How to Play a Two Octave Major Scale on the Bass

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 25,792
    Professional bassist Percy White demonstrates how to play a two octave major sacle 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, I am Percy and this is the bass playing series. In this segment I am going to show you how to play a major scale over two octaves. Now, whenever you practice your bass and you practice your scales, you always want to play it over two octaves because that gives you a wide range of notes to practice. So, and I am going to show you how to play that, and basically what you are doing is you are combining two techniques. You are combining a three string major scale with a two string major scale to cover two octaves, and I am wondering about my octaves now because most people only play a four string bass, this one has a six string and I would cover more octaves but we are not going to get into that, we are just going to stick with the basics and we are going to play a G major scale from low G, to octave G and we are going to cover all these frets, over four strings, two octaves. It's going to start out. We are going to do this two different ways. First we are going to start out with a three string pattern which is 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 1, 3, 4 and then we are going to combine that with a two string pattern which is 1, slide, 3, 4, 1, slide, 1, 3, 4 and that will get us from here to here. Now, it's very important to know these original two string patterns and three string patterns because they will set you up to play this fluidly, and once you have the notes under your belt, then you will be able to play it however you want to play it to accomplish the same task. So, I will show you what it looks like, and Ill play it backwards. Now, I will explain it. That is playing a two octave major scale starting with the three string followed by two string scale. Also you can do it starting with the two string octave scale followed by a three string. For example; both times, all the notes are exactly alike, but you just play them in different positions. This allows you to get fluid of motion. Ill show you how to play that. So we are going to do a three string followed by a two string, three string major scale. Now, you want to continue that with a two string major scale, but there is a difference here. You have to switch positions. Now, if you notice if you are going to play a two string major scale, the fingering is 1 and then slide 1, then 3, 4, 1, slide 1, 3 and 4, but when you end a three string major scale, you end it with your pinky. So, ideally with a two string major scale, you would take the first note with your first finger and then slide and hit the second note with your first finger, but since you already have a note, thats being struck with your pinky, all you have to do is to hit the second note, is to slide your hand to position and switch fingers. So, after you finish your three string major scale, slide and switch, and now you are already set up to continue with the two string major scale, and playing backwards is the same thing. Now, doing it with the two string followed by a three string, two string major scale, 1, slide 1, 3, 4, 1, slide 1, 3, 4. Now, ideally to do a three string major scale, you will start with your second finger and then go to you fourth finger, but your fourth finger is already being used, so all you really have to do is just for the second note of that three string major scale, just slide your finger into position, and then your finger is already setup to continue the pattern and then going backwards is the same thing. That is how you play a major scale over two octaves using a two string pattern followed by a three string pattern or a three string pattern followed by a two string pattern.