1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Should I actually spend ages learning my fretboard and scales really well?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Jeremy Murphy, Jun 13, 2018.


  1. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I agree it is important to prioritize our limited practice time. This is why, for me, the first priority is to learn the 12 major scales, the 12 minor scales, and their key signatures. The reason being, once you can read music in these 24 keys, then you can read any pop music songbook, jazz fake book, classical composition, or bass instructional book ever written (including books of chord studies and arpeggio etudes).
     
  2. dexter3d

    dexter3d

    Jul 4, 2005
    Lithuania
    You have to break it down to manage it, otherwise you'll get overwhelmed. 'Live' in, say, Dm7 for a month. So much that you can shred from one end of the neck to the other woken up in the middle of the night, no matter the position, any inversion, in different order, like 1 5 3 7, 3 7 1 5 etc, plus all the cool licks in that chord that you can come up with. Once you master that, it will feel immensely rewarding, even though it's just one small step. But the further you go, the easier it will become. Once you master all the arpeggios, you'll have 100% fretboard knowledge. Then you can turn to scales.
     
    bassfuser likes this.
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    If I thought there was validity in what you said, I'd agree with it. Simple as that. But you're coming across as someone who's learned from vids and books without a formal teacher, probably has gotten a few concepts down and is able to make some music, might even have a decent sounding band or some cool demos, but doesn't realize how much there is to learn yet and thinks these people in videos are advising him to skip very important beginner concepts and proceed right to what they're talking about. But if you do that, you're left with giant holes in your learning that could save you so much time on the back end if you take a little time to learn them. Recognize it or not, doesn't matter to me. But advising beginners to skip it is a disservice and you won't find anyone who will tell you that it isn't, not even Jeff Berlin. He's as chordal approach as it gets, and he'll even tell you that you need to learn scales to understand chords fully.
     
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    How do you know what Dm is if you don't understand where in the chromatic scale it falls? How do you understand what 1 5 3 7 means and where to locate them on your instrument if you don't know scale degrees?
     
    lfmn16 likes this.
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Or, you could learn the D Minor scale and its key signature and spend a month reading Bach's Toccata and Fugue, Mozart's Requiem, Miles Davis' So What, RATM's Killing in the Name Of, Santana's Black Magic Woman, and thousands of other songs in D Minor. Which bassist is going to get more gigs: the one who can play D minor arpeggios all over the neck, or the one who has an entire repertoire of songs, riffs, and licks they can play in D minor?
     
  6. dexter3d

    dexter3d

    Jul 4, 2005
    Lithuania
    Boasting your own credentials and looking down on others is a bit off putting. Ok ok, let's just say, I'm a multi-instrumentalist with formal music training. Is the wiener comparison over, or do you want to continue? :) Could you entertain a thought for the moment, that sometimes, when it comes to teaching students, less is more? That's the gist of this approach. You're also not really trying to understand what I'm saying, so I think it's about time we call it a day.
     
  7. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    +1

    It blows my mind that some people argue that ignorance is OK. If someone wants to bang out Mustang Sally with their buddies over a six pack, yea you might not need to know all your scales. But don't tell the guy (or gal) that is trying to be a serious musician that they don't need to know scales and their fretboard. It's not the ONLY think they need to know, but I don't know of a single reputable teacher that doesn't start there.
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You could say it, but I wouldn't believe it. :D

    If it is true, you are an anomaly. I can't image that if you asked a large number of formally trained musicians if they think that knowing scales and the fingerboard is important, that you would get many, if any, that would say no. ;)
     
    Toolmybass likes this.
  9. dexter3d

    dexter3d

    Jul 4, 2005
    Lithuania
    You're beating a strawman, probably without even realising it. Comprehension, comprehension..
     
  10. dexter3d

    dexter3d

    Jul 4, 2005
    Lithuania
    (Chuckle). If you really cd manage to do that in a month, then you'll be a super-noob. All the world's gigs (and gals) will be yours. And I'm serial.
     
  11. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I thought that was the point of a strawman...
     
    Mushroo likes this.
  12. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Learning 5 songs a month is a totally realistic goal for me, because I can read sheet music in the key of D minor.
     
