This week we’re going to take a look at Pentatonic Scales and a simple approach for playing up and down the fretboard rather than across the fretboard.

The Major Pentatonic Scale

As a refresher, to build a major pentatonic scale just take a major scale and remove the 4th and 7th.

  • C Major Scale: C D E F G A B
  • C Major Pentatonic: C D E G A 

Two String Sets

One of the biggest problems we face as bass players is addressing scales up and down the neck instead of across the fretboard. The key is to switch your focus from three strings, to two strings.

For these examples we’ll use the D Major Pentatonic scale to provide a little more real estate up and down the fretboard:

If we break the Major Pentatonic down into smaller subsets occupying only 2 strings at any one time we find the following cells:

Cell #1:

Cell #2:

Cell #3:

Cell #4:

Cell #5:

These cells can be repeated both above and below those specified. They can also be played on other 2 string combinations such as the E/A string and D/G string.

Practice Tip: 

We can incorporate these cells into our practice by playing them as fills around a basic riff:

Practice Track 88bpm:

Practice Track 98bpm:

Fills can be played as shown in the video. Below is an example of a fill in the second half of the bar:

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