D Major Scale on Bass

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D Major Scale on Bass

The D major scale is one of the first major scales you should learn. D major is a very common key choice for songs, and is often the first scale taught to string instrument players.

The key of D major has two sharps. The notes of the D major scale are D, E, F♯, G, A, B and C♯. All the open strings are part of the key and one of them is the root, making it nice for bass guitar.

If you learn the D major scale, you've learned the notes of some other scales as well (the modes of the D major scale). Most importantly, the B minor scale uses the same notes, making it the relative minor of D major. A song whose key signature has two sharps is most likely in D major or B minor.

In this article we will look at how to play a D major scale in various places on the fretboard. If you haven't already, you should read a little about bass scales and hand positions first.

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D Major Scale - Fourth Position

The lowest place on the fretboard you can play a D major scale is with your hand placed so that your first finger is over the fourth fret, as shown in the above fretboard diagram. This corresponds to the fourth position of the major scale. Start the scale by playing D and E with your second and fourth fingers on the third string. You can also use an open string for the D.

Next, play F♯, G and A using your first, second and fourth fingers on the second string. Like the first D, the G can also be played as an open string. After that, play B, C♯ and D using your first, third and fourth fingers on the first string.

You can also reach some notes of the scale below the first D, going down to a low A. That A can be played as an open string as well.

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D Major Scale - Fifth Position

To get to the next position, move your hand up so that your first finger is over the seventh fret. This is actually fifth position in the hand positions of the major scale. Start by playing D on the fourth string with your fourth finger, or using the open D string.

On the third string, play E, F♯ and G using your first, third and fourth fingers. The G can alternatively by played as an open string. On the second string, play A and B using your first and fourth fingers. You play the B with your fourth finger so that you can smoothly shift your hand back one fret. On the first string, finish the scale by playing C♯ and D with your first and second fingers.

If you don't want to have to shift in the middle, you can play the whole scale with your first finger over the sixth fret by using the open strings. Start by playing the open D string, then play E and F♯ using your second and fourth fingers. Next, play the open G string, followed by A and B with your second and fourth fingers, and finish the scale the same way as before.

In this position, you can also play the E above the top D, or the C♯ and B below the bottom D. You can play the A below that using the open A string.

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D Major Scale - First Position

Shift your hand up so that your first finger is over the ninth fret. This is first position for the D major scale. Start the scale by playing D either with your second finger on the fourth string or with the open D string. Next, play E with your fourth finger.

On the third string, continue with F♯, G and A using your first, second and fourth fingers. The G can also be played as an open string. Play B, C♯ and the final D on the second string, using your first, third and fourth fingers.

You can continue the scale going up to a high G. Also in reach is the C♯ below the first D.

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D Major Scale - Second Position

If you put your first finger over the 12th fret, you're in second position. In this position you can't play the whole scale from D to D. The lowest note you can play is an E using your first finger on the fourth string.

Play F♯ and G using your third and fourth fingers, then play A on the third string with your first finger. For the B, use your fourth finger instead of your third, so you can smoothly move your hand back one fret, just like in fifth position (on page three). Now, play C♯ and D on the second string with your first and second fingers. If you keep going, you can get up to a high A on the first string.

As in fifth position, you can avoid the shift by using open strings. With your first finger over the 11th fret, play the bottom E and F♯ with your second and fourth fingers. Next, play the open G string, followed by A and B with your second and fourth fingers on the third string. The rest is unchanged.

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D Major Scale - Third Position

The final position to discuss for the D major scale is actually down below where we started. Put your first finger on the second fret. This is third position. Like second position, you can't play the whole scale from a low D to a high D.

Start with F♯, G and A on the fourth string using your first, second and fourth fingers (you can play the open E string before these if you want to start one note lower). Next, play B, C♯ and D on the third string with your first, third and fourth fingers.

If you want to keep going, use your first, third and fourth fingers on the second string to play E, F♯ and G, then play A and B on the first string with your first and third fingers.

You can also play the low A, D and G using open strings, allowing you to avoid using the fifth fret at all. Then, if you find that it is a stretch to reach the fourth fret with your third finger, use your idle fourth finger instead.

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Your Citation
Porter, James. "D Major Scale on Bass." ThoughtCo, Feb. 18, 2016, thoughtco.com/d-major-scale-bass-1711823. Porter, James. (2016, February 18). D Major Scale on Bass. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/d-major-scale-bass-1711823 Porter, James. "D Major Scale on Bass." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/d-major-scale-bass-1711823 (accessed September 20, 2017).