What Scales to Use over a Blues (not just Blues Scales)

Word Art Blues Scales

What to use – over a blues – when you are tired of blues scales…

I got a question in  about scales to use for soloing over a blues but not just using blues scales. I could not help but add a bit of a caveat; because sometimes thinking only about what notes to use can land us forgetting about the story the blues tends to tell. That said, there are some great scales one can use over the blues and especially Robben Ford’s dim-dom scale lends a great colorful sound to the blues.

What scales  do you use over the blues?

How do you think about the blues?

Who are your favorite blues artists?

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Read Ariane Cap‘s answer to What other scales can you use to improvise Blues? on Quora

Ari at Truefire LIVE

truefire liv

Tune in, Ask Questions, Connect!

Truefire Live is an interactive live broadcast  – a seminar with live Q & A. Since this is my first one, I cannot tell you exactly how it works, but knowing Truefire, the tech end will be super easy, clean and smooth! Bookmark the link on the bottom!

I have a course out with Truefire.com – Pentatonic Playground for Bass. You can purchase the download or get the DVD. I am very proud of this course and to be a Truefire educator! Truefire is a true educational powerhouse and one of the first at that.

Please join me for this online event. I want to make it interactive and get to as many of your questions as possible.

3 Awesome Tools to Spice up Your Practice (for Guitarists and Bassists)

There is a good reason scales and arpeggios are essential mainstays of any meaningful practice regimen: they will improve your playing and understanding of music measurably. Now, wherever you are on your journey mastering these elements, here are some awesome practicing tools for you!
Don’t miss:

  • The one gadget that turns any stale scales practice into super sounding music: how to use it, how it works, and how to have hours of fun with the basics, yet sounding like a jaw-dropping virtuoso
  • An exercise that puts any theoretical concept into a musical context. You won’t want to stop practicing using this fun idea!
  • An awesome way to practice without your instrument. (Even advanced players are often stumped by this, yet it is so simple!)

Click on the link below to watch recording.



Is E# a chord?

E# Esharp

E# – Maybe not so Sharp?

Got a question, here is my answer. The short answer is, well sort of: musicians would know what to do when encountering an E# triad, but a knowledgable musician would not use this naming and there are some great reasons for that. These reasons all go back to

  • understanding intervals
  • understanding the cycle of fifths

My off-the-wall awesome wall chart definitely shows you all the pieces of theory behind this at one glance 🙂

It really does pay off to know how to name your chords and scales correctly. It makes your life much easier! 

Read Ariane Cap’s answer to Is E# a chord? on Quora

Read the article and then tell me – is there an E# minor triad? Hint: not on the first scale degree, but maybe, looking at the cycle of fifths, you can find a key that it might be part of? Remember, minor scale degrees are on the second, third and sixth scale degrees… If you treat this question like a Sudoku, meaning using the process of elimination – you can find it 🙂

If D minor and F major contain all the same notes, do they have all the same chords? (Yes, but watch Chord Functions!)

Tapping Chord functions

Well, yes, BUT: there is a crucial difference to understand….

and that difference lies in chord functions. It is all in how notes relate to what is perceived as “home”. In this article I lay out all the reasons why it is very important to distinguish between major and minor key signatures, even though the notes are technically the same. If you play music, compose music or like to understand what you listen to better: understanding that distinction is a must! Plus, all the beautiful sounds that come from it… they sound so familiar, don’t they?

Enjoy the read and practice your diatonic cycles. I know no better practice to wrap your mind around music theory than shedding the diatonic cycle. It is on the wall chart, it is in your favorite songs, it’s been used since Bach’s time, and if you crack it, your confidence in terms of listening and playing will soar! The most important pieces are right there in this article. To practice it with the wall chart, follow the steps in this video.  In my 20-unit Music Theory course, we do the diatonic cycle in the most important keys all over the fretboard! We follow a simple formula that opens this up for you. Participants tell us they love these exercises.

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Read Ariane Cap‘s answer to If D minor and F major contain all the same notes, do they have all the same chords? on Quora

Quiet E string? Bass not sounding balanced?

quiet E string

Is your Bass sounding Timid and Quiet on one particular string?

