Circle Of Fifths For Bass (How To Learn & USE!)

A lot of people get really confused when it comes to the Circle of Fifths. What is it? How do I use it? Is it actually worth knowing??

The answer to the last question is...yes. Here's what it'll allow you to do:

  1. Play in ALL keys
  2. Find the relative minor very easily 
  3. Read music 
  4. Learn all the notes on your fretboard
  5. Improvise, write, and jam

Scroll down for the PDF download as well as the handy tips and mnemonics to make learning the Circle of Fifths a doddle.


The Circle Of Fifths/Fourths For Bass Guitar



Memorisation Tricks and Tips

You'll need to commit the following to memory. Spend a few minutes a day on this and you'll get it in no time at all.

First, you need to know the names of a few notes on the bass clef:


Notes Names on The Bass Clef for bass guitar

For sharp (#) keys - the ones going clockwise round the circle - learn this mnemonic:

Father Christmas Gave Dad An Electric Blanket

When you go in this direction round the circle, 5 is the magic number. Starting from C (no sharps or flats), keys go up a 5th at a time with sharps also being added a 5th at a time.

To find the name of a sharp key, locate the last sharp (to the right of the key signature) and raise that letter by one. That's the name of the key.

For flat (b) keys - the ones going anti clockwise round the circle - learn this mnemonic:

Blanket Explodes And Dad Gets Cold Feet

When you go in this direction round the circle, 4 is the magic number. Starting from C (no sharps or flats), keys go up a 4th at a time with flats also being added a 4th at a time.

To find the name of a flat key, locate the second to last flat (to the left of the key signature) and that's the name of the key.

That's it!

Learn all that and you're good to go.

To Practise

  1. Play a one octave scale from C Major, going up in 5ths each time (clockwise round the circle). Shout out the names of the notes as you go.
  2. Do the same the other way around the circle for the flat keys.
  3. Be able to locate the relative minor key of any major scale.
  4. Harmonise each major scale. This lesson will help.
  5. Look out for written music and try and figure out the key as quickly as you can.


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