I’m stuck

Even though I’ve been playing for a while I still get stuck inside certain scales. Right now it’s the minor pentatonic. What should I do?


Hej @Janus, it would probably be helpful if you put a few more words on your challenge… what exactly do you mean by getting “stuck inside”?


What happens is that everything I write or whenever I improvise, I just can’t seem do do it very well in any other scale. It’s become habit just to revert to the minor pentatonic, even without knowing it. I want to break that habit.


Ah, OK! Well, first of all, nothing’s really wrong with the minor pentatonic… I guess more than 80% of popular music is sustained by it :wink:

But, I understand. Maybe you need to give yourself little tasks where you use, say, the mixolydian scale instead of the parallel minor penta, and whenever you notice falling back to the penta scale, you stop and re-start.
Or, start with smaller motifs - only three note motifs allowed, for instance. And use not those that are already in the penta scale - perhaps using those not in the penta will get you more used to another scale.

Small steps - this usually can’t be forced :smile:


When it happened to me I tried to listen and more importantly play other favorite artists. They have their go to scale/mode style fills.

Are you having trouble during solo?

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How about looking at the relationships between a Major key and its relative minor key using the circle of 4/5ths. Just pick one and play with the Major pentatonic and Minor. You have the same notes plus overlapping notes. Play a Major C Pentatonic and an A NAtural minor Pentatonic. Understand the relationship. Write it out on staff paper. Look at it, play it. Utlize it. When you get it, move on to the next Major/Minor Key relationship.


Yeah, Like I said, when I improvise, it’s all using the minor pentatonic. Solos that I improvise have it written all over them.

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Wow! Well, usually when I’m stuck I’m looking for the next best to copy, lol. Their licks plus my preference usually come out ok. I know that Pino like to use a variation of Locrian mode which sounds very organic and seamless when incorporated into the everyday chords progression. When I’m all out I just add numbers 9th, 11th or whatever most time is just sexy enough to fake it, lol.

95% of the time your audience can’t tell it’s the rare occasions when you have bass theorists in the audience, and when that happens nothing you do would impress them, as they think they can do better, lol.


I completely understand this, and feel it deeply!

A few questions, and a few suggestions.

What kind of music are you listening to on the regular?
What kind of music are you working on learning/playing?

If the music you listen to and play doesn’t push your ear past the minor pentatonic (which is basically all you need for most pop/funk/soul top-40 songs) you’re going to have a hard time convincing your ears that you want to hear/play something different.

If you get into music that uses other sounds regularly (classical/jazz/fusion/etc) you might find more things to practice, and more sounds that will move you out of that Minor Pentatonic Zone.


I do enjoy listening to fusion and jazz occasionally, and classical music is also pretty good, I think but maybe my struggle comes from listening to rock and metal primarily.

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I think you might need to find a few songs out there that have sounds that are interesting to you but aren’t necessarily in your wheelhouse and focus there.
I don’t know what those songs would be…

But bass versions of classical melodies are always fun.
Video game themes are fun.
Famous guitar lines re-arranged are fun.
Or some Jaco, some Jamerson, some classic bass lines by the gods of bass?
Maybe take a week to do a listening quest for some weird pieces to work on just to stretch the ears.

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