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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. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    And guitar! I wish I was insane so I could do it to!:laugh:
  2. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Some of the compositions you named are in fact straight up D minor, but some are modal like So What which is D dorian.
  3. YES,YES,YES!!! If you really want to have your own voice, you MUST put in the time. I know it may seem tedious, but you will be rewarded in the end. It's really all about how hard you're willing to work
    John j likes this.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Define "ages".

    Maybe 10,000 hours or so should do it. :thumbsup:
  5. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    You've got your whole life in front of you. Might as well learn as much as you can about bass and music as possible.
    Yah - it takes time. Or just learn as much as you feel is going to fill your interest. Learning music and learning about music really isn't that hard, but it does take some time.
  6. dtsamples

    dtsamples Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2010
    Wilmington, DE
    No sense learning about music when you can compose effortlessly and beautifully without knowing what you're playing just by having an intrinsic feel for what shapes work together.
  7. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I'm 65 and have been manipulating some kind of guitar or bass since 1968. I never adequately learned to read music though I played a bit of clarinet in the last year of high school, the only year we had a music teacher and program. (Really)

    Anyway, since that time I've played Top 40, R&R, bluesy-rockabilly, western swing, honky-tonk country, bluegrass, singer-songwriter compositions, and jazz standards in bands, usually learning from the leaders and listening to the songs and using chord charts. I decided in the last couple years to concentrate on learning to read bass clef. Mostly because I'm interested in improving my walking bass technique and there are so many good printed resources out there.

    You can go a long way learning arpeggios and scales in learning walking bass, and Youtube lessons are great, but I wanted to be able to read the notes. I've got a book here called "Teach yourself rock bass" printed in 1978 that I've had nearly that long and I'm finally getting thoroughly into it to learn classic bass lines. Sure, the phrases were in tab and notes, but the notes make more sense once you've learned the basics.

    Learning bass clef for electric bass and upright isn't that hard. Most of the stuff I want to play is all within the first five frets on the instrument anyway, so you don't end up way up the neck and similarly, the notes are not usually too high off the staff either.

    Those are my observations so far. Still learning and still trying to improve.
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Learning chord tones, and passing notes is the first step. But yeah, the more comfortable you are knowing where every note is, and the easiest ways to get there, can make life a LOT easier.
    Lownote38 likes this.
  9. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    John j likes this.
  10. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Somehow, I got confused about the chords in your provided bass transcription.
    Mushroo likes this.
  11. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    Sorry. I copied that post from someone else's post on this site. Those chords are wrong, but I just ignored them and played by the key signature (4 sharps). We're reading the bass line not strumming a guitar to the written chords anyway.
  12. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Here is my next question.
    The tonic chord is C#7, then, how many sharps should we have?
  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    No. Spend six weeks doing NOTHING BUT THAT. You should have most scales and the fretboard down pretty well by then. Will you know how improvise on the spot? Probably not. That will come with time.
  14. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I'm no music scholar or expert, self taught but I believe that would be the key of E major or C#minor , thus 4 sharps: C#, D#, F#, G#.
  15. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Usually at this moment, some of our knowledgeable TB members post something like, "It's Blues in C# major with all those Blues notes" .
  16. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    How would you decide between those two finalists? Do you hear one note or the other (E or C#) standing out and giving a sense of "home"? Can you hear the harmonic progression, and if so, does that give you any clues whether the tonal center is E major vs C# minor?
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  17. T.Rex


    Sep 19, 2015

    How do you go about practicing your scales all over the fret bored and getting out of just playing root to octave
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You learn the name of each note on the fretboard on every string one note at a time, you learn the different locations of the same note on every string one note at a time, and then you can proceed with learning how scales and chords are formed. It sounds a lot more of a task in a short explanation than it is. There are only 12 repeating notes over and over, so it's not going to take you as long as you might think it will. The trick is to take everything one note at a time and don't move onto the next note until you've got its location memorized. Better to spend a few minutes memorizing where one note is than to try to memorize a whole bunch of them in that same few minutes.
    TomB and SteveCS like this.
  19. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Learning note location, all of them, is an important first step. The next step is to break out of playing those awful 'scale box' patterns. So,
    1. Stop playing the octave with pinky. It locks you into the box trap.
    2.Learn to shift so that you can play fluently between positions. Start by playing 4 notes per string, then 5, 6 etc...

    To break out of the box in the first instance, try this. Play the C scale starting at 3 on the A string. Go up to D on the G string with Pinky then back down to F on E with Index without shifting and with no open strings.
    Whousedtoplay, Nashrakh and JimmyM like this.
  20. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    First I'm going to assume you all of the major scales completely memorized, meaning you can play them in 1 octave, you know the key signatures, you know the note names, and you can read & write them in standard music notation. I'm also assuming you know what the "circle of 5ths" is. If not then STOP and learn those things first.

    I'm also going to assume you have a standard 20-fret, 4 string bass. If you have a different number of strings and/or frets, then adjust the exercise accordingly.

    Let's start with E Major (EF#G#ABC#D#E). The lowest note you can play that fits the scale is your open low E. The highest note you can play is D# at the 20th fret of the G string. So, practice the E Major scale from the open low E all the way up to the high D# at the 20th fret, and then back down.

    Moving around the circle of 5ths, the next scale is B Major (BC#D#EF#G#A#B). The lowest note you can play is E and the highest note is D#. Practice the B Major scale from the open low E up to the high D# at the 20th fret, and then back down.

    Next up is F# Major (F#G#A#BC#D#E#F#). The open low E no longer fits the scale, so we can't start there. Instead, we start from low E# at the 1st fret. Practice the F# Major scale from E# at the 1st fret up to D# at the 20th fret, and then back down.

    Continue the exercise around the circle of 5ths until you get back to E. (And there's no particular reason you have to start and end in E; you could start and end in C for example if you prefer. I chose E Major because E is the lowest string on my bass; seems logical.)

    There is no one specific "correct" fingering for these scales. Coming up with different fingerings is part of the fun. :) Here are a few different fingering suggestions you can experiment with:
    1. Play the standard "one octave major scale box pattern" fingering, then shift your hand up an octave and repeat the box pattern.
    2. Do the same with any other major scale fingerings that you know (for example the pattern that starts with the 1st finger).
    3. Play as far up the scale as you can in "1st position" (using only the open strings and frets 1-4) and then continue the scale up the G string.
    4. Play the scale all the way up the E string, and then when you run out of room, shift to the A, D, and G strings.
    5. Play 3 notes per string whenever possible.
    6. Play 4 notes per string whenever possible. Then 5 notes per string, 6 notes per string, etc.
    7. Use open strings as much as possible, and while the open string is ringing out, use that as an opportunity to shift your hand higher up the neck.
    8. Avoid open strings unless absolutely necessary.
    9. Use all four fretting fingers 1-2-3-4.
    10. Use only fingers 1-2-4.
    11. Use just one finger, for example only your 1st finger.
    Whichever fingering you choose, my advice is the same: Go slow. Use a metronome, drum machine, or backing track. Make sure you understand the note name and how it fits into the scale (for example in E Major, G# is the 3rd degree) and you aren't just blindly playing muscle-memory patterns. Above all else, listen! Every major scale has the same do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do sound. You should be able to hear if you make a mistake and play a wrong note outside the major scale.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. :)
    tothemax and Nashrakh like this.

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