Scale Pattern Work for Bassists

I have mentioned previously that daily scale practice should include scale patterns, and indeed most scale books devote some space to such patterns. There are, of course, innumerable patterns that we can apply, but certain scalar patterns occur more frequently than others in the music we play.

Although the number of possible patterns are seemingly limitless, I have found that the patterns below are a good place to start those just beginning to explore this type of scale practice.

Follow along using the notation below, or download the scale pattern exercises in PDF format.

A few notes:

  1. The patterns are presented in C major, but should be applied to every major and minor scale
  2. They should be adjusted to your current technical level (e.g. played in 1, 2, 3 or more octaves as appropriate to your technique)
  3. There are any variety of fingerings that can be applied to these patterns. However, I suggest that you play, at a minimum, two notes in a position before shifting.
  4. Whatever fingering you decide upon, keep it consistent so that you obtain maximum benefit from your practice. Once you have mastered a specific fingering, feel free to change it up and master the next one. Don’t move too quickly, but don’t get mired down on a single fingering either.
  5. Keep it slow. Only work the tempo up, (slowly!) after you are comfortable with the patterns.
  6. Repetition is key, as is fluidity of movement.


Scale Pattern Work for Bassists

Dr. Donovan Stokes is on the faculty of Shenandoah University-Conservatory. Visit him online at and check out the Bass Coalition at

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  1. Excellent… Thanks a lot, No Treble!

  2. Always something new and interesting.Compatible to all levels of proficiency. Big thanks.

  3. Art

    These are very useful exercises. Can I request more such scale pattern exercises?