I’d first like to thank you all for making this blog such a success. In the course of 2 months these lessons have been in over 70 countries, reached 3,000 people and have had 10,000 documented downloads. I say documented, because I can’t get stats from my Dropbox. So, THANK YOU again, and I hope these lessons have helped your understanding of music, if not your actual playing. Before you go on, if you haven’t already liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter, please do so. Throughout the week, more material, such as corresponding chord tones just may be dropped. On to the fun stuff!!!

The Phrygian mode sounds really cool. There’s no getting around it, but if you’ve ever played a simple major scale then you’ve played the Phrygian Mode. The Phrygian Mode begins on the third note of the Major Scale. In past lessons I have switched back and forth between saying Major Scale and Ionian Mode, because they are the same thing. Ionian is the first mode in the Major Scale, Dorian is the second, and Phrygian is the third.


Before we go any further I must direct you over to the Dropbox Folder Phrygian containing the flash cards and audio tracks for this lesson. There is an audio track for getting an ear for the scale and to play along to, as well a track containing a groove to play along to.

We have been traversing the C Major Scale in order to learn the modes thus far. The C Major Scale contains no flats or sharps, which makes it ideal. Always remember that in any key you can play these modes. If we were in G major (Ionian) we would play A Dorian and B Phrygian. In any key we can count down two whole steps (4 frets) and find ourselves in the Phrygian mode, playing from that note to its octave keeping in the notes of the major scale it is derived from. In the above figure you can see the first three modes in the major scale beginning on C. You will also notice the overlapping colors of the dots. This shows that the modes are all connected. Depending on the degree you begin on it will dictate the mode.


It is important for us as bass players to be versatile in our knowledge as well as ability. So, I have made cards showing the different positions in which you can play E Phrygian. Anywhere you find an E, it will be the one of the Mode. It is up to you and what the song calls for, as to whether or not you play a more horizontal mode, ascending or descending. For the sake of clarity and conformity with other lessons I have labeled them First, Third and Fourth Finger Positions. Depending upon your hand size you may play the Third Finger Position beginning on your Middle Finger instead, or the Fourth Finger Position beginning on your Third Finger instead. It is up to you what you do, but remember to keep your form as you play. Be sure to get the other flashcards from the Dropbox folder showing the other hand positions.

After all is said and done, you may know the scales, modes and patterns but if you don’t know how to apply them then the knowledge is useless. We call this application or wisdom, applied knowledge. Let’s briefly discuss some of the things we already know. We can play C Major, A Minor, D Dorian and the Fourth Position of the Pentatonic scale over a Phrygian groove. All of these scales and modes correspond to one another. You already have 5 great tools in your belt to take to any track! The below figure depicts the fourth position in the G Minor Pentatonic, or D Phrygian. Move this shape down to E as the 1.

Minor Pent. 4

So, I have supplied a track labelled E Phrygian Scale which will give you the Phrygian tonality, from E-E, using only the notes from the C Major Scale.

If have also supplied a track labelled E Phrygian Groove. This one is a little more tricky, because I have added Phrygian chords (sus2sus4; sus2 min(7)b9…etc), but the corresponding chord tones are supplied.

The E Phrygian Groove progresses in this way.

Drums 4 bars

2x Eminb9(EFG) – Emin7 (EDG) – Gsus2sus4 (GAC)- Fmaj7 (FAE)

4x Cmaj (CEG) – Eminb9 (EFG) – Gsus2 (GAD) – Emin (EGB) – Amin (ACE) (4x)

Drums 8 bars

Try to play at least two of the chord tones supplied per chord. You may have to listen through once or twice in order to get the pattern down. On the Eminb9 in the second part it may be only possible to play one of the chord tones, but as you progress you may want to play lead in notes (half-step above or below the chord tone). You’ll learn to slide into the chord tones and you’ll be making beautiful bass lines in no time.

If there is something you’d like explained more, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below or on the link that got you here. I invite and anticipate your questions. My intention is not to be a bass instructor, but rather a bass help. Soon I am looking forward to being able to have videos up for you guys and gals, but I don’t want to do that until it can be quality material. Thanks and I look forward to Scaling Your Bass next week when we discuss the Lydian Mode.

