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dhdhdhdhMastering The Pentatonics Part 1 September 7, 2008 by Lee The Guitar Rut!

! Im sure most of us guitarists have been in the same situation at some point. We enter the world of lead guitar, learn the minor pentatonic scale, some licks, get the technique down quite well and just as we start sounding pretty good we hit a brick wall! At this point most of us reach the same conclusion.. The pentatonic scale is too limited, we need to learn something new. What else is there if we have learnt the scale quite well and can play it in all five positions. Well I can tell you now that if you are in this situation then I guarantee the pentatonic scale is not your problem. If you really dont like the sound of the pentatonic scale then who am I to argue however if you want to sound like all the other rock and blues guitarists then its time to rethink your belief in the pentatonics because in these two genres the pentatonic dominates. This doesnt mean outside notes or other scales never get used but if there is one scale you should master for these styles then the pentatonic it should be. There is a huge difference between just knowing the pentatonic scales and actually mastering them. This takes time and effort but the the result will pay off in dividends. Knowing the minor pentatonic in all five positions is not really knowing the scale. What we are going to do in this lesson is break it down, rip it apart and put it all back together again. Knowing the five positions is certainly something you should have at your disposal but nows the time to start thinking about using the scale differently. This lesson doesnt contain any practical examples but all the ideas can easily be put to practical use by making your own exercises and just generally jamming around with each idea. The real goal here is to practice each idea enough times until you can say that you always know where you are on the neck at any given moment. Once you reach this point you should find you are thinking less about the five scale patterns and more about just the scale and its notes. If you are in a guitar rut then dont underestimate just how much you can improve by playing around with the ideas that follow. I dont want to fill the lesson with loads of text trying to convince you so if you havent done so already then I suggest reading through some of the topics in the articles forum. Some of them have a lot to do with these lessons but I try to keep them in a separate area where possible so that we can keep our focus more to the points of the lesson. Although this lesson is concentrating mostly on the minor pentatonic its very important to understand the difference between the major and minor

pentatonic scales in more detail than just moving the pattern up or down by three frets. Check out the lesson about major / minor scale differences for a gripping read! :) . Okay, enough talk, lets get to it The five common pentatonic shapes The five common shapes for the minor pentatonic scale are shown below. There is no real standard for numbering the positions but its most common to refer to position 1 as the one that starts on the sixth string root note. This is shown here as the F minor pentatonic to make it easier to view all five patterns across the neck as a whole. five pentatonic positions These five shapes are very useful and you should spend some time practising and getting to know them well. Its important to think of these as five separate patterns, dont allow yourself to make use of them by counting along the fretboard to reach each position. In a moment we will be looking at ways to associate these patterns with chord shapes but for now just use the root notes as your starting point for each shape, the following example shows the best way to do this. Both the minor and major pentatonic scales rely on the same five positions so unless you learn them as individual entities then you might find that all your ideas will sound the same whether you are trying to create a major or a minor sound as mentioned earlier. To overcome all these problems we need to delve deeper into each shape so that they can be applied more creatively. The very least you should know is the location of the root notes for each shape, these will be different for minor and major within the same pattern and of course none of this will be helpful if you cant find the notes on the fretboard very quickly so if you dont already know them, now is the time to start learning them. Minor Pentatonic Root Notes minor pentatonic root notes Major Pentatonic Root Notes major pentatonic root notes Note that some of the notes are shaded lighter, these notes shouldnt be viewed as the starting note. In other words when learning these patterns, always start from the root note even if it isnt on the sixth string otherwise you will have a hard time trying to find them quickly. The best method is to

start from the root note, work backwards through the shaded notes and then back to the root before continuing on with the rest of the scale pattern. For example you could practice position two for A minor pentatonic like this.. Position 2 A minor Pentatonic position 2 root notes The chords inside each pattern Another useful method of familiarising yourself with each of the five pentatonic patterns is to associate them with chord shapes just like the CAGED system does with the major scale. If you have been playing guitar for a long while then you quite likely know the common open major, minor and bar chords. Even though its common for guitarists to know where to find the 5 and 6 string bar chord shapes across the neck its not so common for them to know the C, D and G shapes. notes on fifth and sixth string The diagram above shows the notes on the fifth and sixth strings up to the twelfth fret without the enharmonic tones (sharps and flats ). These are the common notes used to find the five and six string bar chords. Im sure many of you know this already but Ill give a brief explanation just in case. The moveable five string bar chords are based on the open A form chord shape. The root note on the fifth string is the reference point (indicated by the arrow), you can move the whole shape along the neck and whatever note that lands on is the new chord. For example the images below show how the five string A form chord can be major or minor and moved along to form C major and E minor chords. a form bar chords The six string moveable bar chord is based on the open E form and the example below shows how they can be moved to form G major and C minor. E form bar chord What makes these two moveable shapes so common is simply because its easy to use the index finger to create a bar, and act just like a capo would by moving the nut further up the neck. The C, D and G forms arent so common because they involve more complex fingering patterns but with practice these fingering patterns can be mastered. However even if you think they are too difficult or feel that you dont have any need to practice them its still quite important that you learn them, even if you cant play them, the more you can visualise chord tones across the neck the better your playing will

