SBL Fretboard Challenge

So I see something on YouTube at the beginning of the week saying that Scott was running 3 live sessions this week on how to learn the fretboard. Now I’m not all that good at remembering all the notes in that mysterious region beyond the 5th fret so I thought that this would be very helpful.

Then all he does is waffle on about triads on day 1, followed by more waffle about triads on day 2, and yet more waffle about triads on day 3. And all the time just noodling around on his bass and nodding his head. Apparently scales and modes don’t matter, neither does resolving to the root note.

In the end all I got was high blood pressure. If I’d paid for this I would be well cheesed off by now.

Anybody else watch it and have any comments?


OK, I weigh in, even though I should probably keep my mouth shut.

I just don’t understand the constant bashing of SBL here… It is totally fair to not like (perhaps to dislike) Scott and his mannerisms, his teaching style, his increasingly annoying marketing, etc etc, but why bash him all the time. Just ignore the site, and move on to something else. Luckily, there is so much to choose from out there!

Also, this was a free “webinar” series… it’s free! Take what makes sense to you; if you feel you are wasting your time, move on.

And also: fretboard knowledge is not gained within half an hour - you have to put a lot of effort into this, and whatever additional information helps you in that endeavor is welcome. But, you likely need to process and digest it, and that takes, again, time.

What Scott was trying to convey was (and this is my summary, which is based on when he did a similar thing a few weeks back):

  • guitar players play chords, hence they need to learn chords; bass players outline chords, hence they need to learn the components of a chord (chord tones = triads)

  • for most types of music (pop, rock, blues, soul, r’n’b, …) and for a bass players mostly interested in supporting and jamming (and not so much soloing), knowledge of scales and extended arpeggios (e.g. over 7th chords) is not necessary, BUT you need to know your triads!!

  • knowledge of triads should not only be based on finding the root and then playing in ascending order, but also include inversions, various directions, and over extended areas of the fretboard

  • initially, it is very beneficial to learn triads while staying within a certain area of the fretboard (i.e., frets 0-5)

That’s the gist of it, really. And, by the way, others teach similar things (like, for example, Ariane Cap, who is, I understand, very much revered in this forum).

So, imagine you knew all your triads (for major and minor chords, first of all), for all keys, and only using frets 0 to 5. If you master that, you can come up with grooves and supporting bass lines for almost every song and easily play along new chord progressions - by playing chord tones (which are the tones that make up the triads), while not having to slavishly and boringly start with the root every time. Your bass lines will be more musical.

Once you can do that, learn to do the same from frets 5-9, and then from 9-12. By learning this, you WILL get to know your fretboard, you WILL be able to play over an F minor chord, starting from the C on the third fret, in descending order when woken up at 2 am at gunpoint, and you WILL be one of the most sought-after bass players (well, if you can play in the pocket, of course :grinning:)

There is, however, and unfortunately, no magic pill to learn this in an afternoon or two. You can get pushed in the right direction, but then you need to put in the work.

Good luck!


Yeah. I just posted in another topic that I find Scott really entertaining to watch; I just don’t find his teaching style to resonate with me. Nothing wrong with that, not everyone clicks for everyone.


Ariane certainly does cover this topic. As does Mark Smith. As do many others. But the big difference is a given instructor’s style and knowledge of how to effectively impart knowledge, i.e., pedagogy. Pedagogy is a discipline in and of itself.

Some instructors are schooled in how to teach, and they know pedagogy as well as they know their instruments. Others are not, and it is evident. That said, everyone is certainly free to gravitate to whomever they choose as an instructor. The only bad bass instructor is the one who says nothing and teaches less.

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If you do the stuff he says, you’ll learn the fretboard.

It was free, what do you want?

No, scales and modes (especially) aren’t that important and the root note isn’t either; that’s why his fretboard accelerator course spends a considerable amount of time working on inversions. He’s trying to get bass players to think more like guitar players regarding chords. His approach is similar to Gary Willis and many others.


I don’t get it either… like “i hate this guy and i must seek out others who hate him too so i can validate my feelings”. I see people write that they think he’s an arrogant know it all and i just see a guy who is excited, loves to play bass and wants to pass on his knowledge to people so they have an easier/quicker time learning the things that he had to figure out the hard way. Also, he’s a business man running a business so yes, he promotes himself and his business as much as he can. Is it annoying sometimes? yes, but it’s also free, so either deal with it or move on.

I find lots of other instructors annoying, some of them like Ari i struggle through because they have something valuable to share, others i just skip completely. Everyone is different, just do what works for you.


I don’t think anyone is looking for others who “hate this guy.” Personally, I’ve posted that I find Scott to be a nice guy and great player, but his instruction style is not for me. I also feel the same way about other online bass instructors, for varying reasons.

