5 Major Scale Pentatonic Positions on Bass Guitar

5 Major Pentatonic Positions for Bass Guitar –> One of the essentials when learning to play bass is how to play a major pentatonic scale. A pentatonic is a simple pattern using 5 notes of any major scale. These 5 notes are the 1st (root), 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th notes (no 4th or 7th notes).

Below is a fretboard diagram showing the notes of a C Major scale:

C Major Scale for Bass Fretboard Diagram

Below is a fretboard diagram showing the notes of the C Major pentatonic –> 1st (root), 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th notes (no 4th or 7th notes)

C Major Pentatonic for Bass Fretboard Diagram

One of the great things about pentatonics is that you can play the same pentatonic notes in 5 different positions all over the fretboard. In other words, you can play the same notes of any major pentatonic scale at higher or lower octaves all over the fretboard by simply learning the 5 pentatonic positions. These positions can be applied for any key (root note, scale) on the bass!

Learning these positions will help with many aspects of playing bass – from being able to play notes and fills all over the fretboard, to understanding the structure of songs, to being able to improvise and play the right notes in a jam!

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Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic Position 1

When playing a major pentatonic on bass, this is the pattern that you will learn first. Again a pentatonic is simply 5 notes of the major scale –> Root – 2nd – 3rd – 5th – 6th. We then continue with the root (higher octave), 2nd (higher octave), and 3rd (higher octave)

For this lesson we will be using the G Major Pentatonic. The notes for this pentatonic are G – A – B – D – E. We will use these same notes (and only these notes) in all the positions that we play.

Fretboard Diagram for Major Pentatonic – Position 1

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic Position 1 Fretboard

Video Example for Major Pentatonic – Position 1

Below is a video showing the G Major Pentatonic being played in Position 1:

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic – Position 2

For the next position, you are going to start on the 2nd note that you played in Position 1. Then play through using the pattern below. You are still playing the same 5 notes of the G Major scale –> G, A, B, D and E.

Fretboard Diagram for Major Pentatonic – Position 2

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic Position 2 fretboard diagram

Video Example for Major Pentatonic – Position 2

Below is a video showing the G Major Pentatonic being played in Position 2. Notice that I stopped on the G note which is the root note of this pentatonic:


Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic – Position 3

For the next position, you are going to start on the 2nd note that you played in Position 2. In fact if played in ascending order, each position will start with the 2nd note of previous pattern.

Fretboard Diagram for Major Pentatonic – Position 3

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic Position 3 fretboard diagram

Video Example for Major Pentatonic – Position 3

Below is a video showing the G Major Pentatonic being played in Position 3. Again I ended by playing the G note – the root of this pentatonic:

BTW – If you are interested in taking online bass lessons we also highly recommend JamPlay Bass Lessons. Bass Player Center provided a review of their site and services – click here to check it out!. Or to visit the JamPlay Bass Lessons main page click here.

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic Position 4

Fretboard Diagram for Major Pentatonic – Position 4

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic Position 4 fretboard diagram

Video Example for Major Pentatonic – Position 4

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic Position 5

Fretboard Diagram for Major Pentatonic – Position 5

Bass Guitar Major Pentatonic position 5

Video Example for Major Pentatonic – Position 5

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How To Practice and Memorize the Pentatonic Positions

1. Start out first by simply practicing each position one at a time. Play the positions starting on different root notes!

2. Practice playing two positions together in ascending and descending order. Below is a video showing positions 1 and 2 being played together in ascending and descending order for the G Major Pentatonic:

3. Practice starting in one position and then play the pattern that is two positions higher or lower. For example, practice playing from position 1 to position 3, or from position 2 to position 4. Below is a video showing position 2 and position 4 being played in ascending and descending order for the G Major Pentatonic:

4. Play all of the positions 1 through 5 together in ascending and descending order. Try this using different root notes. Below is a video showing all of the positions being played together in ascending and descending order for G Major Pentatonic:

Hopefully this gives you some help with understanding and learning the major pentatonic positions on bass guitar. Again, learning these positions can help you be a better bass player in many ways. It will help you with being able to play more notes and fills to enhance your bass lines. You can more easily grasp and understand the structure of songs by understanding these positions. And they are great to use when you are improvising and creating your own original bass lines.

BTW – If you are interested in taking online bass lessons we also highly recommend JamPlay Bass Lessons. Bass Player Center provided a review of their site and services – click here to check it out!. Or to visit the JamPlay Bass Lessons main page click here.

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5 Major Scale Pentatonic Positions on Bass Guitar