become. C, D and G major open chord forms c d g form chords C major form moved to create a D major chord C form chord D major form moved to create an A major chord D form chord G major form moved to create a C major chord G form chord The D minor form is also a common chord shape that can easily be moved, here you can see how it is moved to make a G minor chord d minor chord Make sure you learn to recognise the C and G forms as moveable chords but dont despair if you cant get your fingers to play them, just make sure you know them anyway. I wont show them moved along as this should be obvious by now. G minor form chord All of these chord forms have the root note in more than one place and you should avoid learning to recognise them from the bottom two or three strings only. Here they all are again but this time associating them with the other root notes that they contain. All of these things take time to learn but dont overlook them, the effort will pay off in dividends even if at this moment in time you cant possible imagine how this can improve your ideas. Once you know them you will find yourself thinking differently about the way you play whether you are using pentatonics or not. The Other Root Notes C form root notes A form root notes G form root notes E form root notes D form root notes

Knowing all of these root note positions can help quickly locate chord shapes and similarly help you find the notes on the fretboard if you already know the chord positions. D form root note tenth fret If you already know that the 10th fret on the second string is an A then its easy to find the D form chord for A major A form root ninth fret Using the five string (A form) bar chord notes as a guide on the third string and vice versa Chord Overlaps Another thing you should make yourself familiar with is how the chords overlap. The CAGED chord shapes each share at least one note on at least one fret. For example take a look at how the C form chord and D form chords overlap in the A major positions. D and C form chords overlapping The diagram below shows the overlap parts for all of the CAGED forms in A major and minor. Major Forms major chord forms Minor Forms Minor chord forms So whats all this got to do with the pentatonic scales? In case you might be wondering how any of this stuff can be useful and what has it got to do with pentatonics, well its all about being able to visualise the fretboard as an entire unit for any given chord, note or scale. Flying up and down the neck with ease is all about knowing where you are at any moment and not counting frets or using mnemonics. It can be hard to convince people that knowing all of this is necessary but the fact is it isnt as hard to learn as it all might seem, once you start doing it, it can all come together quite quickly as you start to see common patterns emerging but theres still more to come!

Mastering The Pentatonics Part 2

September 7, 2008 by Lee Triads All of the previous chord forms were built on triads. A triad is simply a chord containing three notes. The common chord forms that use more than three strings therefore have some of these notes repeated. What we want to do now is take a look at these triads across the neck in groups of three notes only, learning these are extremely useful. Earlier on I talked about all chords and scales being based on the major scale and the notes in the major scale are numbered one to seven starting from the root. We can create any major triad by simply taking the 1st, 3rd and 5th scale degrees (intervals) from the major scale and using them to form a chord. The minor triad is the same thing but with the 3rd scale degree flattened. major and minor scale degrees As you can see its easy to find which notes belong to a chord if you already know the notes of the major scales. Memorizing all of the notes that belong to all of the scales and various chords is a great tool to have at your disposal but we are only going to concern ourselves with the interval relationships for the purpose of this course. The good thing about the guitar is the way we can move things around by shifting common patterns up and down without changing the shape of the pattern. Once you start learning the location of notes on the fretboard everything starts getting easier and all we need to do to find any triad is learn a few shapes and move them to any note we want. Note: The distance between the 1st and 3rd is called a major third interval and the distance between the 1st and 5th is called a fifth (or a perfect fifth). caged intervals caged intervals The diagrams above shows examples of how these intervals are arranged in the chords and simply repeated to make use of more than just three strings. What follows is a set of major and minor triad patterns using only three notes that you should make yourself familiar with. Most of these patterns can be associated with, and found inside the common CAGED chord forms so take some time to look closely at them and find where they might fit into the chord shapes. For example you can see here how the E form chord contains three triad shapes. triads in the chord forms

Major Triads major triads major triads major triads major triads major triads Minor Triads minor triads minor triads minor triads minor triads minor triads Learning these are vital to making your solos sound more musical. This is the key to creating solos that relate to the underlying chord changes. You know that a major chord is just the three notes 1, 3, 5 and a minor chord just flats the 3rd, once you get used to these patterns you will find it easy to think of chords as individual notes or patterns which you can use to create chord related licks and phrases that really inject life into your solos.

