Phrygian Bass Scale

Welcome to a new lesson for playing the Phrygian scale on bass. As always in pdf.

This is a fundamental scale for any bass player who wants to play the flamenco bass, as it is widely used in this genre.

Many times it is exchanged with the Phrygian major scale which is the V grade of the harmonic minor scale that we will study later.

It is grade III of the major tonality, therefore, we can use two names to name this scale:

  • Phrygian Scale
  • Phrygian Mode

Fingering to play the Phrygian scale on the electric bass

In this pdf you will see 2 ways that exist to play the Phrygian bass scale or the also called, Phrygian mode in the bass.

As always, we will use the A pitch note of our bass fretboard.

Let’s go with fingering with finger 1:

phrygian mode bass

In the Phrygian scale for bass these are the best options, we do not use finger fingering 2 because it is not recommended to play the Phrygian mode.

phrygian bass scale

Take a good look at the fingers of this second fingering of the Phrygian mode bass, it is necessary to open the hand a lot but it is a very comfortable position if you practice it with patience.

Bassist ! study this pdf carefully and remember that you must always practice with the metronome at 60-80 bpm black and then go up in speed.

How is the Phrygian scale formed ?

The Phrygian bass scale has seven notes and these are the distances between them.


As you can see, this scale has a minor 2nd! and its characteristic note is that minor 2nd, it is the one that gives the Spanish or flamenco taste to the mode.

The intervalic of the Phrygian scale is:

  • Root
  • minor second
  • minor second
  • perfect fourth
  • perfect fifth
  • Minor 6th
  • Minor seventh

1, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7

How do I use the Phrygian mode on the Bass?

Whenever we have a minor chord we will be able to use it, although it must be considered that the grade from where it starts is the third of the tonality.

We will combine it perfectly with the blues scale or minor pentatonic scale.

If what we want is to achieve a flamenco or Spanish sonority we can lie on the characteristic note (2nd minor), although it is a great dissonance and we must always resolve that note in the tonic of the scale, descending.

Playing the Andalusian cadence in the bass

Here we leave an example of the Andalusian or Spanish cadence in the key of F major (which is A Phrygian). Thus, you will be able to practice a little flamenco sonority with this scale:

Andalusian Cadence on bass guitar

Try to play the A Phrygian scale on these chords and you’ll see how you get the flamenco sound.

The magic thing is that this scale can be used on major chords, within the context of the flamenco genre.

We are going to be able to use the Phrygian minor scale on these chords:

Examples from A pitch note

Minor triad chords – Am ✅
4th chords suspended – Asus4 ✅
Minor chords with 7th minor – Am7 ✅
Major chords, as long as it is modal tonic, as it happens in the flamenco genre:
A ✅, A7 ✅, A7b9 ✅

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