Beginning Bass Playing – Major Scales

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,910
    Professional bassist Percy White demonstrates major scales on the bass guitar.

    Percy White

    Percy White is a professional bassist living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He is originally from Philadelphia, Pa. He started playing bass when he was 10 years old after trying unsuccessfully to play guitar. As he puts it, "It just made sense. The bass has four strings and I have four fingers to play them with." He started playing by ear but after hearing Stanley Clarke he realized that he had to take lessons and so he did. After graduating high school, he joined the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Engineering Program but his musical education also continued with his study of jazz and music theory. After serving in the military, White moved to Chicago to begin an engineering career that was short lived due to his love of music. He began taking bass lessons with Nick Schneider (former bassist for the Tonight Show Band) After playing in numerous jam sessions, he began his career as a full time musician. He played with notable jazz artists like Ramsey Lewis, Oscar Brown, Jr, Roy Ayer s, and Ronnie Laws. He has jammed with Buddy Guy at his famous blues club in Chicago. White has been a founding member of two rock bands, two blues bands, one latin/jazz band, and one contemporary jazz group. He has played for the Chicago City Colleges Jazz Band, and was a winning member of the 1996 Chicago Blues band competition. In 2000, White relocated back to the east coast to broaden his musical experiences. He shares his musical knowledge by teaching privately in the DC area. After one of his outstanding performances in DC, White was asked to audition for the 257th Army Band and he recently joined the ranks of the elite performers of the Nation's Capital Army Band. White feels it's an honor to serve his country through his musical talents and is glad to have the opportunity. Although his full time occupation is being an application engineer for a worldwide water treatment company, White can still be seen playing in the Washington, DC area at least five nights a week doing what he has been doing for the last 30 years.

    Percy White: Hi! Welcome back, my name is Percy. This is another part of the series on how to play the bass. In this segment we are going to cover scales. I know no one want to play scales, but it is an integral part of music and it is a necessary evil and I promise you if you learn your scales, you will be a much better musician. So, we are going to dive right in. Now, we have covered, how to set your bass up, how to tune it, how to hold it, how to make the notes. Now, I am going to put those notes that you know how to make to use. So, what we are going to do, is we are going to start off by playing a major scale, major scale is what everything is built off of. When you were young and you were singing, no, Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do that is a major scale, it sounds like this, okay, thats a major scale. So, I am going to show you how to play that. I am going to show you different ways of playing it and you need to know how to play it in different ways because it will give you mastery of your neck, which is important and you need to know where you are on your bass at all times, because you never know where you going to be in the middle of a song. So, each of one of your fingers gets it's own number. One, two, three and four, and correspondently in this position, I am going to show, you dont have to move your hands, so each finger gets it's own number, and each fret gets it's own finger, so example if this is number 1, I say 1 and 2 on E string then, first finger and second finger, they each get their own note and their own fret, so we are going to concentrate on the left hand first and then the right hand. So, in the left hand you are going to play a major scale and it sounds like this, dont wake me fast Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do. You have heard that when you were a kid, thats a major scale. Now, this one I am going to do in G major, which just means you are going to stop on the third fret on the E string. For those of you playing a four string bass, it is the lowest string on your bass. Okay, so the numbers are 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 1, 3, 4 and then backwards, 4, 3, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, and that is how you play a major scale. Forward, and then back ward. Thats a major scale over three strings and thats just one octave. Now, what's really important is, even after you do, you get done, you start to worry about your right hand, because its two hand instrument and as I explained earlier in the previous lesson, you want to alternate your fingers with every note, so if you start with your middle finger and as you hit the string, you just glide across the string, make it vibrate, you going to alternate each time, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4. The reason why you want to alternate your finger is so that you get used to hitting a pattern starting with a different finger. So, if you notice when I start on the E string, I start it with my middle finger, okay, so then when I go over, it will start with the first finger, so if I start 2, 4, okay, so you can alternate, alright, you want to constantly alternative your fingers and that will give you more dexterity. You want get used to alternate your fingers on your playing, Each notes gets a different finger of top, each note gets a different finger down the bottom, thats a major scale, over three strings. Next lessons, I will show you how to do a major scale over two strings and how to practice your scales.