Mastering The Pentatonics Part 3 September 7, 2008 by Lee Intervals inside the pentatonic shapes Its also important to know the placement of all the chords and intervals within the pentatonic shapes. Take some time to look through and learn all of these in the diagrams below. Dont worry if all of this so far seems like too much too learn, just start making yourself aware of these things when you are playing the pentatonic scales and dedicate some of your practice time to it. This is a lot of information to take in and you wont learn it overnight. The good news is that after a while you will find its actually not as bad as it first might appear because once you get going you will find all of these ideas interact with each other and you dont actually need to learn them all as individual patterns. You should find that before you are even halfway through

you will almost know the rest of it without having to learn them. Minor Pentatonic Intervals minor pentatonic intervals minor pentatonic intervals Major Pentatonic Intervals major pentatonic intervals major pentatonic intervals What follows are some triad and chord shapes that can be found within the five patterns. Associating a chord shape with a scale pattern is another good method to find your way around the neck quickly, theres no need to learn them all at once, you will probably do better to focus on one at a time and just start using that shape regularly until you get used to it being connected with the chord forms. Not all of the possibilities are listed but just a few examples so spend some time to see how many more you can find. Position 1 minor pentatonic patterns position 1 minor patterns Position 2 minor pentatonic patterns position 2 minor patterns Position 3 minor pentatonic patterns position 3 minor patterns Position 4 minor pentatonic patterns position 4 minor patterns Position 5 minor pentatonic patterns position 5 minor patterns Position 1 major pentatonic patterns position 1 major patterns Position 2 major pentatonic patterns position 2 major patterns

Position 3 major pentatonic patterns position 3 major patterns Position 4 major pentatonic patterns position 4 major patterns Position 5 major pentatonic patterns position 5 major patterns

Mastering The Pentatonics Part 4 September 7, 2008 by Lee Breaking down the pentatonic scale One of the biggest problems with scale positions is if youre not careful you might end up thinking about them in positions relative to each other, rather than independent scales. Whatever method you use, one thing that is very important is you always know where you are playing on the neck at any given moment. For example if you are playing position three and you only got there by counting up five frets from position one then this is a habit you need to get out of. If you happen to be playing A minor pentatonic in position three starting on the tenth fret then you should also be aware of where the root notes are within that shape as well as triads or any of the common chord shapes inside or within close proximity to it. Knowing these kind of target tones is the key to making your solos sound musical. Position 3 A minor pentatonic starting on tenth fret position 3 a minor pentatonic Root notes inside and within close proximity of the scale pattern a root notes A minor triad inside the scale pattern a minor triad Some of the D minor (red) and A minor (green) form chords cross over into position 3 position 2 and 3 chord form The above diagrams give you the idea, the main point is to always be looking

for and knowing whats around your fingers. There is nothing wrong with knowing and using the scale patterns themselves but thinking more about what is contained within and around them is very important if you want control of the neck. Obviously the same applies to all five positions. Getting around the B string tuning. This is an idea that takes a little getting used to but once youre familiar with it, it can be a very powerful method for working your way around the neck and it outlines another importance of knowing all the notes on the fretboard. Ill describe this all in the key of A using the minor pentatonic scale but the same method can be applied to any scale type. Breaking scale patterns into small chunks and moving them around is a great way to get familiar with a scale across the entire neck and get you away from thinking of scales as being full six string box patterns only. We already know that the minor pentatonic scale contains only five notes so its quite obvious that all the shapes and positions are nothing more than repeats of the same five note sequences. This next idea thinks more in terms of small patterns repeated throughout the neck. The only thing that complicates it is the string tuning offset at the B string so first lets consider for a moment that all the strings on the guitar are tuned evenly. In standard guitar tuning each string is tuned five semitones (half steps) apart, other than the interval between the G and B string. All string intervals are five semitones except between the G to B string fretboard standard tuning If we now tuned the strings so that they are evenly tuned five semitones apart then a few things would change because the B and adjacent E string would need to be tuned up by one semitone (the B to E string interval is already tuned five frets apart so if the B string goes up then the adjacent E string will also have to go up with it). What we would end up with is a tuning that goes E A D G C F and any chord or pattern that we already know would have to change. Therefore the standard box pattern minor pentatonic would need to drop down by one fret on the B and E string to compensate. Standard box pattern in standard tuning and what it would look like if all strings were tuned evenly spaced five semitones apart. fretboard evenly tuned This is where the A notes would end up note positions on fretboard

