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Learning New Scale

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Robert Spencer, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Pretty new to learning bass guitar. I learned the Major Pentatonic scale & it was a lot of help to me playing blues.
    Now i want to branch out into bluegrass & country playing R-5 songs in G. Is there a scale that can be as helpful in doing this?
  2. Yes, it's called a teacher, get a good one!
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    +1. Yes, a teacher would be the best way to go alright.

    However if you wish to go it alone, learn the major and minor scales. In the absence of a teacher, IMO the "Bass Guitar for Dummies" book would be a good investment. It may be in your local library. Comes with a CD too. The web site www.studybass.com is also great.

    Here, it deals with the major scale.

  4. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Simple answer - if the chord progression is major use a major scale. If the chord progression is minor use a minor scale. However you are asking a question that ends up being a double edged sword. Blues, Country and Bluegrass are not the same; each has it's own unique set of scales and chord progressions. Yes you need to run your scales so your fingers know where the notes are on your fretboard, but when we move from scale exercises to playing songs; scales are for fish, we play chord tones.

    I spent about an hour - which is OK - writing a bunch of gobble-gook answering this post as it pertains to which scales and then I realized none of what I had written would help you if you do not understand how to build a bass line from the notes of the chords being used in the song. Reading between the lines, I believe that may be the case. If that would be of interest let's start there. If you would just like some scale exercises here are some that will keep you busy.

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.

    Major Scale Box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Want the C major scale. Find a C note on your 3rd or 4th string. Place the box's R over that C note and then play the scale "spelling" listed below.

    • 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.

    All the gobble-gook talked about which scale notes. Which brings us right back to the notes in the chords.
  5. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yeah man, like blakebass said, get a teacher. If u don't have a qualified one in ur area find a teacher who does Skype lessons.
    FYI, learn the minor pentatonic for the blues yo!
    P.s. I give Skype lessons. -d
  6. Thanks malcolm. I know the first one very well now. The others I will learn next,
    I would love a teacher but i live on an island in coastal Alaska so I am dependent upon the net to solve problems like this.
  7. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    The National Geographic TV channel has been running some Alaska shows lately and living on a coastal island in Alaska looks like it would be a great place to live.

    I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas and now live on a lake in East Texas. I'm drawn back to the water.

    Have fun with your scale exercises.
  8. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Major and minor scales are the meat and potatoes. Pentatonic scales are derived from those.
  9. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    u sure about that? this question probably should b another thread, but I'm not so certain the pentatonics are derived from major and minor...i'm thinking pentatonics came first to our western ear, then Pythagorus just filled in the blanks...think abut most of western folk music...lots of pentatonics...some american indian flutes are tuned we just pentatonics..just saying yo!
    P.s. when i lived in Seattle I crossed the Sound many many times to play over Bainbridge...traveled up and down the peninsula Long live the Island yo!
  10. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Thanks for the site. One of my last assignments with Mack Trucks, Inc. was to market a front discharge concrete mixer truck in the western half of the US. I fell in love with the upper North West; Oregon, Washington, Idaho, etc. The Snake River country was like nothing I had ever seen before.

    I'm a 5th generation Texan and have already put up the head stone, the kids will not have to worry with that, so I'm here for the long haul. My next move is to the home; nursing or funeral, only time will tell.

    Enjoyed the pictures.
  11. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Pythagoras didn't fill the blanks, he only tried to explain the tuning system. Ancient Greek music used tetrachords as a pitch system. Stick a couple of those suckers together and you get the Greek modes and hypomodes, which are the antecedents of the Western diatonic scale. Arabic maqamat is similar, in that maqams are built of ajnas (trichords and tetrachords) that interlock to form what we would recognize in the West as scales. There was probably pentatonic stuff coming out of Greece as well, and there is certainly a strong pentatonic presence in Magyar (Hungarian) peasant music, as well as the folk music of Northern Europe (the British Isles, Finland, etc.), but the Catholic plainchant that was systematized in the 8th century (the direct ancestor of a great big chunk of our modern harmony) was modeled after the supposed Greek heptatonic modes (as far as I know, after Boethius' writings on octave species).

    I don't think that the pentatonic scale "morphed" into the heptatonic scale, at least not in the last thousand years or so. Nor did it go the other way around, despite my earlier comment. However, for the purposes of the modern musician, it is useful to realize that C D E F G A B contains C D E G A, and they don't sound all that different. I think of the major pentatonic scale as a specialized subset of the major diatonic scale, and the minor pentatonic scale as a specialized subset of the minor diatonic scale, because the feel is basically the same. The difference is that you can make a lot more chords out of the diatonic scale, so it's useful to learn that for harmony reasons.