Bass Bit 9: Chromatic Shed: A Most Freeing Exercise (BB#9)

Chromatic Scale Shedding

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 11.51.35 PMThis is one of the most freeing and fun exercise imaginable – shedding the chromatic scale in a musical way using a delay pedal. If you don’t have one, you can get the Flashback Mini from TC for under 70$. Worthwhile investment. But no matter what piece of equipment you are using, a delay pedal makes the chromatic scale sound super hip and will give you lots of ideas how to use it in a musical context.
I bet you never thought practicing scales could be so much fun!
Enjoy !

I use Marleaux Basses and Dean Markley Strings. TC ElectronicsPedals, cabs and amps! Fretwrap byGruvgear.
(Ariane Cap is an official endorser for all these fine companies.)
Thanks to for audio post production.


[Intro playing: 0.00 to 0.10]

I find this exercise super freeing so I really really encourage you to do it. I love practicing with the delay pedal because it always sounds like music and especially with something like the chromatic scale we like to think: “That’s not really music. That’s just a scale. That’s just a theoretical thing.” But you can do super hip things with the chromatic scale. You can use it for walking because chromatic notes are approach notes so whenever I do something in half steps, it gives my line direction. So especially [playing: 0.41 to 0.42], see? When I do a walking bass like this [playing: 0.45 to 0.48], I can play a whole walking bass line always just chromatically approaching my next root. So I’ll play [playing: 0.52 to 0.56] root, approach approach approach root, approach approach approach, root. Right, that’s just one way to do a walking bass. Lots more to talk about that. That’s on for a later video.

But the reason why I think it’s really important to practice all these scales and concepts in a musical way is because they do occur in songs and music and you can have so much fun with them: and if you know where to go on the fret board, you are golden.

I love practicing all these concepts with a delay pedal. Paul Hanson, my duo partner, does incredible things with a delay pedal and I looked over his shoulder a little bit. But it always sounds musical. So this is the setting that I use for the delay pedal:

  • Set to a dotted eighth note;
  • I have the delay sound on “delay line”. Don’t use “dynamic” because what you want [playing: 1.39 to 1.40] is that the delayed note sounds as much as the original note that you’re playing. For the exact same reason you want to:
  • keep the mix exactly in the middle – 50/50 and
  • the mod level on zero, no modulation at all.
  • the color, just between analog and digitial and
  • the feedback needs to be on zero so that you get one [playing: 1.58 to 1.59] delayed note only.Okay, so I’m playing one note [playing 2.01 to 2.04]. And in order for this to sound cool you want to play the notes short. So I’m going to demonstrate what I’m gonna do: I’m gonna just have a heck of a fun time just playing the chromatic scale.

[playing: 2.13 to 2.32] It’s so freeing because it’s the chromatic scale and there are no wrong notes, because you are using all of the notes there are. And everything you do, you can move in any interval you like just keep it the same there are no wrong notes, right? So just go for it.

I find it an incredibly freeing exercise. There is no tonal centre, there is no chord symbol. Right now that we’re talking about it, I just want you to explore the way your bass sounds if you use [playing: 2.52 to 3.01] all the notes on the bass. And by using the delay pedal, I could do that. And it’s a symmetric scale so anything you find that you like you can move up in multiples of the interval by which the scale is symmetric and this scale is symmetric by the minor second. So you can move it any old way you want: pick any kind of amount of steps. Officially we haven’t learned the other intervals yet but just pick two frets, three frets, four frets and just keep moving it around. Just keep it consistent and it’ll sound cool. I can do things like [playing: 3.27 to 3.32]. There’s things that cross strings. I can do [playing: 3.34 to 3.39].

I mean you can come up with the most outrageous thing and it’s always gonna sound great. You have no obligation to any kind of tonal centre. If there is a tonal centre, you will want to know how the chromatic note sounds different than the notes that are part of the scale that would be spelling out the chord. We’ll get to all of that in later videos. But this is just to say you can use chromatics even if there are tonal centers!! I think it’s really important to know what the notes in the tonal centre are, how they sound, if I use those, and what it sounds like if I use the chromatic fare, which has a completely different flavor. But I think it’s a wonderful thing to do, to just kick in the delay pedal and just go crazy. 🙂

[playing: 4.23 to 4.29] You are allowed to do anything, as outrageous as it is and that pedal [playing: 4.30 to 5.00] is gonna make it sound great no matter what you do.