It would now become a very easy task to take the first octave of the standard minor pentatonic shape and move it to start on any one of the root notes without needing to change the shape. pentatonic patterns Obviously when we get down to the B string we start to run out of strings, we still keep the same pattern but we only use the first four notes of it. Likewise we could start it on the highest string and only need the first two notes. Lets now take this one step further and think about how a pattern can move in four directions from any root note. It can move to or from the right or left ascending or descending like this. note direction This means that we can learn just two small patterns and as long as we know where the root note is we can move from that note either up or down to the left or right. Even though this is four directions its only necessary to know two small patterns. For example this one octave pattern can start from the lowest note and ascend up the octave or descend down. ascending pattern on fretboard ascending pattern tab If we now take the first part of position five we can find another pattern that can be used for left ascending or right descending. For this pattern we will use eight notes to keep it symmetrical and make it easier to remember. This obviously goes against what I said earlier about all patterns should start from the root so again, when practicing these kind of patterns, start from the root, go up and then work back down and vice versa. position five pattern And here it is played ascending and descending, starting and ending on the root. position five tab ascending left and right With these two patterns we can now go to any root note and play from it in any of four directions. Between any 12 frets you will only find six root notes, one on each string. By knowing just the location of the root notes and the two patterns you have

enough information to play the minor pentatonic scale across entire neck. For these examples remember we are still considering all the strings to be tuned evenly. Study the diagram below and you will see how the entire neck is covered simply by repeats of the same two patterns centred around the root notes. I have outlined as many as I can without it becoming too cluttered but you should have no problem seeing they are all there. patterns over entire fretboard This shows us how simple it would be if the strings were all tuned evenly. A system like this can be very helpful when combined with the ideas already discussed and help you to gain good control of a scale. Okay so this is all well and good but how does it help us in standard tuning?. Well, its not really much more difficult once you understand how the strings are tuned and the whole thing is made much easier as long as you only start with patterns that belong to the evenly tuned strings E A D and G as this gives us a constant to work from (which we have already done). Basically, we can take any part of any scale pattern we like as long as it belongs to the bottom four strings and move it anywhere on the neck in standard tuning by following two rules. 1. Any part of the pattern that crosses the G to the B string ascending needs to move up one fret 2. Any part of the pattern that crosses the B to the G string ascending needs to move down one fret Rather than attempt to over explain this it is probably easier to get the idea by studying the following series of diagrams, we start by taking the first pattern and moving it to start on each string in turn. pentatonic pattern sixth string pentatonic pattern fifth string pentatonic pattern fourth string pentatonic pattern third string pentatonic pattern second string pentatonic pattern first string Note in diagram 5 there is no need to shift anything as the B to E spacing is still tuned five semitones. Also note that diagrams 3 and 4 could be viewed as descending and shifting down as you cross the B to G string as shown

below. pattern crossing tuning offset Using pattern two pentatonic pattern two sixth string pentatonic pattern two fifth string pentatonic pattern two fourth string pentatonic pattern two third string pentatonic pattern two second string pentatonic pattern two first string This same idea could also be used with larger patterns but sticking to the patterns belonging to the E A D G strings prevents it getting messy and confusing because some of the pattern already crosses the unevenly tuned part. If you move the full standard box pattern to start on the fifth string then you have to think more, for example in the diagram below, the dotted section of position 1 already crosses the G-B strings so it needs to be compensated on both the B and E strings when it is moved. Reusing patterns from the evenly tuned part not only keeps it simple but also helps you to think more about the scale notes rather than the pattern, although this might not seem obvious until you get used to it. shifting the pentatonic pattern Moving some of these patterns around can require a little more thought than others but a little bit of effort and practice can make this method become very easy for a large percentage of pattern shifts. I have been using ideas like this for quite some time and can move any pattern around the neck in this way with very little thought. Like everything else you dont get used to it overnight but once you will find it a great way to quickly think your way around an unfamiliar scale and it should speed up the process of learning new scales across the fretboard. All the common scale positions should still be learnt but combined with this idea you should find yourself learning and remembering them become a lot easier. If you have any trouble trying to get your head around any of this then you might find it easier to first play around with smaller groups of four notes and then when you get the hang of that move on to six note symmetrical patterns. For example, take this four note pattern here

