Scales – Part One, Pentatonic Major and Minor

There are lots of treatises and scholarly writings available about the subject of scales. I have a slightly different approach to introducing scales to students. I always start with the most basic scales for bass guitar, begining with Pentatonic scales.

Pentatonic is a is a combination word derived from pent, latin for five and tonic, latin for tonal. A pentatonic scale is a five note scale, often related to the five black keys of a piano. For our purposes, we are going to use the pentatonic scale derived from leaving out each third note. In the key of G, the major pentatonic scale is G, A, B, D, E and G at the octave above. In much rock music and considerable jazz, pentatonic scales are very common. The exercise below is a simple layout of scale notes and then a quick exercise in the scale. The exercise should be done slowly at first, increasing metronome speed until it is comfortable at 120 beats per minute and then switch to 16th notes following the same increasing beat pattern.

Remember the above exercise is just the G to G scale. We can add two more notes on the G string giving us more notes without having to shift.

Now we have eight notes in one position which can be played without shifting. Now some standard variations on the scale:

The next step is the Minor Pentatonic:

That covers the basics of Pentatonic Scales. Practice them well, going for clean, even rhythm. The Next installment will use musical examples including audio tracks for practice.


About Dwight Mabe

I've playing music since the age of 5...a really, really long time. I've been teaching bass guitar and double bass for over 30 years, writing about music and bass guitar for nearly as long.
This entry was posted in Basics, Chords, Music Theory, Scales and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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