So have fun with that. I hope that gives you some ideas. It’s great if you’re a beginner, it’s great if you’re advanced, you’ll have, your fingers will be ready to do some fun stuff. They are also good technical exercises as you’re seeing. And right now I have a tempo of one hundred twenty on my delay pedal you can take that way down. Tempo a hundred, I’ll play you what that sounds like [playing: 5.21 to 5.38].

So the rhythmic value of the delay pedal is the dotted eighth note so what happens is I play a note [playing: 5.45 to 5.46], and then a dotted eighth later comes the delay. Now I’m gonna try to place another note right in between so that I play in a note, note delay.  And so what I get is this continuous rhythm of sixteenth notes [playing: 6.02 to 6.05]. And it takes a little bit of practice to just sort of get the hang of it so that when the delay comes back at you, you feel that pulse.

[playing: 6.11 to 6.41] You can step on it for fun and then you let it run again. Another tip when you’re playing with the delay pedal is make the note short because the nature of the delay is that, if you make them sustained, it will sound like this [playing: 6.50 to 6.53]. And then it’s much harder to find where the rhythm is – so make them short [playing: 6.56 to 7.03] and then you get a much better effect. Things that sound cool by the way, is [playing: 7.07 to 7.14] play one note short I mean low. The other one’s high or the other way around [playing: 7.16 to 7.21].

Okay that’s another thing that’s fun.

Jumps on the Fretboard (TT#3)


Jumps on the fretboard (Talking Technique #3,

Talking Technique 3 is up on In this episode I tackle a few ways to practice playing without looking, all over the fretboard. I am answering a question from Brandon who was inquiring about unisons with hornlines that take him all over the fretboard
We will borrow some routines that help upright bass players with bigger distances and intonation and we will take a look at some tips for position based playing which will help to know the neck so well you can play without looking. I briefly go over the notefinder exerciseand show you the blindfolded notefinder version. Let’s jump in, so to speak. Enjoy!


Bass Bit 8: Seconds on the Bass 1 (BB#8)

Seconds Part 1

In this segment I show you fingerings and concepts of the minor and major seconds, how to hear the difference and more. Hear and see the hip grooves demonstrated and dive into one of my favorite ways to shed intervals: by repeating the interval over and over. In the case of the seconds this makes for a few great symmetric scales. Check out the first one of them, built on all half steps (ie, minor seconds): the chromatic scale. As always I think practicing is the most fun when you make music with the concept. Enjoy!

I use Marleaux Basses and Dean Markley Strings. TC ElectronicsPedals, cabs and amps! Fretwrap byGruvgear.
(Ariane Cap is an official endorser for all these fine companies.)
Thanks to for audio post production.


Hello, welcome to Bass Bit #8!

We are going to move to the seconds today. But there is so much to say about the seconds – it’s just gonna be “Seconds: Part One”. Seconds come in two sizes: they come as major seconds and they come as minor seconds. I want to show you – check on page number 24 – the different ways on fingering the seconds. So I can finger like this: I’m gonna play from B to C. I can play a minor second that’s just one fret, right? I can play that on the same string with the following fingering: [playing: 0.48 to 0.52] 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and 3 to 4.

[playing: 0.55 to 0.59] Okay? I recommend you don’t do this unless you have a reason for it. Sometimes we can use these sorts of configurations as a pivot [playing: 1.03 to 1.24] points to get into a different area of the bass without losing our position, without looking at the fret board. So I am not saying to never do that but, rather, have a good reason for it.

Okay. I’m showing you – as I’m talking – how you can move your position. I call this sideways movements “The Crab”. We’ll have lots more on those coming at us. So, typically [playing: 1.29 to 1.31] don’t skip a finger.

Note names would be B to C [playing: 1.33 to 1.34]. If I call it B to B#, it’s an augmented prime; it’s not a second. If I call it B to C, then it’s a minor second.

[playing: 1.43 to 1.44] I can also play B to C with two different strings. However, in that case, I will have to stretch. [playing: 1.50 to 2.04] That means I have to go over one fret like that. Doable! And, I recommend you practice it a little bit to get that distance under your belt because oftentimes when you’re reading music and not looking at the fret board, it is really helpful to know where to go if you need to execute a minor second between two strings!

