Bass Scales - Minor Scale

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Bass Scales - Minor Scale

bass guitar
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One of the most common scales you will encounter is the minor scale. It has a moody or sad character, and is used in most music that doesn't convey happy or uplifting feelings. There are several variations of minor scales, including harmonic minor and melodic minor. Here, we will only look at natural minor scale.

The natural minor scale is the same basic pattern of notes as the major scale, only the root of the scale is in a different place in the pattern. Every minor scale has a relative major scale, with the same notes but a different starting place.

This article will help you learn the hand positions you use to play any minor scale. You should review bass scales and hand positions first if you are not familiar with them.

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Minor Scale - Position 1

The fretboard diagram above shows the first position of a minor scale. Find the root of the scale you wish to play on the fourth string, and put your first finger down on that fret. In this position, you can also play the root on the second string with your third finger.

To play on the first string, shift your hand back one fret to access the extra note. The second string can also be played like this if you wish.

Notice that the notes of the scale make an upside-down "L" shape on the left and "b" shape on the right. These shapes are a great way to remember the finger patterns for each position.

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Minor Scale - Position 2

To reach second position, shift your hand up two frets from first position (or three, if you were playing on the first string). Here, the "b" shape is on the left and a "q" shape is on the right.

The root can be reached with your first finger on the second string.

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Minor Scale - Position 3

Shift your hand up two frets to get to third position. Like second position, the root can only be played in one place, on the third string with your fourth finger. The "q" shape is now on the left, and on the right is an "L" shape.

Third position is like first position in that it covers five frets. You need to shift your hand up one fret to play all the notes on the fourth string. The third string can be played both ways.

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Minor Scale - Position 4

Fourth position is three frets higher than third position (or two frets higher if you were playing on the fourth string). In this position the root can be played in two places. One is on the third string with your first finger, and the other is on the first string with your third finger.

The "L" shape from third position is on the left now, and on the right is a shape similar to a natural sign.

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Minor Scale - Position 5

The final position is located two frets higher than fourth position, or three frets lower than first position. On the left is the shape from the right side of fourth position, and on the right is the upside-down "L" from first position.

In this position, you can play the root with your fourth finger on the fourth string, or with your first finger on the first string.

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Bass Scales - Minor Scale

When you practice the scale, make sure to practice it in all five positions. Keeping an even tempo, start at the root and play down the scale to the lowest note of the position, then back up. Then, go up to the highest note and back down.

Once you have each position down, play two octave scales, so you have to shift between them. Play the scale up and down the whole length of the fretboard, or just practice soloing in it.

When you have learned this scale, you will have an easy time learning a major scale or a minor pentatonic scale.