To be able to navigate the neck you only need to learn the dotted notes on the E and A strings, and then learn the octave shapes. That's because:
- Knowing the dots on the lower strings means you're never more than one note away from a note you know.
- The octave shape (2 frets and 2 strings) means you can access the D and G strings through the lower strings.
Using the octave method above we can also build arpeggios (chord notes played individually) from the root notes we use. As you can see the jumps from the root to the fifth are the same no matter where you move your root note, and the change between the major and minor thirds is only one fret.
Major Arpeggio - 1 3 5
Minor Arpeggio - 1 b3 5
Arpeggio shapes are especially important to learn and familiarise yourself with as they give you all of the notes used in the chord you're playing along with, and thus more musical options than just vamping on the root note of each passing chord.
Building Pentatonic Scales
Going a step further we can now start to fill out the notes from our major and minor pentatonic scales. The pentatonic is a great scale to use to create phrases throughout your basslines and are the primary shapes used in blues bass playing.
Major Pentatonic Degrees - 1 2 3 5 6
Minor Pentatonic Degrees - 1 b3 4 5 b7
Full Major and Minor Scales
Finally we can fill in the full major and minor scale notes to give us a comprehensive look at the key, and all the notes involved in building the chords and progressions.
Major Scale Degrees - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Minor Scale Degrees - 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Complete Major Pentatonics
Complete Minor Pentatonics