Now for the major second. Now that’s obviously two frets. By the way, this is [playing: 2.19 to 2.21] a minor second up, and this is [playing: 2.22 to 2.23] a minor second down. Ascending [playing: 2.23 to 2.24], descending [playing: 2.24 to 2.25]. I’m going this way, right? [playing: 2.27 to 2.28] Ascending, [playing: 2.29 to 2.30] descending. I can do it between two different strings. This [playing: 2.32 to 2.34] is ascending and this [playing: 2.35 to 2.37] is descending.

Just to show you – if you’re a beginner – it really helps to think that through because it’s not always so that one direction means you’re going down and one means you’re going up. In this case [playing: 2.49 to 2.50], ascending is this way. And in this case, [playing: 2.53 to 2.54] ascending is the exact other way. So, just thought to mention this here.

Major second – [playing: 2.58 to 3.00] B to C# – that’s a major second. I can finger that like this: [playing: 3.02 to 3.03], I can finger it like this: [playing: 3.03 to 3.04], and I can also finger it like this:  [playing: 3.06 to 3.07]. Again, I should have a reason for this fingering and it is sometimes to switch position.

[playing: 3.11] That’s on the same string – B to C# – and this [playing: 3.14 to 3.22] is B to C# between two strings. So that’s a really good one to know.

[playing: 3.22 to 3.23] Ascending, [playing: 3.23 to 3.24] descending. You can hear it.

Now, what do they sound like? Minor seconds, they sound like the movie “Jaws”. Listen: [playing: 3.29 to 3.39]. Even when you do it down here, it’s even better. There it comes.

A major second sounds like the beginning of “Happy Birthday” – [playing: 3.43 to 3.47]. Right? You can also think of it this way: the major second sounds like the beginning of a major scale [playing: 3.53 to 3.57], whereas the minor second sounds like the end of a major scale [playing: 4.02 to 4.11].

What do the grooves in the book sound like? There is a minor second groove in the book on page 26. I’ll play that for you [playing: 4.20 to 4.47].

Now I want you to see the fret board as I play it [playing: 4.50 to 4.54]. The rhythm there – the dead note rhythm, in the end of that first line there – is a sixteenth note triplet that will be falling into an eighth note. So just the feel of it is: [playing: 5.08 to 5.14] 1, 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. The “ah ah ah” happens on the end of four. So 4, 4, “ah ah ah” [playing: 5.19 to 5.20], 4, *taps. And they’re dead notes so you just put the fingers down without pressing any fret. 

Major second groove – [playing: 5.29 to 5.50]. The major second groove, I want you to see me play that one – [playing: 5.54 to  6.05].

Again those little x’s mean dead notes and the rhythm there on the last part may seem a little complicated but just by listening to them, I’m sure that you can figure it out [playing: 6.16 to 6.21].

Okay? A bunch of exercises are in the book on how to practice your seconds. This I wanna demonstrate.

What I always like to do with intervals to really practice them is to keep repeating the interval. Now I can repeat just the minor second over and over and that gives me a certain scale. It’s called the chromatic scale. And I’ll show you in a second how I practice that. Then I can also repeat the major seconds and that gives me another scale. It’s called the whole tone scale. And then I can repeat a minor second and a major second and that gives me two more scales. And all of these scales are super exciting. They’re called symmetric scales. So you will see the examples of what I’m talking about on pages 28 and on. And I will demonstrate all of that in the upcoming bits but today, I’m going to focus on the chromatic scale. Again these scales are called symmetric scales and very accessible and they’re much more accessible when you see them on fret board diagrams rather than if you just see the notes of them because on the fret board, they are – as the name implies, symmetric – so I can move them around and do fun stuff with them pretty much right away.

I’m going to play you the chromatic scale that is in the book on page 27. It starts with the seventh fret and don’t forget – the chromatic scale is always just half step, half step, half step in succession over and over and over. So it doesn’t sound like it has a beginning or an end, like a regular major scale would. The pattern that it makes is really accessible, you play [playing: 7.53 to 7.55] one finger per fret on the E string you started on the seventh fret, and then you just scoot down [playing: 8.01] because I need to go another half step. Right?

[playing: 8.03 to 8.12] So, I’m gonna go to the next string and I come up with this pattern. In the book I show going all the way up until I hit the highest note. And descending – [playing: 8.16 to 8.23].

So there’s more than one way to skin the cat. Important is, that at some point you got to have to switch between strings; and I like to do it in such a fashion that I always have four per string and once I’m done with that long string, there’s no way around doing at least one string in the long way especially if I’m going over that many octaves.

That was part one of the seconds. There will be another Bass Bit that will be talking about more symmetric scales that we can build from the seconds. So stay tuned and I’ll see you next time. Thanks for watching.  

