st finger
    * on 2 strings starting on the 1st finger
    * on 2 strings starting on the 2nd finger
    * on 2 strings starting on the pinky
    * on 3 strings starting on the 1st finger
    * on 3 strings starting on the 2nd finger
    * on 3 strings starting on the pinky

    I cant think of any more, but note that you never start on your 3rd finger (because the 2nd of the major scale is a tone from the root).. if you were playing phrygian mode you would need to pratice starting on your 3rd finger rather than your 2nd finger.

    It's lots to work on, take it step at a time. I can thoroughly recommend 'a key per week' :)
  6. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    I would do a search on "Major Tetrachords". That will show you the myriad of ways to create a two octive major scale. I'd explain it, but I have the flu and I'm not sure I can type that long correctly. lol... :rolleyes:
  7. Thanks V much.

    I'm starting to understand that there's no right or wrong way about this. It seems to depend on where you want to end up. However, for the moment, I'm gonna concentrate on just 1 method (dunno which, yet).

    Appreciate the wisdom so far.


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