In a bass we want as balanced a sound as possible. If one of the strings is by its nature on the skimpy side, that can be a problem, especially for the fat E. Or the low B on a five. Keep in mind that every neck will have a few dead spots, places where notes do not speak as well as others. That is the nature of a wooden neck.

But sometimes this issue can be so pronounced that it is a problem. Keeping in mind that lower notes without amplification will cut through less by their very nature, let’s take a listen at our bass. In order to diagnose this, play without an amp and hold your ear to the bass. Pluck each of the strings with as equal strength as possible and listen. Do they sound in the ballpark the same, with the lower notes just a little softer than the higher ones? Or is there a marked difference, also in the way the strings ring out?

By doing this you can probably diagnose any potential problem.

In the article are a few things you can try if your bass has that issue. Especially if you bought it used, there may be something going on that you never noticed.

As always, I recommend a good set up. You can learn to do it yourself or bring it to a trusted shop.
Good strings are important. I boil mine to prolong their life. I use alcohol, but someone recently recommended vinegar. Worth a try. Pickled strings, why not?! Plus, I have a gas stove and that string boiling procedure always makes me a bit antsy, flammable and all!

READ HERE: (If you cannot see the preview click here for my response)

Read Ariane Cap‘s answer to The E string on my bass guitar is quiet even when it’s unplugged. Is there a way I can solve this? on Quora

Beautiful Practice in Minor

Beautiful PRactice in Minor

Beautiful Practice in Minor

Remember Beautiful Practice? I did this exercise in major and it made a favorites’ list on notreble. So I thought I bring it back, this time as Beautiful Practice in Minor.

One of my personal favorites, it is so cool because

  • it is a heck of a mental workout,
  • as well as a wicked technique drill,
  • and it sounds so great!

Let’s check out  Beautiful Practice in Minor!! It sounds like Bach, yet it is “just” a very strategic exercise playing through diatonic triads!

I not only follow the strict rules of the diatonic cycle, I also submit myself to strict rules of my “pattern system” ( the book is in the works!!) – so I play it in all five positions on the bass (according to the pattern system), thereby nailing all possible options. I explain it all step by step and this PDF on Beautiful Practice in Major will help you out!

Hours of thought and preparation go into all my videos. Beautiful practice in particular took much thinking things through, – there is a lot that goes into this little exercise:

  • diatonic chords in a minor context
  • diatonic chords in the order of falling fifths (or ascending fourths, if you prefer)
  • spread out voicings
  • the pattern system – playing all over the neck

Please check out my course for a systematic, step by step way to learn how to do this. I will be with you every step of the way.

Here is the post on notreble.

And by the way – looking for advice on how to do the Hocket delay? That video is here:

Hocket Video for you

I play my Marleaux Consat Five String

Dean Markley SR 2000 strings

Fretwrap by Gruvgear (not in use on this one)

TC Electronic Delay Pedal

Sound by Wolf Wein (cool plug in, aye? It is all bass!)

Doing a Clinic Near You?

Online is great – but in person is best

Big thanks to Shaana and Bananas at Large  in San Rafael for putting today’s clinic on! Cheers to everyone who came out to join me for two hours straight of music theory talk, technique talk, pedal talk, “beautiful practice” talk… We went through a lot of topics and playing and I had prepared materials for download for everyone.

After the clinic a few attendees joined up with me for a cup around the corner. I am always amazed at the variety of bass players one may encounter: We had a Ubass player who is the only bassist in a room with 40 other ukuleles. And other flavors of bassists and guitarists.

If you have a favorite bass store and would like me to do a clinic there, please contact us! We are currently booking a “playing, book and wall chart” tour.

A day of bass spent with bassists from all corners of California (and beyond, one attendee from Germany!). That was a great Sunday!


When I got home this dude was walking down the street. He definitely was not at the clinic. Not sure if he is a bass player or not. But he was certainly  cool like one. He probably knew he had nothing to fear from vegetarian me…

Happy Walls… The Wall Chart (AKA Music Theory Cheat Sheet)


The wall chart – AKA the Music Theory Cheat Sheet – has arrived on walls all over the globe…

New orders are pouring in every day. We have shipped to 17 countries and 35 US states so far. The pre-order phase has passed, but you can order it here.