Bass Bit 7: Interval: Prime – Fingering, Rockgrooves, Tips (BB#7)

Not prime ribs… Prime tips!

This blog post contains the highlights of the interval that is called the prime. It sheds light on the question what a unison is, how to finger primes and how to play a few cool rock grooves built on primes. Check them out in my book, Music Theory for the Bass Player, too. Lots more exercises there as well, also using your voice!
Many rock grooves are basically pumping eighth notes in the interval of the prime. To execute them evenly so they really groove is not as easy as it may look. Check out a few tips for clean and groovy eighth note grooves.
Grab your bass and let’s play!

The First Interval: The Prime!


Clarifying terminology:
The prime is the same note on the same instrument.
The unison is when two instruments play the same note. As a bass player I can play a unison with myself.
I use Marleaux Basses and Dean Markley Strings. TC ElectronicsPedals, cabs and amps! Fretwrap byGruvgear.
(Ariane Cap is an official endorser for all these fine companies.)
Thanks to for audio post production.


[Intro playing: 0.00 to 0.10]

Cheers! Hello, this is Bass Bit #7 and this is Ariane. Today, we’re gonna be talking about the first of the intervals. We’re now knee deep into music theory. Intervals – the smallest building blocks that are at the root of all chords, scales, what have you – all musical structures! So we do well to know how they’re built on the bass, what fingerings to use, what they sound like, and what to do with them.

So here we go.

The first interval we’re going to talk about is the prime or the unison. The prime or the unison is basically the same note. Now, every single interval can be played either harmonically or melodically. Harmonically means that I’m playing the two notes that make up the interval at the same time. So, I’ll give you an example, for example, the major third (we will get to it soon). So, just as an example, I’m playing the major third harmonically, meaning at the same time [playing: 1.03 to 1.04] and if I play the same interval melodically, it means I’m playing it one note [playing 1.08 to 1.10] after the other just like [playing 1.11 to 1.12]  a melody. Right?

If I play one and the same note at the same time, I cannot do that on all instruments. On the piano I can’t do that. There I have one key for one and the same note. I would need two pianos in order to play that same note as a unison. On the bass however, because I have the same note in different locations, I can very well do that. For example, I will be demonstrating that with this C2 [playing 1.39 to 1.41] and this one I tap right here. Or, I can even stretch [playing 1.43 to 1.47] my hand to play that G in unison for example. If I wanna play it as a prime [playing 1.53 to 1.55], then I would be playing it one note at a time.

And that is at the heart of a lot of grooves. Keep in mind, the prime is not the octave; they are related. We’ll talk about that later. Two C’s [playing 2.05 to 2.06] like that, that would  be two different Cs – [playing 2.09] that’s C2 and [playing 2.10] that’s C3. But if I’m playing the same – [playing 2.13 to 2.16] – that’s in unison. Okay?

The prime is one of those intervals that do not occur as major or minor. They occur as perfect or pure. Now, of course, I can make everything that’s perfect or pure bigger by a half step and if I name it correctly, it’s still gonna be a prime even though it doesn’t sound like the same pitch. So what I mean by that is this is: [playing 2.38 to 2.39] prime C, right? [playing 2.41 to 2.42] I’m playing the same note twice, C – C . It’s a prime.

Now I’m gonna play an augmented prime: [playing 2.46 to 2.48] C – C#. Okay? Sounds like a minor second but in order for it to be a minor second, I would have to call it [playing 2.54 to 2.56] C to D flat because: C – D – that’s two! If I call it C to C#, then it’s just C that I have in the name. Okay? So I talked about that last time a little bit, too.

And then we have [playing 3.08 to 3.10] C to C flat – which of course would be the diminished prime. Not very practical but again one of those things that if you understand it, wrap your mind around it, then it helps you gain an understanding of how music works and how the bass works.

How do you finger the prime? Well you can play [playing 3.24 to 3.43] that same note with each finger that is the illustration on page 22 and I’m just demonstrating here. You can play that note with every single fret and I would encourage you to do that. You know, I’m just moving around to see what that feels like.

There are a few examples of grooves in the book and I will play them for you right now – [playing 3.51 4.08]. I want you to see just the written note part of the groove example as I’m doing it on the fret board. So – [playing 4.14 to 4.24].