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well there is more work involved than just learning the Dm scale, that is true. You have to be able to read music as well. But depending on how fast you progress, it can take some people well under a year to be able to read some semi-difficult stuff.
    My wife and grandkids get the warm fuzzies...musicians don't :D

    Less is not more when it comes to learning music unless you're trying to cram everything you know down the throat of a newb in the first lesson. Nobody does that. I keep telling you it's all cumulative. You learn it in a certain order one concept at a time for a reason, and if you go in the wrong order or skip steps, you may think you're cheating the devil but I can tell you from experience that you are not, and no reputable teacher would ever suggest otherwise. But on the other hand, most players at your stage who have something on the ball (and actually, I was assuming you did) learn that lesson the hard way once they try to hang in situations they can't. Or they don't and they end up not getting calls. I know I sure did. I got woken up REAL fast when I got introduced to the world of jazz in high school. And if you're looking to hang in advanced situations, I can assure you that jazzers will be more than happy to point out your gaps in knowledge. I'm Little Mary Sunshine compared to a lot of them.
     
    BassChuck and JPaulGeddy like this.
  14. No, I wouldn't. That particular book is too advanced for a beginner. But I think the point is that it's probably more important to focus on chord tones vice scales sooner rather than later. There are plenty of beginner level books that can give that info.
     
  15. Reply that talked the most to me.


    EDIT TO EVERYONE:

    I've gotten a bit better at memorizing notes in the early middle of the neck. I know my shapes and intervals well, But i've mostly gotten insanely better at improvising by ear without knowing what notes I am playing. I am still seeing this as a very important objective to accomplish, but I dissagree with most people, who seem to think that not learning all your fretboard notes is ludicrous to becoming a great musician.

    I think I should remind people that so many insanely talented rockstars had little if any knowledge of music theory. I've come to the self-induced conclusion that, learning by ear and having a good sense of pitch far obliterates any knowledge of music theory. It is also more important, in my opinion.

    I've recently picked up the electric guitar, and being self-taught, have managed to compose so many interesting chord progressions WITHOUT even knowing what chords I was playing! My brain has a sense for what chord shapes will work in conjunction with each other, and it's amazing because I can compose effortlessly and beautifully this way!
     
  16. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    Of course. Theory is a means to an end, which is music - one shouldn't mistake one for the other. There are other means as well. I'd suggest you keep doing both - improvising and learning the technical piece. If you're making progress, that's the important thing!
     
    Jeremy Murphy likes this.
  17. MichelD

    MichelD

    May 19, 2014
    I do not have a "magic" ear. In fact, after 51 years playing guitar and bass I still can't play Mary had a little lamb or Happy birthday by ear. I have a hard time telling if a following note from the last one I played is higher or lower. I was coaxed into playing lead guitar for a basement band I played in for a while (we actually got paid gigs too) and I was home moaning about having to watch videos on Youtube and look up lessons for how to play the solos on classic rock tunes like Secret Agent Man or "For your love" and a friend who was visiting, a viola player said "Why don't you just listen to it and play it?" She was a natural and could do that trick. I can't.

    I attended a popular blues jam one time with my bass and got up with a bunch of strangers who had no bassist and did fine with the first song, "Crosscut blues" and as it was a blues jam, I expected all simple 12-bar songs. I can do just about any Chuck Berry song, anything Willie Dixon wrote, you know, the usual thing. But the next song they played was an 8-bar or more complex blues song I didn't know nor could I figure out the chords. The jam manager pulled the plug on the sound and lights and everything and chased us off the stage. He came up to me after, gave me a beer ticket at least, but then admonished me declaring that at his jams he expected people with talent to show up.

    Lacking talent have I made it a practice to learn all the scales up and down the neck and major and minor, major seventh, dominant seventh, minor arpeggios and minor 7 flat 5 arpeggios too. I went to see and old friend a couple weeks ago who loves classic jazz vocal tunes and when he put the real book in front of me I could play All of me, Autumn Leaves, Blue Moon, and other tunes along with him. Same with my singer-songwriter friend. He writes with a lot of those jazz-type chords and progressions so with a chord chart in front of me I can play with him. I am fortunate that I have good time so as long as I get the chord tones right, I can accompany people pretty well.

    I've always said that if I have been able to do anything of any value with music it is from an interest, dedication, practise and enthusiasm over talent.

    So what am I saying? There's more than one way to skin a cat.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
    BOOG likes this.
  18. BOOG

    BOOG Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2016
    Cleveland, Ohio
    The prick at the blues jam (assuming open mic) could have benefited from a headstock jab to the throat.
     
    MichelD likes this.
  19. dtsamples

    dtsamples Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2010
    Wilmington, DE
    drakechord.
     
    Mushroo likes this.
  20. White Beard

    White Beard

    Feb 12, 2013
    There it is people. Bass just got figured out. No reason for anyone to give a sh*t, ever.
     
    Nashrakh, BOOG and SteveCS like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.