Music Theory For Bass Guitar – Intervals Part 3

2017-10-26T14:30:57+00:00October 11th, 2013|Categories: Music Theory For Bass Guitar|32 Comments

This is the 3rd lesson covering the most basic building blocks of music and music theory: Intervals. This part covers alternative fingerings, interval inversion and some tips on how to use them in viewing the music you play.

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  1. Sam October 14, 2013 at 1:06 am - Reply

    Thanks for these videos. I have about 12 years of bass-playing under my belt, but I never learned any theory ’cause I wasn’t interested when I was younger. Now that I am, I’m very glad for this resource, and I’ll be staying tuned for future lessons.

    • admin October 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

      Thanks a lot. There will be a few coming up in the following weeks.

  2. BullHorn April 1, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Similar to Sam, I’ve been playing bass for a long time, 8 years actually. I’ve made some bad decision and didn’t go to a teacher and relied on material I found online. As it turned out, most of it was pretty bad and I never learned ANYTHING. I’ve also been trying to learn from stickies on talkbass and other YouTubers but always felt like I’m not getting anywhere.

    I’m so excited to say that yours video changed that! I’d like to quote you from the 1st Interval video:
    “It’s much easier to learn something when you know that its just a succession of building blocks that you’ve already learned as opposed to a long string of unrelated notes. That can turn into a memory feat just like learning Pi to 200 decimal places.” That is exactly how I felt for 8 years, trying to memorize the wrong things.

    Thank you so much, please keep making these awesome lessons!

    • admin April 1, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks a lot. Good to know people are digging these lessons.

    • Antonio Carnevale March 12, 2015 at 4:13 pm - Reply


  3. ben April 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Great lesson and a very good explanation again.

    I would say: keep the vids coming I love to watch them and you always learn something.

    Thank you very much indeed

  4. Bjorn July 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Very clear and concise. I love your style. I have played for many years but when I listen to you, things finally “click” in my mind. I will be forever grateful to you for that.

  5. Pete August 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Hey Mark,

    No need to wonder if your efforts here have been useful. The answer is “without a doubt’. I’ve only been playing bass for about a year but decided early on that I wanted to be able to read music and understand at least the basics of theory, in addition to playing songs. There are many excellent online resources out there (many originating in the UK, must be something in the water that produces high quality bass players) and I’ve looked at their content before. I’ve read quite a few books and tried a few software programs but none of it clicked for me. Your approach changed all that. The light has come on and some form of useful understanding is dawning. I truly appreciate your efforts and hope you continue. Thanks

  6. james reaves August 22, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    your teaching are are great scotts base lessons is your only compatition

  7. Romeo August 27, 2014 at 2:21 am - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Great lesson and a very good explanation. I’ve learned a lot Mark.
    I have a request Mark, can you put a subtitle so that I can understand very well. Thank you

  8. Romeo August 27, 2014 at 2:30 am - Reply

    Hi Mark,
    Great lesson and a very good explanation. I’ve learned a lot Mark.
    I have a request Mark, can you put a subtitle so that I can understand very well. Thank you

  9. joshua August 29, 2014 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Very usefull and am very thankfull , I have qustion how do u set tone in the bass

  10. Shane November 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Scott- First, I love this series! I think you summed me up in one of your videos. I can play patterns, play quickly, have good technique, etc. but I never learned music. Therefore I can’t improvise lines of chord changes, can’t construct walking lines, etc. etc. I am basically stuck mimicking other peoples music. This site is the first place I have really seen a comprehensive approach to theory and the “building blocks” of music. I can’t wait to work through the rest of the series.

    I’m wondering if I can move on to the next lesson if I haven’t completely memorized and internalized the interval, inversions. I understand the concept, but it’s a lot to grab on to. Am I safe moving on in hopes that these will begin to become clearer as I progress or would you recommend spending more time on the interval exercises before moving on?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Shane November 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm - Reply


    • Mark December 1, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

      Thanks Shane. Yes you can move onto the next episode in the series. As long as you understand the basic concept behind intervals then the other stuff should make sense. The best way to approach the lessons is to move through them at whatever pace you feel like and if you run into problems just go back over the appropriate material.

  11. Dan December 5, 2014 at 12:13 am - Reply


    Seems you have an army of semi experienced players!

    Are ther any print offs for this lesson?

  12. Nik January 2, 2015 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you for not trying to break it down instead just giving all the detail. I know I won’t get it all the 1st time but exposure is important and I’m trying to keep in mind the kind of learning that happens when you’re a kid. Understanding doesn’t happen start away but the more exposure and practise had the more understanding begins to develop.

