Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by OchreOtter, Nov 28, 2013.

  1. OchreOtter


    Nov 28, 2013
    So I've been playing bass for 6 years now. I taught myself literally everything i know; i never took lessons of any sort. That being said, I have encountered several problems now that I'm trying to further myself in my playing as everything i attempt to play/learn is in formal sheet music, chords, arpeggios, scales. The only thing i ever really learned was songs, and some sense of scales in that i just played around with what sounded good. I need to learn this stuff to become a better bassist, but i cant take lessons, so what should i do? :confused:
  2. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Get a method book and/or go online to someplace like and go through the programmed method. Which you can supplement through places like this site and those offering instruction on Youtube.
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    You may have most of this, if not help yourself. And yes to

    Here is what got me going. The major scale box pattern and the scale degrees with that box, i.e. want to run the C major scale; place the box's R note over a C note on the 3rd or 4th string and then use the scale sequence for a major scale, i.e. R-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Want to play the C natural minor scale? Place the R the same way, but, this time use these scale degrees within the box R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-8. Yep, the C natural minor scale will use the same notes as the C major scale, except it'll flat the 3, 6 & 7.

    Want to play a bass line for a C major chord. Place the box's R over a C note on the 3rd or 4th string and then play the R-3-5-8 scale degrees within the box. Here is the box and the scale degree sequences for a bunch of things. See if that works for you.

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.

    Major Scale Box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string

    Basic Chords
    • Major Triad = R-3-5
    • Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    • Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    • Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    • Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    • Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    • ½ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    • Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7

    See a chord and play it's chord tones. As every key will have three major, three minor and one diminished chord it's a good idea to get your major, minor and diminished bass line chord tones into muscle memory so when you see a chord your fingers just know what will work. Now the song may only give you enough room for the root, or root five - adapt and get as many chord tones into your bass line as needed. Root on 1 and a steady groove from the other chord tones plus something to call attention to the chord change is what we do.

    • Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7 Home base
    • Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 Leave out the 4 & 7
    • Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Major scale with the 3, 6 & 7 flatted.
    • Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 Leave out the 2 & 6.
    • Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 Minor pentatonic with the blue note b5 added.
    • Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 Natural minor with a natural 7.
    • Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 Major scale with a b3.
    Let the major scale be your home base then change a few notes and you have something different. No need to memorize a zillion patterns. Let the major scale pattern be your go to pattern - then adapt/adjust from there.

    Generic Notes - for your bass line.
    • The root, five and eight are generic and fit most any chord. Remember the diminished has a flatted 5.
    • The 3 is generic to all major chords. So R-3-5-3 will fit under any major chord.
    • The b3 is generic to all minor chords. And R-b3-5-8 will fit under any minor chord. Why the 8? Well the 8 is just another root in the next octave.
    • The 7 is generic to all maj7 chords. Yep, R-3-5-7 fits nicely.
    • The b7 is generic to all dominant seventh and minor seventh chords. G7 = R-3-5-b7 or Gm7 = R-b3-5-b7.
    • The 6 is neutral and adds color, help yourself to 6’s. Love the sound of R-3-5-6 with a major chord.
    • The 2 and 4 make good passing notes. Don’t linger on them or stop on them, keep them passing.
    • In making your bass line help yourself to those notes, just use them correctly.
    • Roots, fives, eights and the correct 3 & 7 will play a lot of bass.

    Now go look at the following information from Whousedtoplay. Go to the 7th post.

    This should give you enough to keep you busy for awhile. When you get all that into muscle memory we'll get into what to do with this in a song.

    Have fun.
  4. OchreOtter


    Nov 28, 2013

    Wow. this helps A LOT. i cannot thank you enough. but i have one question. That particular box pattern changes from structure to structure right?
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Yes, when you want the natural minor scale R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-8 the b7, b6 & b3 are now in a different location within the box. Flats move one fret back toward the nut and sharps move one fret toward the sound hole.

    I catch my b3 right after the 2 on the low string, i.e. next fret from the 2. You can if you want catch the b3 on the A string one more fret toward the nut than where the 3 is.
    The b6 will be right over the b3 on the next string up .
    The b7 will move back and be right over the 4 on the next string up.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Flats move one fret toward the nut and sharps move one fret toward the sound hole.

    I use the major scale box as my go to box and then change a few notes to get what ever else I'm looking for. I don't have eight to ten box patterns, I visualize the major scale box and then make adjustments from that.
    Major stuff will use the natural 3.
    Minor stuff will use a flatted b3.

    Take another look at the scale degree sequence on the chords and scales I gave you.
    Once you put them to memory it becomes a piece of cake. Want the melodic minor scale - use the major scale and flat the 3. Want the harmonic minor scale - use the major scale and flat the 3 & 6. Want the major pentatonic - use the major scale and omit the 4 and 7.

    Will take you a couple of months to get this going, but, after that how to make scales and chord tone bass lines will belong to you. How to make them is just the beginnings, how to use them is the next thing you need to spend some time with. In making them you are training your fingers to do things they never have before and your ear is beginning to recognize the sound of the good notes - and the bad notes. It's a journey.

    Good luck.

    P.S. All that R-3-5-7 stuff comes from.