Linking Pentatonic Scales & Arpeggios

author: gregstudley date: 09/30/2013 category: scales
rating: 8.4 / votes: 10 
Linking Pentatonic Scales & Arpeggios
Major and minor pentatonic scales are essential to modern guitar playing and will be the best way to start creating original riffs and improvised solos. These scales, however, are not all that should be utilized. Each major or minor pentatonic scale is paired with a major and minor chord - the C major pentatonic scale for the C major chord, and the F-sharp minor pentatonic scale for the F-sharp minor chord. The pentatonic scale contains notes of the chord, along with a few other colorful tones. However, you can isolate the notes of the chord by playing the arpeggio. By knowing the arpeggio, you will have knowledge of which notes perfectly fit the chord, since they are part of it. An arpeggio is the notes of the chord played in succession, rather than simultaneously. Every major and minor pentatonic scale contains an embedded arpeggio, and this lesson will focus on playing each one so that they may be included in your practicing, composition and soloing. I will start by explaining how this applies to major pentatonic scales and arpeggios.

Major Arpeggios

Major chords (and arpeggios) contain three notes which are referred to as the Root, 3rd and 5th. These three notes may be placed in any combination to create the chord, and may contain multiple roots, 3rds or 5ths, all depending on the chord voicing.

Major Arpeggio E4

Here is the Major Pentatonic Scale Shape E4, which has the low root played on the E-string with the 4th finger (hence the name "E4"). Below it is the Major Arpeggio E4, which contains only the notes of the chord. Maj Pent E4
e |-O-|---|---|-R-|
B |-O-|---|---|-O-|
G |-R-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|-O-|---|
E |-O-|---|---|-R-|
Maj Arp E4
e |---|---|---|-R-|
B |-3-|---|---|-5-|
G |-R-|---|---|---|
D |-5-|---|---|---|
A |---|---|-3-|---|
E |---|---|---|-R-|
To apply this arpeggio to the key of A major, first find the root note A on the E-string with the 4th finger (since this is an E4 shape). This will be on the 5th fret of the E-string. Your hand will be in 2nd position on the neck, meaning that your first finger uses fret 2 and the other fingers line up with the next 3 frets (3, 4 & 5). Using half notes, follow the TAB below to play the arpeggio first from the low root, then from the high root.
E |----------|----------|----------|--5-------|----------|----------|-------|
B |----------|----------|--2--5----|-----5----|--2-------|----------|-------|
G |----------|-----2----|----------|----------|-----2----|----------|-------|
D |----------|--2-------|----------|----------|----------|--2-------|-------|
A |-----4----|----------|----------|----------|----------|-----4----|-------|
E |--5-------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|--5----|


--5-------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|--5------||
-----5----|--2-------|----------|----------|----------|--2--5----|---------||
----------|-----2----|----------|----------|-----2----|----------|---------||
----------|----------|--2-------|----------|--2-------|----------|---------||
----------|----------|-----4----|-----4----|----------|----------|---------||
----------|----------|----------|--5-------|----------|----------|---------||
This major arpeggio shape may now be applied to any major chord by finding the root on the low E-string and then playing Maj Arp E4.

Major Arpeggio A4

Here is the Major Pentatonic Scale Shape A4, which has the low root played on the A-string with the 4th finger (hence the name "A4"). Below it is the Major Arpeggio A4, which contains only the notes of the chord. Maj Pent A4
e |-O-|---|---|-O-|
B |---|-R-|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|---|-R-|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|
Maj Arp E4
e |-3-|---|---|-5-|
B |---|-R-|---|---|
G |-5-|---|---|---|
D |---|---|-3-|---|
A |---|---|---|-R-|
E |-3-|---|---|-5-|
To apply this arpeggio to the key of A major, first find the root note A on the A-string with the 4th finger (since this is an A4 shape). This will be on the 12th fret of the A-string. Your hand will be in 9th position on the neck, meaning that your first finger uses fret 9 and the other fingers line up with the next 3 frets (10, 11 & 12). Using half notes, follow the TAB below to play the arpeggio first from the low root, then from the high root.
E |----------|----------|--9--12---|--9-------|----------|----------|----------|
B |----------|-----10---|----------|-----10---|----------|----------|----------|
G |----------|--9-------|----------|----------|--9-------|----------|----------|
D |-----11---|----------|----------|----------|-----11---|----------|----------|
A |--12------|----------|----------|----------|----------|--12------|----------|
E |----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|-----12---|--9--12---|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|-----9----|
----------|--10------|----------|----------|----------|----------|--10------|
----------|-----9----|----------|----------|----------|-----9----|----------|
----------|----------|--11------|----------|----------|--11------|----------|
--12------|----------|-----12---|----------|-----12---|----------|----------|
----------|----------|----------|--12-9----|--12------|----------|----------|
--12-9----|----------||
----------|--10------||
----------|----------||
----------|----------||
----------|----------||
----------|----------||
This major arpeggio shape may now be applied to any major chord by finding the root on the A-string and then playing Maj Arp A4.

