Many fairly advanced players don't know the entire fretboard; sticking to one or two familiar zones on the bass guitar.
Whether you are a complete beginner or have been playing for a while but don't quite know all of the fretboard; this lesson is for you!
The bass guitar is an instrument of shapes and patterns. We can use these to help us learn the entire fretboard with ease. Watch this 60-second video to see 5 cool things you can do when you know the bass guitar fretboard well.
The fretboard may look confusing at first but it's actually really easy to learn once you know a few key points. Let's get right to it.
The Notes On A Piano
The piano was invented way before the bass and the seemingly random order of notes on a bass is best explained by looking at the piano. The musical alphabet goes A B C D E F G. No H or above. So the notes repeat themselves when you get to G.
- There are 7 white notes (ABCDEFG) and 5 black ones (A#/Bb, C#/Db, D#/Eb, F#/Gb, G#/Ab).
- So 12 notes in total: A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab.
- Notice the E and F, and B and C do NOT have a black note in between them.
- Every other white note does have a black note in between it and the next one.
A sharp (#) is when you go to the next highest (right on the piano) black note from a white note. A flat is when you go the next.
Let’s see how that helps us with the bass…..
Just The 'White' Notes On The Bass
- Every single B and C, and E and F are right next to each other on the very next fret.
- Every other note has a gap of a fret. Look at the piano picture again. These ‘gaps’ are the sharps (#) and flats (b.
Now Adding The Sharp Notes (#)
- Notes get higher when you go this way on a bass ———-> and a sharp is added when you go to the next highest fret.
- It REALLY helps to learn the piano keyboard as it explains why B and E don’t have a sharp (B and C, and E and F have no black note between them.
And Finally, The Flat (b) Notes….
- Notes get lower in pitch when you go this way on a bass <———- and a flat is added when you go to the next lowest fret.
- Same as before, when you go one note to the left you ‘flatten’ the note. C and F don’t have a black note left of it on a piano (check the diagram again) so that’s why you don’t see a flat there on the fretboard diagram.
Spend as much time as you need getting your head around all this and then use the exercises and patterns from the other lessons on this blog to memorise the notes. It really doesn’t take long at all to learn EVERY note on the fretboard.