Bass scales

Scales for bass guitar with diagrams and explanation.
What follows is a guide trough different scale categories for bass players. The fingerboard diagrams are based on standard tuning (EADG). See other tunings for 5-string bass below.

Major

The Major scale is the most important in Western music and a good start when you begin learn scales on bass.

One-octave pattern, root on 3rd string

The fingerboard diagram below shows a C Major scale with the first root note on 3rd string. The scale is movable and can be used for all Major scales.

C Major scale diagram

C Major scale tablature.

C Major scale tab

The numbers above the tablature are suggested fingerings.

One-octave pattern, root on 4th string

It is, however, good to use more than one scale position. The diagram below shows a G Major with the first root on 4th string.

G Major scale diagram

G Major scale tablature.

G Major scale tab

The numbers above the tablature are suggested fingerings.

Minor

The Minor scale is next to Major the most important and fundamental knowledge in music.

One-octave pattern, root on 3rd string

The fingerboard diagram below shows a D Minor scale with the first root note on 3rd string. The scale is movable and can be used for all Minor scales.

D minor scale diagram

D Minor scale tablature.

D minor scale tab

The numbers above the tablature are suggested fingerings.

One-octave pattern, root on 4th string

As mention earlier, it is good to use more than one scale position. The diagram below shows an A Minor with the first root on 4th string.

A minor scale diagram

A Minor scale tablature.

A minor scale tab

The numbers above the tablature are suggested fingerings.

5-string bass

The 5-string bass is relatively common and there are two standard tunings: BEADG and EADGC.

Major scale in BEADG tuning

The fingerboard diagram below shows a C Major scale for one octave with a three notes per string shape. The scale is movable and can be used for all Major scales.

C Major scale diagram 5-stringed bass

Major scale in EADGC tuning

The fingerboard diagram below shows a C Major scale for one octave with the first root note on 4th string. The scale is movable and can be used for all Major scales.

C Major scale diagram 5-stringed bass