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Bass Scales Chart

In music theory, scales are a group of musical notes that work together. It is important for a bassist to memorize the basic shape of each scale type to be able to jam with a band and create their own songs.

The musical notes in the bass fretboard follow a well-defined order, so it’s natural that the scales (major, minor, etc) are built over a pattern. That means you don’t need to remember where each note of a scale is, you just need to know the location of your tonic and the shape of your desired scale.

In this article, we are going to present you the most popular bass scales chart and explain how you can transpose them to different keys, as well as give you some tips to help you memorize the shapes and practice the bass guitar more efficiently.

Tip: See the best instruments for beginners and advanced players in our Best Bass Guitar article.

Table of Contents

1. The Major Scale

The Major Scale

Darker Dot: Root Note

This is the basic pattern for the major scale. If you were to play it exactly as it is shown in the picture, for example, you would end up with the E major scale. If you move the pattern one semitone, you will have an F major scale, and so it goes.

F major scale


The same major scale pattern, but with each step of it depicted.

2. The Major Pentatonic Scale

The Major Pentatonic Scale

Darker Dot: Root Note

The major pentatonic is similar to the major scale, except that it doesn’t have the 4th and the 7th step of the traditional one.

This scale was created so that musicians can easily improvise: no matter if you move up or down in a melody using the pentatonic, your melody will always sound pleasant. Plus, the pattern is easy to memorize.

pentatonic major scale

The pentatonic major scale pattern with each step of it depicted.

Tip: If you want to learn how to play your favorite songs on the bass guitar, knowing how to read tabs is essential. You can easily learn this skill with our How to Read Bass Guitar Tabs article. 

3. The Natural Minor Scale

Natural Minor Scale

Darker Dot: Root Note

This is the natural minor scale pattern. Notice that some steps are the same as on the major scale: you can use that to your advantage while memorizing the shapes.

Natural Minor Scale - 2

The natural minor scale steps.

4. The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

Darker Dot: Root Note

The minor pentatonic scale uses the same notes as the natural minor, but without the 2nd and 6th steps. Like it is the case with the major pentatonic, this is so musicians can jam and improvise more easily.

Minor Pentatonic Scale

The minor pentatonic scale steps.

5. The Blues Scale

The Blues Scale

Darker Dot: Root Note

The blues scale is the pentatonic minor scale with an added flattened fifth to it. You can also try employing this step on the natural minor scale. In the example of the E blues scale, we have the note A#.

The Blues Scale - 2

The blues scale steps.

Extra Tips

How To Use The Bass Scales Chart

By knowing where your root note is and what is the pattern of your desired scale, you can move these patterns up or down the fretboard. You can also divide the pattern in sections, like we also suggested below, so as to be able to mount these shapes faster.

Tips for Memorizing the Bass Scales

Here are some useful tips to help you memorize the patterns for each of the bass scales types.

  1. Memorize one string at a time.
  2. Divide the pattern in sections. For example, the first 5 frets, from the 6th to the 10th fret, etc. This will also help you when transposing the patterns to fit the key of your song.
  3. Don’t get stuck in one key only: start learning different transpositions as soon as you get to practice.
  4. Keep in mind the similarities between the different scales.
  5. Practice frequently and try to jam along backing tracks. There are thousands of those on YouTube in different scales and different keys.
  6. Last but not least, learn and memorize each of the notes on the fretboard. This will make you able to easily find your tonic while applying scale patterns to it. Read more in our Bass Guitar Notes article.
Basic Guitar Scales

Conclusion

With the bass scales charts and patterns shown in this article, you will be able to play any scale in any key you’d like by knowing the position of the tonic on the fretboard and moving the shape of the scale up or down.

While memorizing these patterns may seem hard at first, you will easily be able to if you employ them in our daily practice. Also, make sure that you learn the bass guitar notes and how the fretboard of the instrument works in our already mentioned article about the subject. We hope that this article was helpful. Make sure to bookmark this page as the charts shown here may come in handy while practicing. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions. Happy playing!