In this blog post, we will discuss 6 of the easiest bass scales that beginner bass players should learn.
Don’t have time for a long article? No worries. If you want a quick overview of the easiest scales bassists can learn then here it is.
The 6 best scales for beginners bassists to know are the major scale, natural minor scale, major & minor pentatonics, blues scale and chromatic scale.
Why do I need to learn scales?
While you don’t need to learn scales in order to play Bass guitar, they can be a valuable tool for expanding your playing ability. Scales allow you to create melodies, bass lines and solos, and help you understand the structure of music.
If you’re just starting out on Bass guitar, I recommend that you start by learning some basic scales.
The scales we’ll be discussing in this blog post are some of the easiest ones to learn, and they will give you a good foundation for further scale exploration.
Now that we know why Bass guitar scales are important, let’s take a look at the six easiest scales for beginner players.
How To Practice Bass Scales
The best way to learn any new skill is to practice regularly. When it comes to practicing Bass scales, I recommend that you set aside some time each day to practice.
Start by learning one scale at a time. Once you have mastered a scale, move on to the next one.
Don’t try to learn all of the scales at once.
This will only lead to frustration.
When you practice, make sure that you are playing the scales in different keys. This will help you better understand how the scales work.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Bass scales can be a lot of fun to play and there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating melodies and bass lines.
Now that we know a little bit about Bass guitar scales, let’s get you started on your scale journey!
How To Build Scales
Each scale in music has what we call a tonal structure. A tonal structure is a kind of blueprint which shows you how to construct the scale.
Each tonal structure is made up of an interlinked series of tones and semitones.
A semitone on the bass guitar is the distance from one fret to the fret immediately next to it.
You can go up or down the neck. The direction doesn’t matter. If you go from one fret to the one immediately next to it then you’re moving by a semitone.
A tone, (yes, you guessed it), is twice that distance or two frets up from the note you started on.
With these two simple pieces of information in mind you start building chains of interlinked tones and semitones to construct all kinds of scales.
Let’s see what we can build.
The Chromatic Scale
The chromatic scale is the most basic of all Bass scales. It consists of all 12 notes in Western music, and is a great scale to start with if you’re new to Bass guitar.
It’s essentially a long line of semitone steps.
To play the chromatic scale, simply play each note in turn from low to high, or vice versa. Start on an open A and then play the note a semitone above that (Bb on the 1st fret), then go a semitone above that Bb (B on the 2nd fret) and keep proceeding in this fashion until you get back to A.
Once you reach A, you’ll have reached an octave above where you started and the scale will be complete.
The Major scale
The major scale is one of the most important Bass scales, and is a great second scale to learn after the chromatic scale. It consists of seven notes, and forms the basis for many Bass lines and melodies.
The major scale tonal structure is more complex than the chromatic scale.
You still start from the root note (let’s start from C on the A string this time), but this time you have seven steps which are tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone.
This will produce the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C.
As we’ve built the major scale from the note of C we would call this the C major scale.
You can reuse this major scale tonal structure from any note. It’s actually a good exercise to start this sequence from every note on the neck so you can really memorize it.
The Natural Minor Scale
The natural minor scale is another important Bass scale. It consists of seven notes, and is similar to the major scale, but with a slightly different pattern.
In fact, it’s actually a reordering of the major scale pattern.
The natural minor scale structure is root, tone, semitone, tone, tone, semitone, tone.
If you look closely, you’ll see that this natural minor pattern is the major scale pattern that’s started from the 6th step.
To play a natural minor scale, start on the root note (the first note of the scale) and work your way up in succession.
If we were to do this starting from A we’d get A, B, C, D, E, F, G and A. This would be called the A natural minor scale.
And you’ll likely notice that this scale uses all the same notes as the C major scale listed above.
Intervals In Music
An interval is the distance between two notes.
We’ve already seen this idea in practice when talking about tones and semitones.
These are simply two names for describing the musical distance or “interval” between two notes.
There are two main types of interval: harmonic and melodic.
Harmonic intervals are when two notes are played together at the same time, while melodic intervals are when the notes are played one after another.
The Bass scales we’ve looked at in this article all use melodic intervals.
Melodic intervals are further divided into two categories: major and minor.
A major interval is the distance of two tones, while a minor interval is the distance of a tone and a semitone.
You can work out the melodic intervals between any two notes by counting the number of steps (tones and semitones) between them.
So what are some scales that use larger intervals than a tone or semitone?
The Major Pentatonic Scale
You could think of it as being a reduced version or an outline of the major scale.
The major pentatonic scale has a root note, a major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 5th and major 6th.
To play this scale, start on the root note (we’ll use C in this example) and then play each note.
From C this produces the following major pentatonic scale.
