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The Five Essential Scales for The Bassist

The Five Essential Scales for The Bassist – Lessons For Bass Guitar Series…

Through my years of experience, I have had the opportunity to carefully study what are the fundamental scales for the bassist to groove in a song, play melodies, and even to play bass solos.

Next, I’m going to present the five scales, but all of them are going to be played in the tone of A, to facilitate the learning and understanding of each one of them.

The Major Scale

The Major Scale, also known as the Ionian mode, is the basis from which many scales and modes emerge. This scale is characterized by a happy sound and is used on major chords.

Example 1 – The A Major Scale

The Five Essential Scales for The Bassist

Formula: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8

Notes: A – B – C# – D – E – F# – G# – A

The A Natural Minor Scale

The Natural Minor Scale is also known as the Aeolian mode. It is the sixth mode of the major scale. It is characterized by having a dark, sad and melancholic sound and is used on minor chords.

Example 2 – The A Natural Minor Scale

The Five Essential Scales for The Bassist

Formula: 1 – 2 – b3 – 4 – 5 – b6 – b7 – 8

Notes: A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A

The Pentatonic Scales

The pentatonic scale is a musical scale with five notes per octave, in contrast to the heptatonic scale, which has seven notes per octave (like the major scale and natural minor scale). Pentatonics are the most used scales in music due to their easy application.

The minor pentatonic scale is relative to the major pentatonic scale. Therefore, both scales have the same notes but in a different order.

For example:

The C Major Pentatonic consists of C – D – E – G – A – C.

While the A Minor Pentatonic scale has the same notes, but in the following order: A – C – D – E – G – A.

Before delving deeper into both scales, it is important to know that these are the favorites when creating grooves, riffs, etc., in different musical styles such as rock, jazz, blues, among others.

The Major Pentatonic Scale

The major pentatonic scale is a five-note scale and differs from the major diatonic scale in those two notes, the 4th and 7th, are omitted.

It is common to see this scale in the Country music of the United States of America, as well as in Rock, Blues and Jazz. This scale is used on major chords and dominant seventh chords.

Example 3 – The A Major Pentatonic Scale

The Five Essential Scales for The Bassist

Formula: 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 8

Notes: A – B – C# – E – F# – A

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The minor pentatonic scale is a five-note scale and differs from the minor diatonic scale in those two notes, the 2nd and 6th, are omitted.

Of the pentatonic scales, the minor scale is the most famous and even the most used, both for its ease of use and for its comfortable fingering. This scale is used on minor chords.

Example 4 – The A Minor Pentatonic Scale

The Five Essential Scales for The Bassist

Formula: 1 – b3 – 4 – 5 – b7 – 8

Notes: A – C – D – E – G – A

The Blues Scale 

The blues scale is formed by adding a detuned “blue note” to an existing scale, in particular the addition of the flatted fifth to the minor pentatonic scale. This note gives the blues scale that unmistakably bluesy sound and is ideal for playing blues, rock, jazz, country music, etc. The scale is used on minor chords and dominant seventh chords.

Example 5 – The A Blues Scale/The A Minor Blues Scale

The Five Essential Scales for The Bassist

Formula: 1 – b3 – 4 – b5 – 5 – b7 – 8 or 1 – b3 – 4 – #4 – 5 b7 – 8

Notes: A – C – D – Eb – E – G – A 

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