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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. leftyjohn


    Mar 20, 2018
    NW US
    There is a saying where I grew up: The long road is the short road. The hard way is the easy way. Meaning something......oh yeah.....learn those scales......all modes, all keys......it is good for the ears if nothing else.
    i guess...
    JimmyM likes this.
  2. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I've been playing for 30 years and I am still working at learning my fretboard and scales "really well"

    It's not like you'll ever be "done"
    There is always a new way to understand things.
    So you better learn to enjoy the learning.
  3. Watch this YouTube and then decide:
    This is not one of the better videos by Rick Beato but it gives you an idea how much having some basic knowledge can help you. I've been a "hack" guitar / bass player for well over 30 years memorizing song parts and patterns, never willing to put the study time in to understand the circle of 5ths or the scale structures. The band I'm in now with some very decent musicians and for the first time with horn players have made me realize how much extra work it is to not understand why you are doing things. I've been lucky having a good ear and to have been playing in bands with forgiving players in the past. It really hit home watching a Rick Beato's video on Toto (What makes this song great), where he talks about this sus blah, blah chord and how it affects makes the hook... Anyway in my 60's I'm doing the homework now and my bandmates appreciate it... best to you.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
    12BitSlab likes this.
  4. Tottery


    Aug 17, 2015
    If you're wanting to improvise without experimenting to find the "right" note in front of an audience, it's very important for you to learn the fretboard, scales, and chord construction.

    Imagine improvising in front of a live audience and your guitarist is playing a Dmaj7 chord. You're ready to make your imprint and begin by rocking A flat eighth notes. It's not going to sound good. Learn it.
    TheLowDown33 and BoogerMan79 like this.
  5. Anything you put your time into will be worth it. Just dedicate 10-15 min a day of focused practice so it's not such a burn out task. Even better, visualize the fretboard when you don't have a bass in you're hands, while saying the notes. If you can do this, you don't really need to put so much physical effort into, and you'll still be making the brain to note connections
  6. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    batman slapping robin2 don't need scales.
  7. leftyjohn


    Mar 20, 2018
    NW US
    Wouldn't it be nice to change the voice on that note pattern you are playing by moving somewhere else on the neck of your bass? Of course it would! At least that is what I tell myself when I play scales all over the place.
    BoogerMan79 likes this.
  8. John j

    John j

    Dec 20, 2018
    5 string has just two patterns to remember (string to string)
    Bb Eb Ab Db Gb
  9. BobW61


    Apr 9, 2019
    Grimsby, England
    Chord Tones (Arpeggios) and there inversions are a good starting point....knowing your scale intervals is also important, but saying that just have fun and learn songs which personally I find the most enjoyable, if your just a weekend warrior cover band player I would just learn a few bits of theory but if your taking it to say pro level then yes you will need to be at the top of your game, good luck.
  10. 2strings2frets

    2strings2frets Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2017
    I agree with Malcome,scales are very important,however, they are a drag. I spent years on them and only knew a few songs. The best advice I read and put into practice was to apportion your practice time. If you have an hour for example,warm up with scales for 20 or30 minutes of that time then work on a new song or play a few you already know. Keep practice fresh so it is something to look forward to instead of a chore,stay happy.
  11. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Hmmm, not sure this fully addresses the "...learning...really well" thrust of the question...

    The point of practicing scales, arpeggio and the like is not to learn the notes, which can be done in minutes away from the instrument, but to develop and maintain technical control of tone, dynamics, articulation, tempo, timing, intonation, etc...
    12BitSlab, Jeremy Murphy and Nashrakh like this.
  12. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Great tip I just picked up from Jayme Lewis; in practice, use a capo to guardrail against going past a certain point on your fretboard. I've been playing for many years, but have always been weak in the general area of below the 6th fret on the G and maybe a little higher than that on the D. It will help with walking bass for sure.
  13. John j

    John j

    Dec 20, 2018
    After further review of my post, I see no such claim that it will help in learning scales, arpeggios etc. It's merely a tool to help learn the notes on the fingerboard.
    However, since I did not specify the intent, I can understand your witty retort.
  14. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, you should. That said, that should not be all you do, and not being perfect with that skillset doesn't mean that you can't play.

    Learn your fretboard, but scales are more important in a practical sense. Learn theory, arpeggios, key signatures, and chord progression while practicing your fretboard knowledge.

    Above all, train your ear. It's good to know your fretboard and all of the note names, but that's not how we play music. It is, above all, a language, and should be treated as such (reading and writing, as well as reciting, are different skillsets to speaking, listening, and communicating).

    So yes, learn your fretboard, but don't do it at the expense of your other skills. I think that's the fundamental question that you're asking. It's very, very important, but it isn't critical to the point that you can't play without it.
    Jeremy Murphy and BoogerMan79 like this.
  15. Cheers! I forgot that visualisation is a good technique aswell :)
  16. Could not agree more. I've trained my ear loads and have reached the point where memorizing my notes is the next step to get significant improvement! Alot of people do it the otherway round, which I think is completely wrong.

    Same with music theory. It's good to learn a bit of basics (intervals, triads (+ 7th)/arppegios, scale intervals) but the amount of online bass teachers that say ''you can't play bass properly without knowing all the theory'' is really baffling!
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    juggahnaught likes this.
  17. I really appreciate all the feedback! I know my answer now, wish you all the best :)
    SteveCS likes this.

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