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Bass Guitar Tips #2 * The Major Scale
By Scott Morris - 07/22/2009 - 01:00 PM EDT

Bass Guitar Scales Primer Lesson

If you are serious about playing the bass guitar, the one thing that you'll want to know is scales and theory. Which scales are most commonly used for which styles of music, and how to apply those scales. This lesson article will be followed by a  series of lesson articles that will be devoted to learning the most commonly used scales.

Scales are built upon formulas using whole steps (w) which is referred to as the distance of 2 frets and half steps (1/2) which is referred to as the distance of 1 fret.

All scale formulas are based upon the major scale.  The actual major scale is also referred to as a "diatonic" scale (dia=8 / tonic=notes) or, an 8 note scale.

There are 7 additional scales inside of the major scale that are referred to as modes. The first mode (the actual C major scale) is referred to as the "Ionian" mode.


The formula for a major scale, is whole step, whole step, half step...

whole step, whole step, whole step, half step.

You can start with any note on the neck of the bass guitar, and by using this formula, you will have a major scale.

For example, here is C major diatonic scale shown in tablature, which identifies the steps, whole step... by using the symbol "w" and half steps, by using the symbol "1/2"

Click this link to download this bass tablature

Now that you've learned the major scale, you may have said to yourself...

"That sounded familiar"?

If so, that's because the major scale is the first thing that most all school bands are taught, and many beginner musician's learn first and are taught as the "do re me" scale,

Or in it's entirety...

do re me fa so la te do.

Here's an additional example, showing the names of the notes played in C major diatonic scale.

C    D    E    F    G    A    B    C
do  re   me  fa   so   la    te   do

Now that you have learned what the major diatonic scale is, and how it was built using the formula of whole steps and half steps, here are a few other very important things to learn about the major scale.

1) How to play any major diatonic scale, by using this formula.

2) Enforcing the 1 finger per fret rule.

3) The most common position's that the major scale is played in.

Click this link to download this bass tablature

This should help provide you with some insight on the major diatonic scale.

Stay tuned for lesson article 3.

Kind Regards,
Scott Morris - CEO - You Can Play Guitar

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