Check out  this YouTube video (which does not belong to me) in A Phrygian. (F Major)



Dorian: A Modular Difference

Are you new to modes? Don’t fear! I was one of those poor souls not very long ago. I had no idea how guys were getting these amazing sounds over these crazy, yet beautiful, chords. Thankfully, I happened upon a scary word, MODE, and a great online teacher to explain them. There are many to choose from on any given song, although some may sound much better with the chord arrangement. Ionian is the most popular mode because it is essentially the Major scale (CDEFGAB), but today we will be discussing the Dorian Mode. I am more of a visual learner so flash cards help me to visualize where the modal shapes are in relation to other modes and scales. Take this for example.


Get right over to my Dropbox folder labeled Dorian (click link) and download the flashcards and tracks.

If we consider the D Dorian Modal Scale in relationship to the C Ionian Mode (C Major)  it begins on the 2 (2nd note) of the C Ionian Mode and it ends one note past the Ionian’s 2nd octave (C). You can think of it as D-D (DEFGABCD). Also, if you are familiar with the Minor scale when looking at your fret board, the D Dorian scale begins on the 4 of the A Minor scale. If you are looking at your fret board, find the A (5th fret) on the E string and go directly over 1 string to the 5th fret on the A string and you will find D Dorian’s beginning position. So, it is possible to play the D Dorian mode over an A minor because D Dorian is contained in the notes of A Minor.

If you’ve been following this blog then you have seen the Minor Pentatonic lesson. If we were in A minor we could go into the 3rd position and play D Dorian or the 3rd position pentatonic scale. The below figure can be transposed to the 3rd position (D) of the A minor scale as it is picturing the 3rd position (C) of the G minor scale.

Minor Pent. 3

Many jazz songs beginning on the II are considered Dorian. The best definition I could find of Mode or Modular is the definition for Modular in the mathematical sense:

Mathematics. (of a lattice) having the property that for any two elements with one less than the other, the union of the smaller element with the intersection of the larger element and any third element of the lattice is equal to the intersection of the larger element with the union of the smaller element and the third element.

That may sound confusing but just remember the modes all intersect. The Dorian Mode can be played in different positions, depending on which finger you start on. It is important to learn the different positions so that you have a great command on the language of your fret board. Here are a few examples, but be sure to download the rest from the Dropbox folder.

DorianfirstfingerA Doriansecondfinger DorianfirstfingerB

Now let’s get to practicing the Dorian Mode. Remember that D is not the only place you can begin a Dorian groove. If the tune is in G Minor or Bflat the Dorian Mode would begin on C.

Download the Dorian Modal Scale track first and get used to the sound of the Dorian sound. Play along to the track provided to get the timing down as well as you have the C Major (Ionian) scale memorized in all three positions

Download the Dorian Track Loopd and play along, make up your own groove or bass line! Also, check out these Dorian tracks on YouTube. These videos and tracks do not belong to me. (A Dorian) (G Dorian)

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Minor Pentatonic: A Major Step in Groove

Today’s lesson is a fun one! It completely reinvigorated my passion for learning to play the bass, because I realized that becoming “more than I was” wasn’t far away, but it completely relied upon me putting in the time. Trust me, it’s WORTH THE TIME!!! If you’re like me, then you have a passion for music, not just bass, but you use the bass in order to express that passion. The minor pentatonic scale is a rich device to have in your arsenal in order to build your understanding of music. Go ahead and download the flash cards labelled “Minor Pent…” 1-5 in the Minor Pentatonic Dropbox folder. Just click the highlighted link. There are also cards which display the full scale, the individual positions


If we’re going to understand the minor pentatonic scale then we must first attempt to understand why it is called minor. This may be review for some, but it is called minor because of the flat 3rd. So, the third in the major scale is a semitone, or half step, higher than that of the minor 3rd. G major’s triad is G-B-D, but G minor flattens the 3rd (B) to a Bflat so that the minor triad is now G-Bb-D. That’s a very simplistic explanation and for now I believe it will suffice. So, the minor pentatonic scale is based on that major scale with the flattened 3rd, which is now called minor.

The big difference between the minor pentatonic scale and the minor scale is that the pentatonic scale contains only five notes, whereas the minor scale is a heptatonic scale, meaning it contains seven notes. Penta, meaning 5, lets you know how many tones (tonics) are involved. If you want a simple way to get around a song in a minor key the minor pentatonic is your vehicle. The minor pentatonic scale’s five notes, no matter the key (G, D, B, C#… etc) will stay consistent through all five positions. In order to keep it simple just remember that the first position begins on the first note, the second position on the second note, and so on through the fifth position.

