Scale and chord patterns are often described by their unique interval pattern. Most of the time this set of intervals falls within the span of one octave. (See octaves.) It is a good idea to memorize the names and fretboard patterns for these basic intervals to help you in memorizing all the different scale and chord patterns.
Basic Musical Intervals on the Bass Fretboard
There are 12 basic intervals in music you should commit to memory. That means you need to memorize each interval’s name and its shape(s) on the bass fretboard. I will show you all of these intervals starting on the note C. But, these intervals may be started on any note or any fret so long as the distance between them remains the same.
You should play these intervals on your bass as you read about them. It's not as much to learn as it looks, but I always like to be thorough in my explanations.
Minor Second Interval
Our first interval is called a minor second. A minor second is the same as one half-step. It is the smallest musical interval. Another common name for a half-step is semitone.
A minor second above C is Db. You could also name the note C# which is the same note as Db. For simplicity in this lesson I will mainly use the flat name for notes. You could use either flats or sharps.
Major Second Interval
The next interval is a major second. A major second is equal to 2 half-steps. This may also be called a whole-step (two halves make a whole), or a wholetone (2 semitones make a wholetone).
The major 2nd interval is abbreviated M2. An uppercase “M” means major.
A major second above C is D.
In the fretboard diagram notice the two ways you can play the same interval. The interval of D two half-steps above C is always a major second regardless of fingering.
Most scales are made of a series of minor and major seconds (that is, half-steps and whole-steps).