Personally speaking, I need more from an instructor than being a nice person and/or enthusiastic about a given topic, regardless of his/her expertise.


Because relationships between humans are inherently complicated. And the relationship between a teacher and a student becomes even more nuanced, especially when the subject matter being imparted is narrowly focused, such as music.

Even more nuanced yet is the relationship between an instructor who’s attempting to teach a student not only a general knowledge of music history or theory, but the far more personal discipline of how to play an instrument: technique, dynamics, practice regimen, and psychology.

At this intrinsically personal level of relationship between teacher and student, there must be a strong connection of mind, style, and, yes, personality. If one or more of these criteria is lacking, the relationship will inevitably suffer or, worse, never come to be.

So, just as we bass players find that we bond with a particular instrument over others, the same applies to instructor(s) who either engage/inspire/entertain us, or not.

Simply put, the instructor I find most valuable might not appeal to another player, and vice versa. And that’s OK. No harm, no foul implied or intended. For each of us, it just comes down to choosing the teacher(s) with whom we can feel a meaningful relationship. Luckily, because we are in this forum, we have identified at least one, and a damn good one, at that.


The only one I have a problem with truly is James…because of his eyebrows. But his teaching is spot on.


If it’s online, and I don’tr have something positive to say, I try not to say it unless it’s gear. I try to celebrate music and keep things positive, though I stray to the dark side often to my regret.


I don’t know about SBL really, but learning to read sheet music is a very good way to learn position 1 of the fret board. You could also shift to position two, which combined is probably 95% of bass playing

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I watched these too and my first thought was that the sessions were much longer than they needed to be…but they were a webcast which a chat etc going on so i can understand he isnt going to give you three exercises in 5 minutes and then take off

I think the content was actually really good. Learning the shapes and then starting to apply these across the fretboard and practicing this in multiple ways seemed a good idea

For me it was good in showing me that the content is fine but the talky style with lots of (admittedly talentented) noodling isnt for me so ill decline the free trial of the website.

I also dont really think you can knock something thats put out for free but it was a bit long for it was


My experience with Scott’s stuff wasn’t his free videos, it was his paid lessons. No chat involved. I ended up canceling. Others might get a lot out of his teaching style and that’s perfectly fine, but it wasn’t for me. To each his/her own.


I enrolled to Scott’s Fretboard Accelerator Course - which is a time limited separate course of his not on the regular SBL site which spans over about 5 months.
I have to say that it is extremely useful (for me ofc) and i greatly reconsidered his teaching style there.
When he really wants to he knows how to teach.
He’s not Josh, nor he is Mark Smith, but he’s also a good teacher for students who can play a little bass and are able to figure out by themselves - being it by previous knowledge and/or by sheer practice- something of what he teaches.
I subscribed to SBL and I would not recommend it for beginners (B2B is The go-to course hands down) but for someone who has at least 6/8 months of playing there are lots of good contents to explore.
They are most in the “masterclass” or “workshop” content than in the “structured progressive course” content and there is a great variety of quality.
So I give Scott his merits.
Just my 2 cents


Glad it worked well for you. We all need a solid path of learning from whichever teacher inspires us to grow.


In fairness to SBL, I am doing the “3 notes at a time” YouTube exercise using the cycle of 5ths to locate and memorize notes on the fretboard and it is helping me a LOT. Hoping that in a few weeks after doing this periodically during the day each day, I will be able to more confidently play at least root bass lines to songs that show guitar chords in videos in less common keys. It’s been fun for me practicing along with songs in C, F and G, but that exercise is exactly what I was looking for to get a lot more comfortable with notes on all 4 strings up to the 12th fret. And BassBuzz was great at teaching me how to find those notes in the first place, using octaves and fifths, so it’s been a nice synergy of the two teachers.


I don’t like the length of any of SBL videos. I think he seems cool and friendly and someone I could hang n chat with. He does tend to talk far too much for MY attention span. So, it s ME not him. lol
Personally, I had COVID last week - prob the most progression forward in my playing EVER - I played every day for hours! It was great - practice time was the key, not watching videos and noodling the same thing over n over. I picked up a tab book and played the songs…it eventually clicks and then ya move on.
Covid, for me, was barely more than a bad headcold with a slight fever… so i lucked out and dodged a bullet. Took dogs out for numerous daily walks and played bass - winning.


Awesome. It’s always good to read about people that get COVID and it was mild.

I had both vaccination shots when I got it back in November and missed Thanksgiving to be safe (last thing I want to do is pass pestilence to my elderly anti-vax relatives…). I worked while I had it and yeah, it felt like I had a cold and a headache. My sense of taste then went batshit crazy for maybe a week, too.

I got my booster two weeks later :rofl: