bass fretboard chart

The Complete Bass Fretboard Chart

This bass fretboard chart shows all 12 tones on a 4 string bass guitar. This might be a little hard to digest in an eyeful, so check out this bass note chart with only natural notes on it: the white keys on a piano: C D E F G A B.

Those 7 tones are the C major scale. Now add to that the F# Pentatonic Major scale — F# G# A# C# D# — and you get the full chromatic scale. 7 + 5 = 12.

12 tones

If this 7 + 5 layout reminds you a little of a keyboard, that's because that's exactly how notes are laid out on piano:

12 tones

Each string is composed of those exact 12 tones: each is a self-contained chromatic entity. What defines each string is which specific tone it starts on:

E A D G

Now, scales are cycles, and the cycle for chromatic scales fit 12 notes in them. 12 frets. You'll notice that Fret 0 to Fret 12 repeats exactly from Fret 12 to Fret 24.

It's worth noting the register, or octave number the bass guitar sounds in. Just like guitar, the bass guitar is a transposing instrument: in this specific case, what it means is that notes sound an octave lower than they appear on the bass stave.

This means that the open strings of the bass guitar are:

E2 A2 D3 G3

This also means that the open strings of the bass guitar are tuned exactly an octave below strings 6 to 3 of a guitar: the range of a standard 22 fret bass is 3 octaves and a minor second. That is to say that it spans from E3 to F5.

Explore your bass fretboard, from open strings to fret 12 and from fret 12 up using this chart as your starting point... understanding what the range of the bass fretboard is relative to guitar and piano is key to finding good bass lines for that cool song or arrangement in any band situation.

But the most powerful thing of all is the simplest: sing what you play, as you play it.


Middle C is C5 in most of the world, and C4 in the US:we use international pitch index numbers throughout this site — take away one for US numbering!

7 tone bass fretboard chart

For additional tools and information to help you learn the bass fretboard once and for all go here for a 10 step guide to help you get your hands on it faster.

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