Practice is important. Bass scales are important. That being said, it should be quite obvious that the two go hand in hand.
However obvious it may be, guitarists tend to overlook both the importance of practicing scales and the importance of practicing scale application.
Every time you play your guitar, believe it or not, you are following some form of scale. Usually, this consists of chromatics for the guitarists who like to try and play every note on the fret board.
This isn’t bad; chromatic scales on bass guitar are great. But practicing all of your scales will not only help you to become a better player, but they will also round out your sound and style.
Well first off, if you are just playing the scales up and down as if they were some sort of chore, then you are missing out on some dire lessons. Practicing scales can help you to train your ear as well.
Great, now the work load is doubled, right?
No. Training your ear simply involves singing the notes of the scales while you play them. Bass guitars are low, so this means you won’t be able to hit all of the notes dead on. That’s okay; an octave of the note C is still the note C. This means that C4 and C5 are still the same note –they’re both C.
Let’s take the C Major scale for example. If you were to play the C Major scale, which is the most basic of the Major scales as it has absolutely no accidental notes, you would have the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.
This means that on your bass neck, you would be playing a pattern from, you guessed it, C to C without any accidentals in between.
Singing the notes as you play them will not only help you with ear training, it will also help you to recognize note properties. As stated before, a C is a C, is a C. This goes for note recognition. If you can recognize a C on your low E string, you can recognize a C on your G string as well. This will make learning songs easier.
The only downside is that the only way to properly learn your bass scales is through repetition; this means you will have to play and sing over and over again.
However, the best thing to do is learn a single scale at a time. Then, when you know the scale by ear as well as heart, use it; start improvising in the learned scale. Playing within a key that has taken you a chunk of time to learn is not only rewarding, but it also teaches you more about the scales, as well as how to improvise in a given key.
All in all, as we stated before, practicing scales doesn’t have to be all work and no play. As embarrassing as it may seem at first to sing along to your notes, don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to train your ear with practicing bass guitar scales; it will be an invaluable tool later on in your playing career.
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