The Bass Fretboard Chart
The following tool will help you visualize the bass fretboard. If you have read other articles here at GTiD, you know that we do not advocate rote learning. It is much better to visualize, internalize, and analyze. This will help you learn the bass guitar fretboard through intuition and through reason. That's a powerful combination!
The bass fretboard is a lot easier to learn than the guitar fretboard. Your learning curve will be much shorter than that of your 6-string colleagues'. The bass guitar lends itself much better to melody than to chords and harmony. And there is no limit to the complexity of the melodic lines that can be played on a bass guitar!
Because the bass guitar is tuned in a perfectly symetrical way, finding notes intuitively is quite easy. Not so the guitar! So take advantage of that and develop your melodic creativity!
Doubtless, there is a lot to say about the bass guitar fretboard. Truly mastering it is no mean feat. But you will never do it if you don't start somewhere. To start you out, I've put together the 10 basic steps to learn the bass guitar fretboard that will change your status from total beginner to beginner-with-a-future in just a few days.
10 steps to learn the bass fretboard...
1. Stop feeling confused about the bass guitar fretboard. Just do it!
2. Understand that when divided in half, a string produces the same note, but an octave higher.
3. Understand that there are only 12 possible tones on a bass guitar. They repeat in lower and higher registers, but a C is a C whether low or high.
4. Link tip 2 and tip 3 together: The octave is subdivided into 12 steps. Each is represented on the bass guitar by a fret. If you keep counting after 12, 13 will be the same as 1, but an octave higher.
5. Understand the "distance" between the strings (the fancy word is intervallic relationship. Each pair of adjacent strings is separated by a perfect fourth. If you have problems understanding intervals, go back to that, and come back when you are ready.
6. Learn how a major scale is played on any single string. For now it does not matter if it sounds good. Just focus on where the notes are ON A SINGLE STRING.
7. Say the names of the notes out loud as you play the major scales we've just discussed.
8. Sing everything you play on bass. This will engage your sense of hearing at a far deeper level. It will help you grasp the bass fretboard from your intuition.
9. Visualize all of what you have learnt in your mind's eye. Form a clear mental picture of it, and picture yourself going over all the steps. Practice this for 5 minutes a day, until the image is clear and sharp.
10. Download the free blank fretboard diagram, and fill in the notes by hand. Don't just copy them from the screen! Try to spot relationships as you go along. But don't worry too much about it. Your understanding of the bass fretboard will deepen together with your understanding of theory. Take it one step a a time! Then, tack the bass fretboard diagram to your wall, and keep one in your bass case, to take it with you wherever you go.
But above all, enjoy playing music!
So far, we have only looked at the Bass Guitar Fretboard Chart shows natural notes only. Click here for the full chart, including accidentals (sharps and flats).
Guitar Fretboard in DepthExtra step! 11: If you want to know the bass fretboard better, knowing a bit about the guitar fretboard will boost your understanding. Not only that, you will be able to communicate better with the guitarists you play with. Stop them in their tracks next time they want to play boss by showing them who knows ;-)
Out of all kidding, though, the following section contains plenty of information that is relevant to bass players: 1. Guitar Fretboard in Depth: section overview
2.Guitar Notes: A view along the Fretboard, and other important points
3. Fretboard Diagram- string by string: still looking along the fretboard, at scales and modes this time
4. Guitar Tuning and the Fretboard: a view across the fretboard
5. The Guitar Fretboard Chart explained afresh -also for Bass players
6. Fretboard Map: connect the dots!
7. 24 Frets: The full diagram
Go from Bass Fretboard in Depth to Guitar Fretboard in Depth
Go back from Bass Fretboard in Depth to Guitar Theory in Depth