Major scale fingerings

Hi guys, and welcome back to another bass technique lesson. 

 

In this one we will study the first and most important scale you’ll ever learn: the major scale,  and we will check, specifically, some of the fingerings available on the lower octave of the electric bass. 

Music notation for the C major scale

ascending

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descending 

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From a merely technical standpoint, it is important for you to know how to play the major scale on the electric bass using different fingerings. As a general rule, practicing different fingerings for scales or arpeggios is greatly beneficial either for your technique as well for your fretboard knowledge. In fact, knowing different fingering options will help you to achieve more confidence on your instrument. 

 

Also, if you pay close attention to the sound, the same note played on a different string sound slightly different. So, let’s check our options to play the C major scale on the lower octave of the electric bass, and remember that the following same fingerings can be used for other key signatures, just by moving one or more frets up or down over your fretboard.

Major scale positions on 3 strings (A, D and G).

 

Fingering 1

Let’s start from the most common position, middle finger on the third fret of the A string, the C note, pinky on the D, same string. On the D string you’ll play E, F and G respectively with index, middle and pinky, and on the G string you will play the A, B and C with index, middle and pinky respectively.  

For the descending scale, just reverse what you just played.

Fingering 2

Given that there are countless possibilities, let’s check a second fingering: index on the C of the A string, ring playing D and, pinky on the E, same string. Disclaimer: depending on the extension of your left hand hand, you might be able to play E without moving the position of your left hand. Otherwise, move your left hand enough to reach the E note on the A string. As we will see next, the same can be said for the fingering on the D string.

On the D string you’ll play F, G and A with the same fingering, and then on the G string you will play B and C with ring and pinky respectively. Reverse what you just played for the descending scale.

Major scale on 4 strings

 

In this and the following major scale fingerings we will move our left hand to different positions in order to complete the scale: I call these ones broken major scales. Specifically, in the following one we will employ all four strings. 

 

With your pinky you’ll play the first note of the major scale (C on the E string), and then move on the A string, playing respectively with your index, ring and pinky D, E and F. Now move to the D string to play G and A with index and ring, and then move to the G string for the B and C notes with index and middle. Reverse what you just played for the descending scale.

Major scale on 2 strings (A and D)

 

In this case, we will play the major scale on the A and D strings, starting with our middle finger on the C note of the A string, followed by the pinky on the D. Next, we will play, on the D string, E with the index, F with the middle and G with the pinky. Move your left hand one position down, and play on the same string the A note with the index, B with the ring and C with the pinky.

Major scale on 1 string (A)

 

As you might have noticed, the major scale (same can be said for all other scales) can have a wide array of possibilities when it comes about fingerings. This next exercise is built only on one string. Therefore, I consider this the hardest one, since you will have to move from the top to the bottom of the fretboard in order to complete the scale. Let’s see how we can do it.

 

Having as a reference a C major scale on the A string, you can play C and D with index and ring, then move to play E, F and G with index, ring and pinky, and move again to play A, B and C with index, ring and pinky. Reverse what you just played for the descending scale.

Thank you for reading and happy practice!  

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