Now, if you’ve downloaded the practice audio file you’ll notice it has two distinct patterns. What I did was separated the scale practice audio into two parts. The track will scale from the first to the fifth position and then the first again, because the position beginning at the 15th fret in the G minor pentatonic is the first position just below the fifth. You’ll understand as you go through it. Immediately after the 3rd time of playing through the scale I’ve included the audio of a bass playing the first position forwards and backwards, and the second, and third, and so on. So, here’s an outline.

  1. 1st position – G (third fret)
  2. 2nd position – B flat
  3. 3rd position – C
  4. 4th position – D
  5. 5th position – F
  6. 1st position – G (15th fret)     repeat 1-6 3x
  7. 1st position – forwards and backwards
  8. 2nd position –  forwards and backwards
  9. 3rd position –  forwards and backwards
  10. 4th position –  forwards and backwards
  11. 5th position –  forwards and backwards


NOTHING can replace practice. Listen to the groove track and plot out a pentatonic groove or just solo along, going in and out of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth positions.

If you haven’t already click on the links on the right side of the page and give Scaling Your Bass a like on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. I’ll be releasing tracks for practice through those two avenues throughout the week. Thanks for bringing your passion to meet mine and I Iook forward to Scaling Your Bass next week as we scale the modes.SYB

C Major (part 1)

As this is my very first post I am excited about what the future holds. Ultimately, this will be up to you to make it successful! If this is a place you can learn and find inspiration for your own playing, then share it with others who might be in the same place you once found yourself. We’ve all been “there,” stuck in a rut or just not sure what to study. I remember wondering what it was those great bass players knew and how they knew what to play over certain chords. They understood something. THEORY! Before you start saying, “oh, here we go again,” hear me out. They may not have known every nuance of music theory, but they understood the relationship notes have with one another in certain keys and the chords within those keys. That is what this first post is about. I’m not starting out with the basics of the parts of the bass or even with the notes on a standard (EADG) tuned four string bass. If you don’t know that then catch me another time and I’ll create some cards, but today we’re concerned with learning the most used scale in all of music.

BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE, visit my dropbox folder titled “C Major” and download the two audio files (C major walking bass, C major bass practice). I’ve created these audio files to help you as you learn and build muscle memory.


Save the picture file “Scaling C Major” from the C Major folder and practice going through each fingering until you can recall the shape as you call out the name the of the triad. Now practice along with the audio file labeled “C Major Walking Bass.” The track begins with the C Major Triad and goes through all seven positions of the C Major scale. Become very familiar with these positions. The track then immediately starts the C Major scale, walking it up from C to the octave (C), then back down, up once more and then the C major chord is held out for 3 counts. So, here’s what it looks like:

  • C major triad
  • D minor triad
  • E minor triad
  • F major triad
  • G major triad
  • A minor triad
  • B diminished triad
  • C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
  • C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C
  • C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
  • C major chord (1,3,5 – C, E, G) played in unison

This pattern repeats for 4:16. This should provide ample time to get some muscle memory and hopefully connect some dots for you.

DOWNLOAD ALL OF THE FLASH CARDS from the folder! You might even make yourself a Dropbox account and create a folder titled “SYB” or “Scaling Your Bass” so as to keep this information safe and separate. Here are just a few at a lower resolution. Get the full resolution and both tracks in the folder.

CmajorCtri CmajorBdimtri

I have created a card for each interval of the C Major scale and have provided information on each card concerning the triads and their relation to C.

Finally, I have created a 7:28 audio track you can practice along to, “CMAJOR BASS PRACTICE.” Here you can get some practice grooving along to an artificial track. It is by no means meant to be a song. It contains all of the chords within the C Major scale but should provide time and space to practice your triads. And remember you don’t always have to start on the “1” of the triad. The chords are as follows:

  • A minor
  • B dim
  • C major
  • F major
  • B dim
  • A minor
  • C major
  • G major
  • D minor
  • E minor

Thanks for taking the time to study, download and share. I look forward to the time when we’re Scaling Your Bass with the Pentatonic scale.

Try playing along to the Avett Brothers’ November Blue in C major.