  13. Pierre Quetant January 11, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    Thanks a lot for your classes, they are what I was looking for for a long time! As many, never spent too much time on teory because of the lack of teachers in my area… such a shame that my currency makes your Skype’s lesson unaffordable!

    One thought I’d like to share: i don’t know how you planned your “business model”, but it’s not as complicated as it looks to insert your video in an flash or SCORM environment that would allow you to complete the video by interactives exercises, quizzes, … , or to build a whole interactive module that you could sell instead of a simply “book” or .pdf completed by audio, and be a huge difrencial to you fellow competitors 😀

    Thanks again, i wish you all the best for 2015!

  14. Kevin Guhl January 11, 2015 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark, I’m doubling back and reviewing this lesson. There’s good content here, but is there a chart available? There is no lesson material attached to this video. The videos are great, although the charts of your material really helps solidify the concepts and gives offline review.

  15. Giovanni Meza April 25, 2015 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Thanks, really good lesson material.

  16. Brad Johnson August 30, 2015 at 5:33 am - Reply

    These lessons are GREAT. It really knocks the rust off my theory from high school.

  17. Shane Styles September 2, 2015 at 2:16 am - Reply

    Great explanation but for me more importantly these interval lessons.. Expand on my understanding provided through your basic fundamentals course fantastically.. Thanks again…you’ve nailed it!

  18. gulab September 17, 2015 at 8:21 am - Reply

    m trying …thanks

  19. Anthony Fowler November 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks, this have been very helpful. The best lesson I had since trying to learn Interval.

  20. david trawick April 23, 2016 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Mark, You always do a great job. Thanks so much. There is just alot of practicing and really thinking about the interval I am playing, and what key signature I’m playing. So use to playing by ear though I have picked up alot through the years. What is hard for me is like….when jamming. When I think about what scale I am playing…I stay in that scale and always go back to the root note too often as if everything is a fill except when I hit the root note. I have played 6 string rhythm for years but just never have been able to solidy my understanding. Your lessons help very much. I need so tracks for instance (play a chord progression from a key). That is what gets me….Stuff is tough….For instance why does F,G,C, Am….sound good. Why Am instead of an A? I saw a lesson that talked about intervals and it would say, mj, mn,mn, dom, min ,mj…..Something like that. Why? I just don’t understand why. 🙁 I have an extensive math background…..which music is FILLED with, The math back ground doesn’t seem to be helping…But your lessons do. thanks for all the time you put in to sharing your hard work. Wish more would share lessons and do so as clearly as you do. Always very well recorded with both hands being shown for the student to see. Thanks.

  21. david jones May 21, 2016 at 11:41 am - Reply

    These lessons are excellent thank you.They are on a par with justinguitar ref the 6string which is high praise indeed.

  22. Milad Gypsy December 10, 2016 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t find the backing track.

  23. Warren Blackwell December 27, 2016 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Mark , I just have to diddo BullHorn . I am so glad my first experience in learning bass started with a.k.a. Mark J. Smith. You make me want to move to the UK. I dont see that you do anymore skype lessons as I would be more than willing to take you up on it. It has only been two weeks and I am still crawling, but feel like I will eventually walk, and goal is to run in 6 months to a year, not sure if that is realistic but I am going to give it a shot. I am retired so I have the time, and do pick up the bass at least two-4 hours a day. so keep it coming. thanks for your efforts and YOU are very much appreciated.

  24. Keith Marcion October 5, 2017 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Hello Mark, I have a Fender Jazz MM, thinking of getting a 5 string bass. Can you suggest a few good ones under $1200 USD.
    Great lessons. I have just started playing in church and I appreciate your lesson. I think I will be a member as a way to support
    your generosity.

    Many thanks

  25. Ronald Coley February 26, 2018 at 2:52 am - Reply

    Awesome material !! Played trombone 50 years ago, but always love the bass. I purchased a bass last Christmas and took a couple of lessons to make sure I was headed in the right direction. I’m glad I did, but your lessons provide and excellent curriculum. I’m inspired to put in the work!

  26. Wilfred Verbeek November 7, 2018 at 8:35 pm - Reply


    i found youre site this week very handy and great stuf.
    i understand the concept of invertion and scale degree up until i think now
    one is tone distance the other finger distance.

    and if you work above the root its just flipped in numbers still a bit a wobble in my mind lets see if i can learn it

    great job

    greetz wilfred

  27. Jack Pollard February 8, 2019 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for making these videos. I just got my first bass about 3 weeks ago and I quickly discovered your youtube videos and since signing up for the website I have been familiarizing myself with the fundamentals. Now that I have a good feeling for my instrument I am very exited to continue watching your content, and I will tell any bass player I meet I owe it all to you. Keep on filling the world with music.

    Thank you

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