How To Play Bass Octave Patterns For Beginners

2019-01-16T09:41:24+00:00July 1st, 2016|Categories: Beginner Bass Lessons|10 Comments

In this weeks lesson I’m covering the basics of the octave pattern and providing a few exercises to help you get it under your fingers.

What Is An Octave?

An Octave is a musical distance from any note to the next repetition of that note:


In the scale above, the A notes are an octave apart. There are lots of ways we can play an octave interval:

Basic Octave Patterns

For this exercise, we will be playing two C notes one octave apart. Use your index and pinky fingers to create the box shape needed to play an octave:

This exercise familiarises your ear with the sound of an octave. This is equally important as learning the fretboard pattern. To apply intervals, we need to understand how they sound:

Next we can use the same shape on a root note of G:

Disco Octaves!

This classic disco line can help with moving the pattern around the fretboard. All we are doing is moving from a D to a B and then making our way back up one fret at a time.

Begin slowly before ramping up the speed. This will help you get faster quicker. 

The octave plays an essential role in lots of bass riffs. Try to pick out and learn songs that use octaves to help you get better at recognising when and how to apply them in your own music.

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  1. Mark Mahoney July 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Great lesson as usual. Thank you again!
    In the following pattern R=Root and O=Octave; each note represents and 1/8th note.
    1 + 2+ 3+ 4+
    For this pattern would you finger the right hand 11 22 so each finger just stays on one string or alternate 12 12 or 21 21?

    Bethel, CT USA

    • Mark Smith July 2, 2016 at 8:56 am - Reply

      Thanks Mark. You should alternate your fingers for that line. Either order is fine. 1212 or 2121. It all depends on the context. It’s worth practicing both so you’re not limited by your technique.

  2. simeon July 3, 2016 at 12:44 am - Reply

    Tnks Mr mark for all your good work you have been doing here.

  3. Carson Brown September 25, 2016 at 5:42 am - Reply

    Hello Mark I am looking for a jazz bass as they are very versatile I am looking at Squier Affinity series and I was wondering if you think that is a good choice or should I look for something better?

  4. james colbert November 19, 2016 at 2:37 am - Reply

    Thanks for your style

  5. ANDRE SILVA June 2, 2017 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Greetings Mark. Thanks for your dedication.

  6. Brian Sogn February 21, 2018 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    Hey Mark. Sort of stumbled upon your site and I gotta say, it’s fantastic. Something about your style of delivery that make you very easy to follow. Cheers.

  7. amaya peele October 19, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Which bass would you’d prefer for an left hander?

  8. Mark November 7, 2018 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Hey Mark
    Just started playing at 47, kids are grown up and flown the coup and I have always wanted to be able to pick up an instrument and play. Not here to be the next Steve Harris or Cliff Burton but be good enough to not embarrass myself and have the confidence to jump in and play a couple of songs when my friends jam. Taking lessons locally and stumbled across your YouTube video for Major Scales for Beginners. There are a couple of great lessons that I have discovered, and this is one of the easiest to follow to complement my lessons. Hope to improve enough to utilize more of your lessons but one step at a time. Thanks taking the time to make the resources available for a guy like me !!
    Mark, Ontario Canada

  9. rohit aggarwal February 8, 2019 at 7:54 am - Reply

    thanks for the information

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