Learn the Notes on your Bass

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Here’s a fun exercise to help you learn

where all the notes are on your fretboard.



  • Start by playing a scale of your choice in any way that’s comfortable for you.  Play it enough times (up and down) until the sound of the scale or tonality in ingrained in your brain.
  • Play the scale again… but this time use only ONE finger on ONE string.
  • Lift your finger and hit the note cleanly with good attack and tone! Do NOT slide (gliss) into the next note.
  • Say the name of each note for added benefit.
  • Now add a second string, then third and so on.

Why one finger?  We want to learn the notes on the fingerboard without relying on fingering positions.  Positions make playing more efficient, but should not be used to define note location.  (I once had a student who insisted he was playing an F# because he was using his 4th finger, when he was actually playing an F natural.)

If you really want to test your Pitch Ear Training, try this exercise on Fretless Bass.  Remember to listen intently and try to hear the next note in the scale before you move to it.

Try it and have FUN!

About DaveWelsch

New York State based First-Call Bass Player, Dave Welsch, has been been performing all styles of music for nearly 50 years. He most recently toured with Grammy Award winning artist, Victor Wooten, featured on Bass, Trumpet, Keyboards, and Vocals. He previously worked as Victor’s Tour Manager in 2005, 2007 and 2008.


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