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Learn Bass Guitar – Scales – The Minor Scale

The Major Scale vs. The Minor Scale

Learn Bass Guitar – Scales – The Minor Scale –> One of the best ways to learn and remember the Minor Scale is to understand how it compares to the Major Scale. Like the major scale, the minor scale includes 7 notes – Root – 2nd – 3rd – 4th – 5th – 6th – 7th. The difference between the major and minor scale is that the minor scale includes 3 flat notes. These are the 3rd, 6th, and 7th. Here is a table that compares the notes in the major and minor scales:

Major ScaleRoot2nd3rd4th5th6th7th
Minor ScaleRoot2ndflat 3rd4th5thflat 6thflat 7th

Here is a diagram showing a G Major Scale:

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G Major Scale bass

Here is a diagram showing the G Minor Scale showing the flat 3rd, flat 6th, and flat 7th notes:

G Minor Scale bass

The diagram above shows a pattern that spans 4 frets. This pattern can be used anywhere on the fret board on the E and A strings to play the minor scale using any root note. Here’s a diagram of the B minor scale using the same 4 fret pattern:

B Minor Scale bass guitar

Minor Scale Fingering

When learning the minor scale it is best to first learn the 4 span pattern shown in the two diagrams above. The fingering when playing this pattern is as follows:

  • Root – 1 (index finger)
  • 2nd – 3 (ring finger)
  • 3rd – 4 (pinkie)
  • 4th – 1 (index finger)
  • 5th – 3 (ring finger)
  • 6th – 4 (pinkie)
  • 7th – 1 (index finger)
  • Root – 3 (ring finger)

Minor Scale Intervals

Like the major scale, the minor scale will always be constructed using a set of intervals. Recall that intervals are the distance between notes. The minor scale includes whole (W) intervals and half (H) intervals. A whole interval is two frets between notes. A half interval is one fret between notes. The minor scale will always be constructed with this set of intervals:

W – H – W – W – H – W – W

Below is a diagram of a G minor scale showing the intervals between notes:

G Minor Scale with intervals bass

Knowing the intervals can help you remember how to play the minor scale when you are not able to use the four fret pattern – for example when starting with root notes on the D or G strings. Here is a diagram showing the pattern for F minor starting on the 3rd fret D string with intervals.

F minor with intervals bass

Using the Minor Scale

The minor scale should be used when a song is in a minor key, and/or on top of minor chords being played. It’s important to understand what key the song a in and when the minor chords are being played. You can use the minor scale sometimes when a song may not be in a minor key (like a major for example). But using a minor scale in the wrong song or spot can make the bassline stand out in a bad way. So be sure that it fits, and as always – let your ear be the final judge.

Minor Scale Notation/Symbol

The Minor Scale is notated by using the root note of the chord followed by “minor” or a lower case “m”. For example, the abbreviation for a C minor scale is Cminor or Cm.

Click Here to View our Bass Guitar Minor Scales – Fretboard Diagrams

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Learn Bass Guitar – Scales – The Minor Scale