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E Major Scale Exercise for 5 String Bass

man playing 5 string bass

This post lays out a simple E Major scale exercise for 5 string bass players. We have two primary goals. First, utilize the low ‘B’ string and avoid the open ‘E.’ Second, break out of the standard single-position “box” model and start moving up and down the fretboard.

Before playing the notes on your bass, take a minute to review the score and tablature (tab). Click the score to make it larger.

E Major Score and Tab for 5 String Bass

Notice our use of consistent fretting-hand fingerings across all five strings. The idea is to make our pattern relatively easy to remember and to minimize any uncomfortable stretches. In this case (the Major scale, or Ionian mode), we apply the 1-2-4 fingering, or Index, Middle, Pinky.

We have annotated each note with the appropriate letter name – E, F#, G#, etc. Each root note, E, is colored green. Shift points are annotated with “slide” markings, i.e., shift up /, and shift down \. For this scale, we always shift on the Index finger. I recommend starting by plucking each note. Then try sliding into the notes following the shift points for more of a legato feel.

Check out our companion YouTube video with a backing click and drum track:

If you found this major scale exercise for 5 string bass useful, or if you have suggestions on how to improve it, please leave a comment.

Next Step: F# Dorian Scale Exercise for 5 String Bass

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