Bass Guitar Music Theory: The Minor Pentatonic Scale

This lesson shows two one octave patterns of the minor pentatonic scale, and then the 5 shapes across the fretboard. This shape can be moved to whatever root note you want but these examples are in the key of A minor.

One Octave Pattern

This pattern goes across the fretboard. Pay close attention to the fingers to be used. The red blob is the root note (the ‘A’ in this case).

One Octave Pattern – across one string

This is a great pattern to a) visualise the scale (you can really see the gaps between the notes and this helps memorise and internalise the scale) and b) get yourself moving around the fretboard. Especially great for slides and hammer ons and pull offs.

See how the pattern of gaps goes 2, 1, 1, 2 if you ignore the final A? That symmetrical pattern is hugely satisfying!

Use any fingering pattern you like. Perhaps start with just using your 1st finger. Try slides, hammer ons and pull offs if you know how…

All The Shapes

Here are all the places A minor pentatonic can happen on a bass neck. Then each pattern broken down.

All notes across 12 frets

Learn the shapes and patterns but, mostly, the sound of this simple 5 note scale. You will be amazed at how much you hear this sound in music and it will really, really help you in your playing.

Backing Track

Play these shapes along to the backing track. I recorded the backing track in F minor so simply move all the above shapes down (left on the diagram) 4 frets. So the starting fret in Shape 1 should be fret 1 and not fret 5. Fret 1 on the E string is ‘F’ so this is why it fits to a the backing track.

Try simply playing the scale shapes up and down listening to how it fits to the music. All the notes will sound good! Don’t worry about playing fast to start with just use it to get the shapes down,

Then you can start playing bass lines or soloing over the chord changes as and when you can.

Here are the chord symbols for the backing track. The whole track goes round 3 times.

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Related Lessons

Bass Guitar Music Theory: The 7 Arpeggios From C Major