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The bass guitar is a rhythm section instrument that can be played as an acoustic or an electric. Bass is found in every kind of musical genre, and while its function is primarily that of a rhythm section instrument, many great bass players have pushed its limits by bringing the bass guitar upfront as well.
Music theory for bass isn’t any different than music theory for the guitar. This includes the theory of scale building, chord construction, and exercises. Many of the same techniques used in playing guitar can be applied to bass guitar as well.
This first example shows the range of the bass guitar. Electric bass and double bas have the same range.
Bass guitar scales are the same as scales for piano, electric guitar, etc, so a bass guitar scales chart will show the same notes and key signatures as scales for any other instrument, except that the scales will be written on the bass clef, shown below.
Take a look at the bass guitar scales chart in the following example. This shows the major scales. To find the minor scales, all you need to do is start on the sixth note of the major scale and play from that note to the octave, same as for scales on guitar.
Just like a guitar, there are plenty of exercises you can play to help you memorize scales on the bass guitar. One way is to learn the bass guitar scale positions on the fretboard. Plotting scales out in as many positions and playing them not only facilitates memory of the note positions, but it also helps strengthen your fingers.
The last example here is a scale exercise designed for establishing a great picking style. The example is in sixteenth notes and requires precision playing. Great exercise.
There are plenty of websites and video sites that offer free scale exercises that you can use to increase your knowledge of bass guitar scales. You can get a bass guitar scales chart from any of these websites, as well as a range of exercises to apply them to. It’s a great, inexpensive way to further your skills and develop a playing style of your own.
If you like to play bass guitar, I recommend you to check out some of our best bass courses in DVD: