Learn these 4 scale patterns and you’ll be able to rip melodic bass runs with minimal effort. Use them to create killer bass solos and walking bass lines.
Recently, I transcribed several of John Patitucci’s bass solos and noticed a strong frequency of a specific scale pattern.
These scale patterns are easy to learn. They keep your focus on the chord tones, which will make your bass solos sound more coherent.They are very easy to play fast, because they barely require any thinking. Most of all, they always sound good, so you can spend more time focusing on your feel and the emotion that you are trying to communicate.
4 Effective Scale Patterns
There are four specific scale patterns that can allow you to embellish on chord tones, play long melodic runs, and effortlessly sound good.
An effective method to learn this, is to apply these scale patterns to the chord tones of your scale (root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th). Just get used to moving these scale patterns around, while keeping your focus on the target-note.
*Note: Although the target-note can start on any mode of the scale, the target-note will almost always start on a chord tone.
**Note: Steps are always in relation to the target-note.
***Note: The word “Steps” is referring to each note of the scale, NOT traditional steps, like whole steps and half steps.
Scale Pattern #1
The first scale pattern is created by playing: target-note, 2 steps below, 1 step below, target-note.
Scale Pattern #2
The second scale pattern is created by playing: target-note, 1 step below, 2 steps below, target-note.
Scale Pattern #3
The third scale pattern is created by playing: target-note, 2 steps above, 1 step above, target-note.
Scale Pattern #4
The fourth scale pattern is created by playing: target-note, 1 step above, 2 steps above, target-note.
Immediate Application to a ii, V7, i Chord Progression
This example will focus on exploring combinations of the scale patterns mentioned above, over a minor ii, V7, i chord progression.
The majority of this bass solo focuses solely on these 4 scale patterns. Because the melody of these scale patterns are so strong on their own, I can focus my efforts on creating interesting rhythms.
As you can hear, you can still achieve a lot with a narrow focus!
Apply this concept to your walking bass lines to make them more melodic. These simple scale patterns always sound good when played fast or slow.