Improvising: Scale Substitutions for Bass

In this new lesson, we’ll cover some tips on soloing over changes. In the video below, you’ll see that I’m playing chords through a looper, to create the pattern to play against.

We start with a D Major scale, over an E minor chord, which is the Dorian mode.

The scale:
D E F# G A B C#

Then, the D Major triad:
D F# A

Followed by the D Major Pentatonic scale:
D E F# A B

Once you’ve become comfortable with this concept, it is time to start improvising.

The A Major pentatonic scale can also be applied to these same changes. Our notes:
A B C# E F#

We can also look at the A Major pentatonic scale as the F# minor pentatonic scale:
F# A B C# E

Once you’ve become comfortable with these new choices, you can experiment with the combination in your improvisation.

If you’d like to get more into more depth with substitutions, you’ll want to take a look at Substituting Pentatonic Scales on a Minor 7 Progression.

Note: My speaking volume is fairly low on this one, so we’ve added subtitles to the video.

For more great bass lessons from Thomas "MarloweDK" Risell, visit

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Share your thoughts

  1. Cool! In particular, I love that F# pentatonic scale thrown over those chords.

  2. Link saved for future practice sessions!

  3. Isn’t D mixolydian the one that goes over E minor(Aolean)?Shouldn’t the C be natural?