Easy Bass Major Scale Lesson

Welcome to the most important lesson for bass guitar and music theory as a whole!

The major scale is the most common scale used in Western music, and many other popular scales are derived from it.

In this bass major scale lesson you’ll learn how to construct the scale, different major scale positions, and how to move it around the bass neck.

What is a scale?

A musical scale is a sequence of notes organized using a set of intervals starting from a root note/tonic.

The scale you’ll learn in this lesson is the major scale. The major scale has seven notes, so it is called a heptatonic scale.

The most common major scale is the C major scale because all of its notes are natural!

Building a major scale

There are typically two ways you’ll construct and visualize a bass major scale:

  1. Using the major scale formula, which is the interval structure of the major scale
  2. Using whole-steps and half-steps

The major scale is built using an intervallic formula, and this formula can be looked at using a formula of whole-steps and half-steps.

Bass major scale formula and intervals

The major scale has seven scale degrees.

The major scale formula is:


As you can see, there are no sharp or flat intervals in the major scale, which makes it super easy to memorize!

Whole-step and half-step construction of the major scale

You can visualize the major scale, and any other scale by breaking it down to its whole-step and half-step construction.

The whole-step and half-step formula for the bass major scale is: W-W-H-W-W-W-H

W= Whole | H= Half

To construct a major scale this way you’ll choose a root note, then follow the whole/half-steps from the root note!

It’s that simple!

Bass major scale one octave neck positions

As long as you can play the major scale in one octave, you can play it in any other octave as well!

In order to understand major scales and bass fretboard visualization, make sure you memorize all the bass notes!

C major scale

Here’s the C major scale in one octave.

As a general rule, the C major scale is the first major scale bassists learn because all of its notes are natural!

This gives the C major scale the notes:


This means you technically know the C major scale already if you memorized all of your natural bass notes.

As you practice this major scale position, say the interval name out loud as you play it:


Doing this will give you a better understanding of how and where bass intervals move.

Here’s my complete C major scale bass lesson, which is essential learning if you want to comprehend music theory for bass.

C major scale one octave bass

G major scale

Here’s the G major scale in one octave.

As you can see, since the formula remains the same as we move root notes, the scale shape stays the same.

G major scale one octave bass

A major scale

Here’s the A major scale.

A major scale one octave bass

D major scale

Here’s the D major scale.

D major scale one octave bass

Bass major scale fretboard diagram

Here’s a complete fretboard diagram for the major scale using C major as the root note.

Practice the major scale in all positions of the fretboard, and practice the scale on a single string as well.

Bass major scale fretboard diagram in C major

Bass major scale PDF

Conclusion: Practicing the major scale for bass guitar

Now that you’ve learned the bass major scale, it’s time to put it to work.

Practice the major scale using different root notes. This will help you understand how it works across the entire fretboard.

To make practicing more fun you can use the major scale to write some tasty bass riffs. Transpose these riffs to a new root note, and the riff will now be in a new key!

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