- Basic scales for electric bass

Basic Scales for Bass Guitar

Scales are important for a few different reasons

  • They build strength and independence in your fingers.
  • Playing scales helps to train you ears to recognize some common note combinations.
  • They can be used as note choices in bass line construction, improvisation and writing of music.

The following five basic scale shapes should be memorized and played daily. They should be played in all positions, but a good place to start is around the 5th fret. Try to use the scales in your playing as soon as possible, writing or improvising bass lines out of them.

The major scale should be one of the first scales that you learn. Besides being a good warm up and technique builder, the major scale will be the starting point for all theory. Play the scale going up and down keeping as steady of a beat as possible.

You can also play any one of these scale forms starting on the 3rd string instead of the 4th.

See the scale primer for how to read these scale charts.


major scale

Major Pentatonic

major pentaonic scale


minor scale


Minor Pentatonic

minor pentatonic scale


blues scale


Page 2, Extending the basic scale forms

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