Major Pentatonic Scale on Bass

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Major Pentatonic Scale on Bass

The major pentatonic scale is an excellent scale to learn. Not only is it simple, but it is also very useful for bass lines and solos in major keys. It should be one of the first bass scales you tackle.

What is a Major Pentatonic Scale?

Unlike a traditional major or minor scale, a major pentatonic scale has five notes, rather than seven. Basically, it is a major scale with some of the trickier notes omitted, making it more difficult to play something that sounds wrong. Plus, it makes the scale easier to learn.

This article goes over the pattern of a major pentatonic scale in different hand positions on the fretboard. If you haven't read about bass scales and hand positions, you should do so first.

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Major Pentatonic Scale - Position 1

The fretboard diagram above shows the first position of a major pentatonic scale. This is the position in which the root is the lowest note of the scale you can play. Find the root of the scale on the fourth string and put your second finger on that fret. In this position, the root of the scale can also be played on the second string with your fourth finger.

Notice the symmetrical shape the notes of the scale make. On the left is a line of three notes and a fourth one fret higher, and on the right is the same shape rotated 180 degrees. Remembering these shapes is a great way to memorize the fingering patterns.

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Major Pentatonic Scale - Position 2

To get to the second position, slide your hand up two frets. Now the shape from the right side of first position is on the left side, and on the right is a vertical line of notes that you play with your fourth finger.

There is only one place here where you can play the root. It is on the second string, using your second finger.

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Major Pentatonic Scale on Bass - Position 3

The third position of a major pentatonic scale is three frets higher than the second. Again, you can only play the root in one place. This time, it is under your fourth finger on the third string.

The vertical line of notes from the right side of second position is now on the left, and on the right is a jagged line, with two notes under your third finger and two notes under your fourth.

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Major Pentatonic Scale - Position 4

Slide up two more frets from third position and you are in fourth position. Now, the jagged line of notes is on the left and on the right is a vertical line.

Here, there are two places where you can play the root. One is on the third string with your second finger, and the other is on the first string with your fourth finger.

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Major Pentatonic Scale - Position 5

Finally, we come to the fifth position. This position is three frets higher than fourth position, and two frets lower than first position. On the left is the vertical line from fourth position, and on the right is the shape from the left side of first position.

The root of the scale can be played with your first finger on the first string, or with your fourth finger on the fourth string.

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Major Pentatonic Scale on Bass

Try playing the scale in all five positions. Start on the root, wherever it is located in each position, and play down to the lowest note of the position, then back up again. Then, play up to the highest note and back down to the root. Keep a steady rhythm.

After playing the scale in each position, try shifting between positions as you play. Make up licks, or just play a solo. The major pentatonic scale is great for playing in any major key, or over a major chord in a song. After learning this scale, the minor pentatonic and major scales will be a breeze.

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Your Citation
Porter, James. "Major Pentatonic Scale on Bass." ThoughtCo, Apr. 28, 2014, thoughtco.com/major-pentatonic-scale-bass-1711812. Porter, James. (2014, April 28). Major Pentatonic Scale on Bass. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/major-pentatonic-scale-bass-1711812 Porter, James. "Major Pentatonic Scale on Bass." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/major-pentatonic-scale-bass-1711812 (accessed November 22, 2017).