C, D, E, G, A and C.
The Minor Pentatonic Scale
The minor pentatonic scale is a variant of the natural minor scale that is frequently used in bass lines and songs. It has five notes and a sound that is similar to that of the natural minor scale.
The notes it has are the root, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th and flat 7th which are taken from the natural minor scale.
In A this would be A, C, D, E and G.
To play a minor pentatonic scale, start on the root note (the first note of the scale) and then
The blues scale is a variation of the minor pentatonic scale, and is often used in Bass lines and melodies. It consists of six notes, and has a Bluesy sound that can be used to create great Bass lines.
It has all the same notes as the minor pentatonic scale (root, flat 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th and flat 7th) but it has an added flattened 5th which gives the scale it’s distinct bluesy sound.
To play a blues scale in A, start on the root note (A) and then play the flat 3rd C, the perfect 4th D, the flattened 5th Eb, the perfect 5th E and the flat 7th G.
You’ll probably recognize the sound of the blues scale from famous songs as soon as you play it. It’s been used to create so many famous riffs including Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream.
This means the blues scale is great for jamming and improvising so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and experiment with this scale!
Bass scales TAB & Fretboard diagrams
It’s a great reference for all scale diagrams including the major scale, blues scale, minor pentatonic and just about all other bass guitar scales.
The Importance of Chord Tones
What Are Chord Tones?
A chord tone is simply a note that is found within a chord.
For example, the root, third and fifth notes of a major chord are all chord tones.
It’s possible to extract a chord from each scale that we’ve looked in this article.
You do that by taking the root note, 3rd and 5th from each scale and combining them into a chord.
For example, an A minor pentatonic scale has the root A, 3rd C and 5th E. This give us an A minor chord and means that the A minor pentatonic scale is linked to the A minor chord.
One important thing to remember when learning Bass scales is that you should always try to understand where the chord tones are in the scale.
Chord tones are the notes of a chord, and playing them will make your Bass lines sound more musical.
How many bass scales are there?
There are many different Bass scales, but the ones we have looked at in this article are some of the most common and easiest to learn.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the number of Bass scales, just take it one scale at a time and you’ll be able to learn them all in no time!
Learning Bass scales is a great way to improve your Bass playing and will open up new possibilities for writing Bass lines and melodies.
Which Bass scale should I learn first?
If you’re a beginner Bass player, we recommend starting with the major pentatonic scale.
Once you’ve mastered the major pentatonic scale, you can move on to other scales such as the minor pentatonic, or major scales.
How do you memorize scales on the bass?
There are many different ways to memorize bass scales, but one of the simplest is to use a bass scale diagram.
Bass scale diagrams show you the notes of the scale as well as the fingering pattern that you need to use.
You can find Bass scale diagrams for all the scales we’ve looked at in this article by my friends at guitarcommand.com.
Once you have learned a few, it’s also a good idea to try and improvise with them.
This will help you to better understand how the scale sounds and how you can use it in your Bass playing.
If you need further ideas on how to memorize these scales then take a look at my YouTube tutorial.
What bass scales to learn first?
There is no one “right” answer to this question, as each bassist player may have a different preference. However, the scales mentioned in this article are all good choices for beginner Bass players.
If you’re in doubt just get stuck in or ask your teacher.
What are the 12 major scales for bass guitar?
The 12 major scales for Bass guitar are C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, A, A#/Bb and B.
To learn them all, start the major scale pattern mentioned above from each note.
How do you memorize bass scales?
One way to memorize Bass scales is by practicing them regularly and learning the notes one at a time.
Another helpful technique is to learn Bass scale TAB & fretboard diagrams. This will give you a visual understanding of how the scales are laid out on the Bass guitar neck.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you should always try to use chord tones when playing Basslines.
Chord tones are the notes of a chord and will make your Bass lines sound more musical.
Bass scales are an essential skill for bass guitarists of all levels and abilities. Whether you’re just starting out or have been playing bass for a while, scales will help improve your technique as well as open up new possibilities in your bass lines and melodies.
Learning the major pentatonic scale is often recommended to beginner bass players because it’s easy to learn- but don’t feel limited by this suggestion!
These 6 easiest scales can be used with any type of song that requires bass notes so pick whichever one suits you best.
If memorizing them seems like too much work then try using a bass scale diagram that shows where each note is on the neck along with finger patterns.
You should also remember to always use chord tones when improvising basslines, melodies and riffs- this will make your bass playing sound much more musical.
Have fun and happy Bass playing!
How do you practice your scales? If you’ve got any great tips, advice or lessons you’d like to share with the community then don’t be shy. Leave them in a comment below or head over to the Onlinebassguitar.com facebook page and join the community there!