Practicing Major Pentatonic Scales and Arpeggios

You can now combine 2 major pentatonic scale shapes and 2 major arpeggio shapes into 1 exercise for mastering the shapes. This will be applied to B major. First play the B major pentatonic scale and B major arpeggio in the lower hand position (4th position) and then play the B major pentatonic scale and B major arpeggio in the higher hand position (11th position).
   (Maj Pent E4)                                             
E |----------------------------|-----4--7--4----------------|
B |-----------------------4----|--7-----------7--4----------|
G |-----------------4--6-------|--------------------6--4----|
D |-----------4--6-------------|----------------------------|
A |-----4--6-------------------|----------------------------|
E |--7-------------------------|----------------------------|
                                     (Maj Arp E4)                      
----------------------------|-------|----------------|--------7-------|
----------------------------|-------|----------------|--4--7-----7----|
----------------------------|-------|-----------4----|----------------|
--6--4----------------------|-------|--------4-------|----------------|
--------6--4----------------|-------|-----6----------|----------------|
--------------7--4--7L------|--7----|--7-------------|----------------|
                                 (Maj Pent A4)                
----------------|-------|-------|-----------------------11---|
--4-------------|-------|-------|-----------------12-14------|
-----4----------|-------|-------|-----------11-13------------|
--------4-------|-------|-------|-----11-13------------------|
-----------6----|-------|-------|--14------------------------|
----------------|--7----|-------|----------------------------|
--14-11---------------------|----------------------------|-------|
--------14-12---------------|----------------------------|-------|
--------------13-11---------|----------------------------|-------|
--------------------13-11---|----------------------------|-------|
----------------------------|--14-11----------11-14L-----|--14---|
----------------------------|--------14-11-14------------|-------|
(Maj Arp A4)                                                         
----------------|--11-14-11------|----------------|----------------||
-----------12---|-----------12---|----------------|----------------||
--------11------|----------------|--11------------|----------------||
-----13---------|----------------|-----13---------|----------------||
--14------------|----------------|--------14------|--------14------||
----------------|----------------|-----------14---|--11-14---------||
Although this exercise was written in B major, it can actually be played in any major key you choose (though all scale and arpeggio shapes will need to be appropriately moved).

Minor Arpeggios

Similarly, minor pentatonic scales contain embedded arpeggios of minor chords. Minor chords (and arpeggios) contain three notes which are referred to as the Root, flat 3rd, and 5th. This "flat 3rd" is what makes a major chord and a minor chord different – major chords contain a 3rd, while minor chords contain a flat 3rd.

Minor Arpeggio E1

Here is the Minor Pentatonic Scale Shape E1, which has the low root played on the E-string with the 1st finger (hence the name "E1"). Below it is the Minor Arpeggio E1, which contains only the notes of the chord. The flat 3rd is represented by b3. Min Pent E1
e |-R-|---|---|-O-|
B |-O-|---|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-R-|---|
A |-O-|---|-O-|---|
E |-R-|---|---|-O-|
Min Arp E1
e |-R-|---|---|b3-|
B |-5-|---|---|---|
G |b3-|---|---|---|
D |---|---|-R-|---|
A |---|---|-5-|---|
E |-R-|---|---|b3-|
To apply this arpeggio to the key of F minor, first find the root note F on the E-string with the 1st finger (since this is an E1 shape). This will be on the 1st fret of the E-string, and your hand will be in 1st position on the neck. Using half notes, follow the TAB below to play the arpeggio first from the low root, then from the high root.
E |----------|----------|----------|--1--4----|--1-------|----------|----------|
B |----------|----------|-----1----|----------|-----1----|----------|----------|
G |----------|----------|--1-------|----------|----------|--1-------|----------|
D |----------|-----3----|----------|----------|----------|-----3----|----------|
A |----------|--3-------|----------|----------|----------|----------|--3-------|
E |--1--4----|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|-----4----|
----------|--1-------|----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|
----------|-----1----|----------|----------|----------|----------|-----1----|
----------|----------|--1-------|----------|----------|----------|--1-------|
----------|----------|-----3----|----------|----------|-----3----|----------|
----------|----------|----------|--3-------|----------|--3-------|----------|
--1-------|----------|----------|-----4----|--1--4----|----------|----------|
--1--4----|--1-------||
----------|----------||
----------|----------||
----------|----------||
----------|----------||
----------|----------||
This minor arpeggio shape may now be applied to any minor chord by finding the root on the low E-string and then playing Min Arp E1.

