This bass lesson covers how to play two-octave scales on the bass guitar.

When we learn scales on bass we often stick to learning the standard one octave root to octave shapes. But what if you need to learn a 2 octave scale? In this lesson from you’ll learn a two octave pattern based on the original one octave shape you already know so you can simply create other 2 octave scales on the fly without having to worry about memorising more patterns.

Two Octaves Of The C Major Scale

Knowing how to play scales over two octaves is hugely beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • It enables you to switch positions easily (good for moving up or down the neck)
  • It helps you visualise the scale across the whole of the fretboard rather than in a single position
  • Music exams often require you to play scales over two octaves

Let’s begin with a common fingering of a one-octave C major scale:

If you look at each string separately, you can see that there are different finger patterns on each of the three strings. To extend the scale, shift your hand up so that your 2nd finger lands on the C on the 10th fret of the D string. Now you can start the second octave by using the finger patterns you noticed at the beginning.

To complete the whole two-octave scale, shift positions again so that your first finger lands on the A on the 14th fret of the G string.

To recap, the position shifts are:

Between the B (3rd finger) and C (2nd finger) in the first octave
Between the G (fourth finger) and A (first finger) in the second octave

Other Two-Octave Scales

This technique can be applied to any scale if you follow these tips:

  • Isolate the position shifts
  • Know what finger you are aiming for before the shift
  • Start on the E string if you can (otherwise you will have to cram more notes onto each string, although this is ok if you have to)

Scales Starting On The A String

Playing scales on fewer strings forces you to change positions a lot more than you usually would. Try playing both versions of the C major scale starting on the A string and concentrate on figuring out the position shifts before you jump straight in.

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