Doodle in the Key of Bb – A reader request

The Bb scale on the Uke

Here is a diagram for a Bb scale – first position. (First position means that you are staying in the first part of the neck, near the nut. Actual scales go all over the neck, but let’s just start easy, shall we?)

Starting on a low note, the first note of the scale is a Bb – 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the G string. Then:

Open C string

2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the C string

3rd finger, 3rd fret of the C string

1st finger, 1st fret of the E string

3rd finger, 3rd fret of the E string

Open A string

!st finger ,1st fret of the A string – that’s the top note of the Bb scale.

I have included some optional notes – circles filled with grey. These are also part of the Bb scale, but are above or below the full scale I described.

Doodle around with this and get used to it. Play it over a Bb chord, or a Cm, or it’s relative minor: a Gm.

This would be a good scale for songs that have Bb, Eb, and F chords.

Thanks Jeff, for asking about this.

5 Responses to “Doodle in the Key of Bb – A reader request”

  1. Rhan Wilson Says:


    Thank you for participating in this website and discussion – I think I understand your question.

    Whether it’s newbies or oldbies (what?!) I think the approach is the same: don’t just jump in. Listen.

    If you have been asked to join in on a song, you are already part of the band so there isn’t a rush to do anything.
    If there is music, then listen to what’s already being played and find a nice, simple part that fits in with the others. Perhaps you wait a little and come in on the chorus.

    If you don’t have the music, then you might want to doodle a little off mic to find out what key you are in, or look at the other players for a cue.

    Listen for the “one” and come in at a musical place, as opposed to just jumping in right away or in some odd spot.

    I’ve seen musicians sit in with bands and do little for most of the song as they find just the right part to play, or not play.

    I hope my thoughts have helped a little – every situation is a little different, but this is my general approach.


  2. Jeff / Humble Uker Says:

    Time has moved on and I haven’t implemented your advice.

    How do musicians jump in and play along with newbies without knowing the song?

  3. Rhan Says:

    El Jeffe (and others),
    To get better at soloing, I would suggest recording a track of just two chords played back and forth for as long as you can, perhaps 5 minutes or longer. Pick out a pattern, perhaps 4 or 8 beats of each chord. Slowly and steadily.
    Then you can play along with that.
    Keep recording different combinations of simple chords played over and over and practice to those.

    As for other issues regarding “klunking aroud” – I remind you to keep it simple. Strive for even-ness in strums rather than complicated. Play less – sometimes a single strum played in the right place sounds more appropriate than several filling up all the sound space.

    Any other questions?

  4. Humble Uker Says:

    El Rhanbo — I still feel like Ima klunking around even when playing with the clubs. What do you know about Garage Band and how a klutz can learn to get a groove on? El Jeffe’

  5. Tom Says:

    Here’s some songs in the key of Bb… I think…

    Alan Parsons Project The Same Old Sun
    Chris Hillman Close Up The Honky Tonks
    Chris Isaak I Believe
    Domino Fats My Girl Josephine
    Emmylou Harris I Still Miss Someone
    Emmylou Harris Till I Gain Control Again
    Gene Parsons Sonic Bummer
    Jesus And Mary Chain Here Comes Alice
    Jurassic 5 Work It Out
    Lucy Kaplansky My Name Joe
    Magnetic Fields Time Enough For Rocking When Were Old
    Merle Haggard Rainbow Stew
    Renaud Soleil Immonde
    Third Day Mama

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