Bass scales in tab, notation and movable scale diagrams. A complete reference for bass guitarists of all styles and abilities.
Use these scales in your basslines, songwriting, riffs and improvisation.
All of the bass scales on this page are shown in tab with a tonic note of A, and as movable (transposable) scale diagrams.
Note: The tabs don’t necessarily correspond to the diagrams, although they do show the same scale. They’ve been included as a quick way of learning the sound of each scale. The tabs contain open string notes, and can’t be transposed.
By learning the scales using the diagrams, you can move them up and down the bass neck and play them with any root note. Of course, you can also play them in open position, playing open strings instead of the relevant dots..
If any part of this page is unclear, feel free to ask us any questions in the comments section. Enjoy!
The movable shapes are shown in the scale diagrams below the tab. In each diagram, the tonic note is shown as a white circle. All other notes in the scale are shown as black circles.
- Want this (and more) information at your fingertips? Check out our printable Bass Scales, Chords & Arpeggios Book. This book also features multiple diagrams per scale. You can see sample pages, and download the book, here: Bass Scales Book.
- Learn to play chords on your bass guitar: visit our Bass Chords page.
Pentatonic Minor Bass Scale
The pentatonic minor is one of the most commonly used scales in rock and pop music. Use it to compose riffs and bass lines, or in improvisation.
Pentatonic Major Bass Scale
The pentatonic major bass scale produces a clear, open sound and is great for use in major chord sequences.
Blues Bass Scales
The blues scale, as its name suggests, is often used in blues music. It is also widely used in rock and jazz. Learn where the blues notes fall and accentuate them for maximum effect. (Blues notes are the flattened fifth notes, e.g. the E flats in the A blues scale above.)
The major scale is one of the first bass scales you should learn. Knowing the intervals between the notes of a major scale is important in understanding all other scales. Once you know the sound it produces and the scale shapes needed to play it in all keys, learn how it can be changed to make other bass scales.
Our popular Bass Scales, Chords & Arpeggios book is now available as an eBook. Download yours today! (Click here to find out how.)
Natural Minor Bass Scale
A good scale for using with minor chord sequences. Also called the Aeolian mode.
Harmonic Minor Scale
A scale that gives your playing a ‘classical music’ sound. Incorporate it into your bass playing for variety and for effect.
Dorian Mode Bass Scales
One of the most important modal bass scales, the Dorian modal has a folky sound, and is a useful scale to use with minor seventh chords.
Mixolydian Bass Scales
This is a good scale to use over dominant seventh chords.
Phrygian Dominant Bass Scales
This is a very atmospheric scale with a distinctive Eastern sound. Can be used to great effect in metal bass lines and solos.
This bass scale can be used to create interesting effects and lines. It is also very good for developing left-right hand coordination and as a pre-gig warm up.