In this Lesson, I’m going to teach you the secret to unlocking the bass fretboard. And guess what? It’s really obvious!

Unlocking The Fretboard

Many bass players want to learn how to play fluently all around the bass guitar fretboard. This usually mean working outside of the common one octave fretboard patterns we all learn when getting started.

So today we’ll look at a few exercises that should help with playing lines over the entire fretboard. You’ll improve your position shifting, your technique and your knowledge of keys.

What’s The Secret?

Learn horizontally! I know that sounds a bit obvious, but we are going to get more specific. We are going to learn lines that move through positions, in other words when you learn a scale learn it in a horizontal fashion to help you break out of that box shape.

Learn it in multiple octaves up and down the fretboard. Do this for all scales, arpeggios and lines, this will help you open things up and play with more fluency all over the neck.

G Major Scale

First things first, make sure you know all the notes within a scale. Here we will start with a simple G Major scale, this only contains one accidental which is the F#. Next, take a look at where you can move that scale around the fretboard in various positions.

Standard Major Scale Shape

This is the common shape many of you will be only too familiar with, but we are going to go beyond this with an exercise that will help you develop your fretboard fluency all over the neck in a given key.

G Major Scale Exercise

Play this lightly in the fingers and keep your hands relaxed. Don’t rush it and don’t use a metronome until you have it all under your fingers and are feeling confident. You don’t need the added stress!

There are quite a number of tricky position shifts involved so it may take some time to get used to it, take all the time you need to learn it.

C Major Scale Exercise

Now of course we are going to want to learn this in every key, this is where the really interesting thing happens. As you move through all the keys, you will come across some hurdles and you’ll need to adjust to cater for open strings and closed frets amongst other challenges.

Take a look at this same exercise which I have translated into the Key of C Major just to demonstrate how you would have to adjust your movements depending on the key.

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