Did you pre-order? A big huge thank you for pre-ordering, if you did! Without pre-orders such an ambitious and difficult project would not have been possible. It took us four months of designing, testing, re-designing, dealing with printing, shipping and fulfilling (with lots going not as planned). If you were one of the early adopters: thank you very much for helping make this possible! If you all are interested I will post a behind-the-scenes saga of the wall chart. All that can go wrong and did and all you never thought could possibly go wrong and still did. Still, we managed to ship on time. Our house was full to the ceiling with tubes and boxes… Needless to say we made it and your pre-orders really helped make it happen!

I have created a three part tutorial that will help you use the wall chart most effectively: three videos, 45 minutes total of effective wall staring-instructions!

Check out the videos on

I am very happy how the chart has been received so far.

Many people tell me

  • they really like having the foundations of music theory in one place,
  • that it saves them a lot of thumping through the book when they want to make connections between the material,
  • and that it is great to have all the concepts at one glance,
  • and also that seeing the fundamentals of music theory laid out on an 18 by 27 chart really makes it less intimidating!

The wall chart is now up on amazon.com and of course also still available here on this site.

If you got a cool wall, a funky frame, a hip wall clock right next to it… please send. I love seeing them happy walls all over the world…

Here is a happy UK wall, big thanks to Barry Skeates!


Ari’s Interval Formula for the Bass Player Explained

Ari's Interval Formula

The Interval Formula started with me calling an octave a “2 by 2” and a fifth a “2 by 1″…

A “2×2” is a mnemonic for one great way of fingering the octave on the bass: two frets over, two strings over. Same principle for the fifth…

Mnemonics rock my world when teaching because they drive complex matters home fast (See my articles on mnemonics, Part 1 and Part 2).

While designing the wall chart (AKA the Music Theory Cheat Sheet!), there was color coding involved and arrows and fingerings and the light bulb went off: why not take this concept all the way and apply this idea to all intervals!

The results are great, because once again, thinking of intervals this way (ie: measured on the fret board!) really drives home:

  • how notes relate
  • the way intervals work
  • how strings relate to each other
  • best fingerings for intervals
  • and it creates a productive way to practice the intervals

The Wall Chart features the interval formula in a color coded fashion, complete with best-practice fingerings, numbers of half steps and most important ways to finger them.

Best way to work with it? pick an interval a day and wrap your mind around it. Theory needs practice (its name, then, is really deceiving 😉 )

I have created 45 minutes of video to go with the wall chart. Overview, exercises and one on the epic IF – Interval Formula.

Interval are the basic building blocks of music theory – if you are able to find them on the fretboard, it really pays off: for scales, triads, chords, but also extensions, alterations, compound intervals… it all starts with the basic intervals within the octave. 0 to 12 half steps. Know them on the bass with good fingering, who and how they work and you have a huge leg up. It is necessary to practice them a bit, so that’s where the chart comes in handy. This video shows practice suggestions.   This one gives an overview.

But now check out the video on the Interval Formula here:

Bay Area Peeps, Watch Ari Go Bananas!

bananas clinic ariane Cap

Hi Bay Area Friends,

I will be doing a rare in-person clinic with Q&A, book signing and wall chart signing at one of my favorite Bay Area Music Stores, Bananas at Large in San Rafael.

Some FAQs about the event:

Bring instrument?

Come to just listen or bring your bass to play along, plug in or not, up to you. But if you bring it, you will probably enhance your learning experience. Most likely we won’t have everyone plug in, but I encourage everyone to play along.

What levels?

If I say all levels will get something out of this, it may sound impossible. However, I mean it, because I show you productive ways to practice music theory and use it in grooves, solos and fills. If you are more advanced, pull from your more advanced pallet, and move all over the fretboard. If you are just learning the basics, you can stick to the more foundational ideas. I will be presenting concepts that make music theory practice accessible and useful. And they are easy to do, sound great and are very practical. My goal is for you to take home a few core concepts that you can immediately use in your practice or rehearsal room.

Any pre-requesites?

Just have passion and interest in learning the bass. I start out with a very basic exercise that sometimes even stumped the best of em. Yet, this exercise addresses something that often confuses beginners. It will be productive, I promise, and I never put anyone on the spot.

This clinic is free. Made possible by Bananas at Large.