In this bass guitar music theory guide we will cover major and minor arpeggios and how you can add them to your bass playing.
What is an arpeggio?
A bass guitar arpeggio is basically 3 notes of a full chord that all fit into that chord very nicely. The reason why arpeggios matter is because they will help you creatively and spice up your bass lines.
The major arpeggio follow the pattern below. The example is a C major arpeggio repeated twice. They are the exact same notes, just pick what pattern you like to play more.
The minor arpeggio follows the pattern below. The example is a C minor arpeggio with 3 different playing positions. Pick the one that is most comfortable to you (but you should know them all).
So What Now?
Now that you have the two patterns memorized for major and minor, it’s time to apply this to an actual bass line. Here is a basic, boring rock bass line:
Really boring right? Well try playing it with these arpeggios:
While it may seem like a simple thing, arpeggios are “glue” when it comes to repetitive bass lines. Sprinkle these in, but don’t go crazy. Too many arpeggios is just as bad as 0 bass guitar arpeggios.
Hopefully this article about bass guitar music theory helped you out and made you a better bass player. Please leave a comment or question below and I will get back to you shortly. Keep Playing!
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In this article I demostrate the major and minor pentatonic scale for bass guitar. The pentatonic scale is very useful for playing in the background to add “spice” to your bass riff or can even be applied to soloing very easily.
C Major Pentatonic Scale
Slowly practice this routine until you feel more comfortable playing it faster and faster. My suggestion is that you evolve into using hammer ons and pull offs to play it quicker.
The pattern is: root – whole step – whole step – 3 half steps – whole step – octave.
“3 half steps” is just a fancy way of saying 3 frets difference.
C Minor Pentatonic Scale
You can see and hear the slightly different pattern for the minor scale. Just like the major scale make sure you take it slow until you have the pattern down.
The pattern is: root - 3 half steps – whole step – whole step – 3 half steps – octave.
The Beauty of the Pentatonic Scale
The best part of the pentatonic scale is that once you learn the pattern for the major or minor scale you can play any note’s pentatonic scales. If you still don’t understand the patterns above please read the whole steps and half steps music theory post I made a month or so ago.
It means you can take the C and change it to D, E, A, C# or any other note! Pretty awesome if you ask me.
The Take Away
Hopefully this article has helped you master the major and minor pentatonic scales for bass guitar. The take away is that you will be more prepared to solo or improvise now that you have a very popular chord pattern in your pocket.
Questions? Suggestions for improvement? Please leave it in a comment below.
The first scale you need to learn on the bass guitar is the major scale. It’s a critical part of music theory and can be found in many different popular songs.
The major scale consists of a pattern of whole and half steps. The pattern is shown below:
root whole whole half whole whole whole half octave
Here is a C major scale tab
It’s pretty simple, and once you memorize the pattern you can play a major scale starting on any note you choose.
If you are curious to learn about scales, check out the wikipedia article on major and minor scales. I will do a followup article about minor scales fairly soon.
Any questions? Leave a comment below.
Hopefully you have a small amount of music theory, otherwise this article may be a little hard to follow.
A whole step is a 2 fret difference between notes. For example, C to D is a whole step. Here is the tab that represents C and D, played on the A string.
A half step is a 1 fret difference between notes. For example, B to C is a half step. Below is the tab that represents B and C, also played on the A string.
Why is this important? Because it helps you gain understanding of basic music theory and about bass guitar scales (Major, minor, chromatic, etc.).
This has been a short, simple article about music theory. If you have questions just comment below!
Understanding octaves is important and critical if you want to expand your playing “vocabulary.”
An octave is the same note with a different pitch. Start by playing the thickest string open. This is ‘E’. Now, on the second-thinnest string, hold down the 2nd fret. That is ‘E’, but one octave higher.
Here is a little background on musical notes. The musical scale includes ‘A, B flat, B, C, C sharp, D, E flat, E, F, F sharp, G, G sharp’ and then loops back to the beginning (A). It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.
The octave is important for all types of music, and is regularly found in songs that have a lot of “slapping and popping technique. For example, the “Higher Ground” remake by the Red Hot Chili Peppers has an octave based riff.
Check out the youtube video.
There are three octaves in this riff, E, G, and A. Watch the video and listen to the song, it’s a really incredible riff and the octave reinforcement makes the entire song powerful.
Still unclear? Leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it.