Okay? So that would be the prime rock groove [playing 4.27 to 4.32]. And then there’s the prime horse groove which sort of has this rhythm of the running horse hence the name. That “HO” there in the beginning is a hammer on [playing 4.42]

[playing 4.44] Tone production happens with the left hand [playing 4.46]. [playing 4.47 to 4.57] A lot can be said about the groove of the prime because a lot of rock grooves are played with pumping eighth notes. To play pumping eighth notes really well is actually not an easy task. We’re talking about this more when we get to the technique chapter. What I’ll tell you – how to get eighth notes [playing 5.19 to 5.27]  in a row to sound a little more steady. So here are a few tricks of the trade that you can use.

One for example is – the goal of pumping eighth notes like you have them in a lot of rock grooves [playing 3.32 to 3.36]. It’s a really powerful thing but they have to be even in order to be grooving.

There are a couple of tricks. One is you want to be aware of how long the notes are – [playing 5.44 to 5.54] So if you have a click, right now I’m cutting the note off right in the middle – 1, 1 and 2, and 1 and 2, and 1 and 2, and 1 and 2.

Right, [playing 5.54 to 6.01]. I’m playing it legato. You know – like this. Or cut off in the middle and I can mute either with my left hand by lifting [playing 6.02 to 6.05] it slightly or I can do the stopping [playing 6.07 to 6.15] with my right hand and keep the left down.

And then the other thing I wanna do in order to make these notes sound as clean as possible – You see, those two fingers have different lengths, right? So if I just bring the string to them, I’m gonna make an indent then I can show you. You see where the indentation is, right?

On this finger – it will just grab a little bit of flesh, and on this finger – it will grab much more flesh. No wonder, then, that [playing 6.46 to 6.51] if I just come in like this, one will be sounding much louder because there’s more mass there. In order to combat that, a neat trick is to tilt those two fingers a little bit this way – [playing 6.59 to 7.02] – and that way I get about the same amount of flesh hitting the string.

Another trick is – [playing 7.07 to 7.15]. I wanna see to stay as close to the same spot as possible. So that creates a little bit of this [playing 7.18 to 7.23] almost a Figure 8.

And then another thing I do a lot – especially on the studio – if I wanna get it real clean [playing 7.29 to 7.35] – I’ll just play with one finger. Usually I don’t like doing that and I trained myself not to, so I have this automated process going on so I don’t have to decide which finger I’m gonna use. But [playing 7.42 to 7.52] in terms of if there are eighth note grooves, then I might do that and just stay on one finger. Depending on if I don’t want a legato, I might mute it [playing 7.54 to 7.56] then with my left hand.

So, just thought I’d mention that because to play eighth notes cleanly, it’s time worth spent to record yourself, listen to it. You can even see it in the wave form – if one is smaller and the other one is bigger you can clearly see that you’re dynamics aren’t even.

And that’s the prime and the unison. A few more exercises in the book you can check out. And as bass players we do really well to put some time into steady eighth note grooves so I very much recommend that – prime and unison.


Pentatonic Playground for Bass – Special Holiday Discount!

Pssssst… I have a little holidayadvent discount gift for you: readers of my blog can now get 15% discount on my course “Pentatonic Playground for Bass”.  Order by clicking through below and using the code AdventatonicPG
However you are spending and celebrating the holidays, I hope they are filled with family, friends, music and joy.
Discount will be computed at check out.

Offer ending soon. Happy Holidays!

If you have been curious about the “pattern system’ I often talk about – this course contains the patterns for the pentatonics, for starters. Pentatonics are super important for the bass player. The level of this course is intermediate.
“Pentatonics are powerful building blocks for hip grooves, exciting fills, cool solos and catchy melodies for blues, jazz, rock, pop, country, latin and virtually any contemporary style of music. In this course, I’ll show you five very versatile pentatonic shapes and then give you a systematic approach for applying those five shapes, all over the neck, in a variety of musical contexts.”


The discount code again: AdventatonicPG

The Bass I use in this video series is a Votan Marleaux XS.

Permutation Variation (TT#2)

As you get fitter permutating the fingers of your left hand, let’s use the permutation exercises creatively on some symmetric scales. Enjoy!

Post on Episode 2 Talking Technique: Permutation Variation

The permutation exercise can be played to drill down on lots of different fingerings that come in handy. We’ll be practicing the concept across strings and by implementing it with the whole tone and half-whole diminished scales.
Be ready to get those fingers working, and don’t miss out on today’s tip! Continue reading “Permutation Variation (TT#2)”