C Major Scale on Bass

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C Major Scale on Bass

C major is a very common key, and the C major scale is one of the first major scales you should learn. It is simple and easy, as major scales go, and used in a large number of songs and musical pieces.

The key of C major has no sharps or flats in it. In other words, the seven notes of the key are all the natural notes, the white keys on a piano. These are: C, D, E, F, G, A and B. This is a nice key for bass guitar because it includes all the open strings.

C major is the only major scale in this key, but there are scales of other modes that use the same key. A minor also uses all the natural notes, making it the relative minor of C major. If you see a piece of music with no sharps or flats in the key signature, it most likely in C major or A minor.

In this article, we'll look at how to play a C major scale in different places on the fretboard. If you haven't, you should take a look at bass scales and hand positions first.

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C Major Scale - Fourth Position

This fretboard diagram shows the first (lowest) place you can play a C major scale. This corresponds to the fourth hand position of a major scale. You start with the C at the third fret of the third string, playing it with your second finger.

Next, play the D with your fourth finger. If you want, you could also play the open D string instead. E, F, and G are played with your first, second and fourth fingers on the second string. Again, the G can be played as an open string if you choose.

On the first string, A, B, ‚Äčand the final C are played with your first, third and fourth fingers. The top C is the highest note you can play in this position, but you can play notes of the scale lower than the bottom C, down to a low G. If you shift your hand down one fret, you can hit an F with your first finger and an E using the open E string.

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C Major Scale - Fifth Position

The next position starts with your first finger over the fifth fret. This corresponds to the fifth hand position of the major scale. First, play the C at the eighth fret on the fourth string using your fourth finger. On the third string, play D, E and F with your first, third and fourth fingers.

On the second string, play G and A with your first and fourth fingers. Playing the A with your fourth finger instead of your third lets you smoothly shift your hand down a fret from where it was. Now, play the B and C on the first string with your first and second fingers.

As with the last position, the D and G can both be played as open strings. You can also reach the D above the top C as well as the B and A below the bottom C in this position.

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C Major Scale - First Position

Shift your hand up so that your first finger is over the seventh fret. This is first position. The first C is under your second finger on the fourth string.

You can play the scale here with the exact same fingerings you used for fourth position, described on page two. You can even substitute open strings for the same notes. The only difference is that now it's one string lower. You can reach the B below the first C, and all the way up to the F above the high C.

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C Major Scale - Second Position

The next position, second position, starts with your first finger on the 10th fret. Like fifth position (on page three), this one requires a shift in the middle. The G and A on the third string should be played with your first and fourth fingers, letting you smoothly move your hand back a fret as you go up.

Unlike the other positions, you can't actually play a complete C major scale from here. The only place you can reach a C is on the second string, under your second finger. You can go down to a low D and up to a high G. The low D and the G above it can both be played as open strings instead.

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C Major Scale - Third Position

The last position to describe occurs in two forms. One is up with your first finger over the 12th fret. The other is down at the low end of the fretboard, using the open strings. We'll look at that on the next page. This position corresponds to the third position of the major scale.

Like the last position, you can't actually play from C to C in this position. The lowest notes you can play are E, F, and G on the fourth string with your first, second and third fingers. The G can also be played as an open string. Next, play A, B, and C on the third string with your first, third and fourth fingers. You can keep going up to a high A on the first string.

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C Major Scale - Alternate Third Position

The other version of third position is played with your first finger over the first fret. With the frets spaced so widely here, it may be a stretch to play the third fret notes with your third finger, so feel free to use your fourth finger instead.

Here, the lowest note you can play is an E as well, but this time it is the open E string. Next, play F and G with your first and third/fourth fingers. After that, play the open A string, followed by B and C with your second and third/fourth fingers. D, E, and F are played the same way on the second string.

After playing the open G string, you can play the A with your second finger, or you can play it with your first finger to make it easier to reach the B with your fourth finger. Another option, not shown above, is to shift into fourth position (described on page two) for this string and play A, B and C with your first, third and fourth fingers.