four note pattern and move it around the neck to start on each of these root notes. a root notes pattern on each root note By using only a two string pattern of four notes you can see that you only need to think about the string offset where the pattern crosses the G B string as outlined in the orange box. Also note that these four notes alone make up an Amin7 chord so this method could be used as a means of quickly locating chord tones. The next few diagrams show how to play about with a symmetrical pattern, this helps you get used to the idea and prepare you better for when using larger patterns like the ones we first looked at. Take this symmetrical pattern from the standard box position and move it to other root notes across the neck six note pattern six note pattern on root notes If you are finding your ideas limited when playing with any of the pentatonic positions other than position 1 then you might find you can jump start your creativity by taking a lick you already know and replicate it in another position. Unless you are new to lead playing it is pretty likely that you already have a pretty good sounding lick that uses this one of the outlined parts of the standard box position. standard box pattern The diagrams below show the first part located in each of the five positions, note that position four only contains four notes so you might need to adjust your lick to only use four notes. pentatonic five positions These diagrams show the second pattern, this time position 3 only contains four of the notes so a different lick is required again. pentatonic five positions The more you practice and play about with ideas like this the better. So far we have covered quite a few different ideas but dont allow yourself to get overwhelmed by any of it, make sure you practice them regularly and let things just fall into place on their own, what might seem like a lot of

information right now will soon become second nature to you.

Mastering The Pentatonics Part 5 September 7, 2008 by Lee Minor Arpeggios and the minor pentatonic There seems to be a lot of confusion about arpeggios for those who have never played around with them. Many beginners assume that an arpeggio is played by holding a chord shape and picking the notes separately instead of strumming. Now that certainly is an arpeggio but its not the only way to play one and in the case of playing lead guitar the arpeggio is played more like you would play a scale. The only difference between a chord and an arpeggio is that the chord plays the chord tones simultaneously while an arpeggio plays them sequentially. The A minor chord consists of the notes A, C and E and you can play these notes any how you like, as long as they are not picked simultaneously, they can be played in any order for any note length, staccato or legato it doesnt matter as long as you are making any phrase by picking one note at a time then you will be playing an A minor arpeggio. The TABS and diagrams below show a few different ways you could play with arpeggios. Hold down a bar chord and individually pick each note up and then back down again. Practice this by letting all the notes ring out by keeping fingers pressed down and then practice lifting the hand slightly after each note is picked so as to mute the strings, keep the fingers pressed only for the duration of the note. A minor Bar Chord Arpeggio Tab Similar to the above but playing note sequences Arpeggio Sequence Tab Extension of the same idea, this can be played a bit more like you would pick notes of a scale pattern rather than holding down a chord shape. Minor arpeggio pattern minor arpeggio tab Arpeggio using just the three notes in one octave

triad in chord pattern triad tab Three notes on just two strings played as a lick triad pattern triad tab Arpeggios like this are often played at high speed using sweeping techniques but they dont have to be, you can play them at slower speeds. Whats important is that you play it more like a scale, in other words lift each finger to mute each note after it has been picked so that it doesnt ring over the next note arpeggio sweep pattern arpeggio sweep tab Playing a minor arpeggio will result in a sound that maintains the characteristics of the minor chord which is quite obvious as you are just playing the chord tones. If you were to play an A minor arpeggio as a phrase or lick over an A minor chord then it is always going to sound like it fits, however a lot of blues and rock music will have a solo that is tonally dominated by the minor pentatonic scale throughout the solo. With this in mind consider that the min7 arpeggio is actually the same thing as a minor pentatonic scale but with one note missing. The notes in A minor pentatonic are A, C, D, E, G and the notes in an Amin7 chord are A, C, E, G. A lot of solos based on the minor pentatonic scale will have a minor flavour to them over the entire chord progression even though the minor chord itself might not be present in the progression, this is because the minor pentatonic scale is used so often for soloing that we have kind of got used to the sound it creates. The minor pentatonic scale itself could actually be considered an Amin7add11 arpeggio because thats the chord you get if you add a D to an Amin7 chord. Playing an Amin or Amin7 arpeggio will sometimes work anywhere over chord progression that would normally use an A minor pentatonic for a solo but there are also times that doing this will clash over certain chord changes so youll need to let your ear be the judge, you will only find these things out by experimenting. Getting used to arpeggios can lead to some great ideas and really help you get better acquainted with the neck. They are also good for helping you get away from running sequentially up and down scale patterns by injecting some larger intervals into your playing. The next few diagrams show some Amin7 patterns that you should get familiar with but also spend some time to see how many you can find yourself.

All the notes belonging to Am7 A minor seventh notes A minor seven sixth string patterns A minor seven fourth string patterns A minor seven fifth string patterns Filed Under: Mastering The Pentatonics