Minor Arpeggio A1

Here is the Minor Pentatonic Scale Shape A1, which has the low root played on the A-string with the 1st finger (hence the name "A1"). Below it is the Minor Arpeggio A1, which contains only the notes of the chord. Min Pent A1
e |-O-|---|---|-O-|
B |---|-O-|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-R-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-R-|---|---|-O-|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|
Min Arp A1
e |-5-|---|---|---|
B |---|b3-|---|---|
G |---|---|-R-|---|
D |---|---|-5-|---|
A |-R-|---|---|b3-|
E |-5-|---|---|---|
To apply this arpeggio to the key of F minor, first find the root note F on the A-string with the 1st finger (since this is an A1 shape). This will be on the 8th fret of the A-string, and your hand will be in 8th position on the neck. Using half notes, follow the TAB below to play the arpeggio first from the low root, then from the high root.
E |----------|----------|-----8----|----------|----------|----------|----------|
B |----------|----------|--9-------|--9-------|----------|----------|----------|
G |----------|-----10---|----------|-----10---|----------|----------|----------|
D |----------|--10------|----------|----------|--10------|----------|----------|
A |--8--11---|----------|----------|----------|-----11---|--8-------|--8-------|
E |----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|-----8----|----------|
----------|----------|----------|----------|----------|--8-------|----------||
----------|----------|----------|----------|-----9----|-----9----|----------||
--10------|----------|----------|----------|--10------|----------|--10------||
-----10---|----------|----------|-----10---|----------|----------|----------||
----------|--11-8----|-----8----|--11------|----------|----------|----------||
----------|----------|--8-------|----------|----------|----------|----------||
This minor arpeggio shape may now be applied to any minor chord by finding the root on the A-string and then playing Min Arp A1.

Practicing Minor Pentatonic Scales and Arpeggios

You can now combine 2 minor pentatonic scale shapes and 2 minor arpeggio shapes into 1 exercise for mastering the shapes. This will be applied to D minor. First play the D minor pentatonic scale and D minor arpeggio in the lower hand position (5th position) and then play the D minor pentatonic scale and D minor arpeggio in the higher hand position (10th position).
   (Min Pent A1)                                             
E |----------------------------|--5--8--5-------------------|
B |--------------------6--8----|-----------8--6-------------|
G |--------------5--7----------|-----------------7--5-------|
D |--------5--7----------------|-----------------------7----|
A |--5--8----------------------|----------------------------|
E |----------------------------|----------------------------|
                                     (Min Arp A1)                      
----------------------------|-------|----------------|-----5----------|
----------------------------|-------|----------------|--6-----6-------|
----------------------------|-------|-----------7----|-----------7----|
--5-------------------------|-------|--------7-------|----------------|
-----8--5-----------5L------|--5----|--5--8----------|----------------|
-----------8--5--8----------|-------|----------------|----------------|
                                 (Min Pent E1)                
----------------|-------|-------|----------------------------|
----------------|-------|-------|----------------------------|
----------------|-------|-------|--------------------10-12---|
--7-------------|-------|-------|--------------10-12---------|
-----8--5-------|--5----|-------|--------10-12---------------|
-----------5----|-------|-------|--10-13---------------------|
--------10-13-10------------|----------------------------|-------|
--10-13----------13-10------|----------------------------|-------|
-----------------------12---|--10------------------------|-------|
----------------------------|-----12-10------------------|-------|
----------------------------|-----------12-10------------|-------|
----------------------------|-----------------13-10L-----|--10---|
(Min Arp E1)                                                         
----------------|--------10-13---|--10------------|----------------||
----------------|-----10---------|-----10---------|----------------||
----------------|--10------------|--------10------|----------------||
-----------12---|----------------|-----------12---|----------------||
--------12------|----------------|----------------|--12------------||
--10-13---------|----------------|----------------|-----13-10------||
Although this exercise was written in D minor, it can actually be played in any minor key you choose (though all scale and arpeggio shapes will need to be appropriately moved). These exercises may need to be played over and over to truly memorize these shapes and be able to apply them anywhere on the neck of the guitar. I will soon be posting a new lesson on improvising with arpeggios, so be sure to spend your time mastering these new shapes!
About the Author: By Greg Studley. For more scale exercises, instructional videos, jam tracks and other resources to transform your lead guitar playing, visit www.improvisingwithknowledge.com.
More gregstudley lessons:
+ Improvising With Knowledge, Lesson 2 For Beginners 12/02/2014
+ Improvising With Knowledge, Lesson 1 For Beginners 11/26/2014
+ Mastering Different Types of Slides and Bends Guitar Techniques 12/26/2013
+ Embedding Arpeggios Into Your Solos Soloing 11/10/2013
+ The Ultimate Preparation for Soloing Soloing 09/02/2013
+ 3 Steps to Solid Improvisation Soloing 07/18/2013
+ view all
Comments
Your captcha is incorrect