Right I don't think I understand scales right, I've been playing for almost a year and never got to understand scales. From what I think I understand so far, a scale is made up of a set of notes that work well together, rather than playing along random notes. If I am wrong can someone explain but please put it simple as possible, I have autism and so will probably get confused if you say it in a complex way.
To put it simply, a musical scale is a group of musical notes that are ordered according to pitch. There is certainly some very complex theory behind scales, but to boil it down to its most basic factor, a scale is a group of notes that sound "good" (consonant) together, whereas notes that are not arranged in scales often sound "off" or "bad" (dissonant).

Scales usually run a single octave. The major scale begins and ends on the same note: the "root" note (the first one you play) on the lowest string, and the final note which is the same note, but an octave higher. The major scale is your basic "Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do" scale.

I hope this helps.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
You got it Robert2511..
Think of an organized combination of notes.
These combinations have a name and sound associated with them.
Yes, a scale is a group of notes with a pattern.
The patterns are constructed with either half steps or whole steps, sometimes even a larger interval gap.
So an interval is the space between notes...think of frets..
The space between an open E and the first fret F on the E string is a half step.
If you go from open E to 2 frets up to an F#, that makes a whole step.
Is this making sense so far?
Thanks, if so, I'll continue further..
What's also important is that when you play your scales, make sure you groove and play them with a rhythm that is cool..
See you later..
What a good question.

There is a whole lot of complexity behind the answer, you may still be learning new things about scales for many years to come. There are many different scales, luckily in most music we use only two or three. The major scale the minor scale and the mixolydian used in a lot of blues or rock.

The basis of scales is in the physics of vibrating musical instruments. In our case when you pluck a string in the middle it will vibrate at a particular note. If you fret it in the middle then it vibrates at exactly twice the frequency making the same note at a higher pitch, the octave above.

If you played a fretless instrument you could make an infinite number of notes in between. That won't work if you want to play with other instruments which can only have fixed notes, like a piano or saxophone. You have to agree what the notes are.

In the west we have settles on dividing the octave into 12 semitones and 8 notes. (8 notes if you count the root note twice, the starting note and the octave). These notes make up the scale. Other countries use other scales, traditional Indian music uses a 22 tone scale.

With all those semitones to play with and only 7 or 8 notes it means there are many scales possible depending upon the intervals, where you have a semitone gap and where you put a two semitone gap. Some of these scales sound good, the three I mentioned that are used most often, some sound a bit odd and some sound awful.

Each song will normally have all the notes coming from a single scale all the way through. the melody will only use the scale notes and the chords will be made up of scale tones too.

C is the simplest example, the notes for the major scale are CBDEFGABC. If you play in C then you usually use the chords of G (chord tones are GBD), F (FAC) and Am (ACE) with the chord of C (CGE).

So learning your scales will mean you will know from the key of the song which notes to play and which to avoid. Playing scales will help you find the notes quickly and smoothly. Knowing the musical theory behind scales will stop you wasting time chasing the wrong chords when you try to figure out a song and will help you find new chords if you get around to writing your own songs.

I hope this helps.
Last edited by Phil Starr at Apr 22, 2015,
Thanks to everyone who replied, every reply has been very helpful and helped me understand what exactly scales are, don't get why everywhere else I looked can't put it simply like this, thanks again to each of you.
One thing that helped me was having played guitar I was familiar with chord structures, this is what I based my playing on back then and this is what I still do today.
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Robert, Phil has given an excellent direction in understanding scales, yet a bit complex.

If you go to a keyboard and find a C Note, you can play a Major scale very easily, and it will demonstrate to you why the structure of a Major Scale is always the same in intervals from note to note.

Starting from that C play only white keys to the Right 7 More times and you will end on C one(1) octave higher.

You have just played the C Major Scale. The consonance of this scale has set the standard for the Major Scale Intervals.

So, there were 8 White Keys in this scale, and 5 Black Keys that you skipped over. Each of those Black Keys counted for a Semitone, which on the Bass Guitar is the equivalent to a Fret.

This is why in playing the C Major Scale you will skip some frets that will not be played, in order to make the consonance of the C Major Scale.

The Piano offsets these semitones, the Guitar is Chromatic, it cannot as you are playing on a straight line of string.

Here is a Neat Trick to learn this from the Minor, go to that C note.
Move your Finger to the left 2 Keys.
You are now on A.

Just like with C, play each successive White Key 7 More times. You will now have played the A minor scale.

NOTICE how the Black Keys fall in a different pattern between A to A1(Ocrave) and C to C1.
The offest of semitones have made this not only possible, but functional child's play.

It was Consonance from the perspective of C which dictated the Black and White Key separation pattern. (Why it was not A, i do not know so please do not make me look stupid by asking.)

If the Beginning of a Scale is a Root(or Tonic, I prefer Tonic myself as it better translates into the actual names of the intervals of the scale which you will get ambushed with in Theory class) which =R
and a Semitone/or the next Fret = S
and 2 Semitines/or moving up 2 Frets = W

A Major Scale on the Bass will always be, no matter what Key you begin with =

A Minor Scale will always then be =

Some use the terms Half/Whole Step. I find this vague and confusing in light of the chromatic nature of the line of a string. The term does not reasonably translate in logic to the fingerboard, but alas here is the code in that terminology.



Translating this back to the Key board in either the C Major or A Minor Scale, at ever place you see a "W" a Black Key was skipped over, without exception.

The fastest way to teach you to finger a Major Scale is, Select a fret on either of the two lowest strings A or E

Begin with the Bird Finger (2) [index="1 Ring=3 Pinky =4"]
Now play -
24 (Change String up) 124 (Change String up) 134 That is it, You are done.

Minor? Well the easiest way to cheat one of those out is Select a fret on either of the two lowest strings A or E

Begin with the Index Finger (1)
134 (Change String up) 134 (Change String up) 13

For AllState Jazz Ensemble, High Schools for the Performing Arts, and College Level entry auditions, you will be asked to play these patterns, even begin them on the E string and extend them into the G as far as you can go without shifting position of your hand.

They will also ask you to play the scale beginning on a note other than the Root/Tonic.

So learning all of the patterns will sharpen you and keep this instrument challenging.

[By the way, in Percussion 101 in University, I taught a Dyslexic woman a code so that she could learn the Bossa Nova Beat and pass the test. I created it for me, she scored better than I did.]
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Last edited by Sliide90027 at Apr 25, 2015,