Bass: Major Pentatonic

New musicality video:

When it comes to playing by ear and improvising, the major pentatonic is a perfect place to start.

The major pentatonic scale is one of the most useful and universal, and has the advantage of being easier to learn and use than the full major scale most musicians start with.

In this month’s Instrument Packs at Musical U our four Resident Pros taught easy, practical ways to put the major pentatonic to use on guitar, bass, piano and when singing. Building on our training modules which teach members to recognise the major pentatonic scale and each of its notes by ear, as well as last month’s Resource Packs on Beginning Improvisation, these new tutorials help make the connection to instrument skills and practical use of the pentatonic when playing and creating music.

The Major Pentatonic: Resource Pack Preview

The major pentatonic pops up in basslines across a variety of genres and that makes it a powerful tool for the bassist who wants to improvise, write their own lines, or play basslines by ear. Steve Lawson dives deep into the several different ways you’ll encounter this scale being used – and shows you how to get familiar with them all – through fun and creative playing exercises.


– Where you’ve heard the major pentatonic before on bass.
– The useful connection between the pentatonic and the chords of a key.
– Different ways to play through the notes of the scale to internalise its potential uses.
– Finding the root note in different positions of the scale.
– Using certain notes as “pivot” notes in your riffs and lines.
– MP3 practice tracks to experiment with the major and minor pentatonic in different keys and styles.

As always Steve brings an extensive knowledge of bass history and a creative mindset to learning the practical skills, making this a far more interesting and valuable tutorial on the major pentatonic than the traditional purely-theory-based way of teaching it. Get your Motown groove on!


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Bass: Major Pentatonic