Enter for your Bass exam in four quick steps

The February to March deadline is 14 December

Bass Grade 4

Bass Grade 4 is where you'll bring out the expressiveness in your playing, through ghost notes, vibrato and dynamic control. You'll be tested across longer exam pieces, again mixing Rockschool and pieces of your own choosing*.

Key Skills at Grade 4

What you'll learn at Grade 4:

  • Dynamic control, ghost notes, vibrato, solo and improvisation work
  • Major and Natural Minor. Major and Minor Pentatonic scales. Blues scales, Major, Minor and Dominant 7th arpeggios
  • Playback and performance skills

What You're Marked On

Your Bass Grade 4 exam lasts 25 minutes and is split into five key sections.

Performance Pieces

At Grade 4:

  • Pieces last up to two minutes 15 seconds. There is further development of improvisation and solo work and stylistic techniques
  • Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate
  • Pieces are over two pages
  • *There is an option of two Free Choice Pieces for a Grade Exam and three Free Choice Pieces for a Performance Certificate

Learn more about Free Choice Pieces...

Technical Exercises

A selection will be asked from three sections:

  • Scales
  • Arpeggios
  • Riff

Sight Reading or Improvisation

At Grade 4 you will be offered either Sight Reading or Improvisation.

Sight Reading
  • Eight bars in D or G major, A or D minor
  • ½ and ¼ and 1/8 notes with ¼ note rests in 4/4
  • Two bars of melodic improvisation at the end using chord symbols within the piece
  • 90 seconds' preparation
  • Eight bars in G major, D major, A minor or D minor
  • 30 seconds' preparation
  • Two bars of sight reading in the form of a notated bass line at the start of the test
  • One practise play-through, with backing

Ear Tests

There are two ear tests at Grade 4: Melodic and Rhythmic Recall. These help develop the two key bass skills of lead and rhythm playback.

Melodic Recall
  • You will hear a two-bar melody in G Minor Pentatonic played twice with a drum backing track
  • You will then have a period of practice
  • You will then be asked to play the melody along with the drum backing. The first note will be the tonic and the first interval will be descending
Rhythmic Recall
  • You will hear a tonic chord of C major and then two further chords made up from chords I, IV or V in a given rhythm shown in the Bass Grade 4 Book
  • The test is heard twice with a drum backing track
  • You will then have a period of practice
  • You will be asked to play the chords in the given rhythm along with the drum backing
  • You will then be required to identify the chords

General Musicianship Questions

General Musicianship Questions are included to test your musical understanding and further instrumental knowledge. The five questions are broken down as follows:

  • Four questions on the piece, including clef, meaning of time signature, note and rest values and the construction of a major and minor chord
  • One question on your instrument, including parts of the bass, location of volume and tone controls on the bass and the volume/gain controls on the amp and the reasons for the selection of sound for the chosen piece

These files are extracts from Rockschool's Companion Guides for Bass Book.

Bass GMQ Sample (48KB, .pdf)


Your Grade 4 exam lasts 25 minutes for a Grade Exam or 22 minutes for a Performance Certificate. Candidates are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before their exam starts.

Get Started Today!

You can start working towards your Bass Grade 4 exam now! Simply buy or download the Bass Grade 4 book, and start preparing alongside your bass teacher.

If you don't have a bass teacher, you can quickly find the nearest teacher to you with our handy find a music teacher map.

Books for Bass Grade 4

  • Bass Grade 4 Book Cover Bass Grade 4

    The Bass Grade 4 book contains everything you need to sit your Grade 4 exam.

  • Bass Companion Guide Book Cover Bass Companion Guide

    The Bass Companion Guide book features over 200 "unseen" test examples.

  • Bass Technical Handbook Book Cover Bass Technical Handbook

    Brush up on every riff, scale and arpeggio you'll need to know to pass all of your Grade Exams.

  • Workbook Grade 4 Book Cover Workbook Grade 4

    The Rockschool Grade 4 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 4 theory exam.