The Pentatonic Scale Extensions

author: Jacques Nel date: 02/10/2014 category: scales
rating: 8.6 / votes: 7 
The Pentatonic Scale Extensions
Hey guys!

After reasonable support on my previous lesson, I thought I'd share more of my learnings with other who are starting out in lead guitar like me.

As a foreword, learning to play any instrument or learning any skill for that matter and mastering each has it's own challenges but all of them have one thing in common: dedication. Don't give up on learning if you're not able to shred like a skilled guitarist after one week of practice. So many players lose interest after not being able to play like Slash or [insert your idol of choice here] after a few lessons. All the greats, spend hours and hours practicing daily, if you want to become good, you must dedicate yourself to doing so.

But I digress, today I want to do a short lesson on how to extent the first box shape of a minor pentatonic scale. If you are new to guitar and don't know what I mean, you'll see once we reach the tab below.

I spend a lot of time tracking down and collecting material on how to better my playing so I can't take full credit for this lesson as I got the "skill" and exercises from a DVD I watched a while back but it's really helped me a lot so far so I thought I'd share it.

Okay so let's look at your A-minor pentatonic scale's first box position:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12                                    
E|---|---|---|---|-A-|---|---|-C-|---|---|---|---|
B|---|---|---|---|-E-|---|---|-G-|---|---|---|---|
G|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|---|---|---|---|
D|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|
A|---|---|---|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|---|---|
E|---|---|---|---|-A-|---|---|-C-|---|---|---|---|
Okay so if you've started learning your scales this should be nothing new to you.

But, I may be speaking for myself here, but I rarely see any lead guitarists merely play up and down a scale in any solo. There is more to any good solo than playing up and down a scale.

In my previous lesson I spoke about different box shapes, so in this lesson I will discuss integrating those box shapes by extending the above shape upwards and downwards. First I'll show you how to extend it upwards:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12                                    
E|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|---|
B|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|
G|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|
D|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|
A|---|---|---|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|---|---|
E|---|---|---|---|-A-|---|---|-C-|---|---|---|---|
If you play this scale, instead of moving to the 2nd string when you are going up to E, you slide up on the 3rd string and play the E there, moving up to G on the 2nd string.

Now, this can also be done when you extend it down:
 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
E|---|---|---|---|-A-|---|---|-C-|---|---|---|---|
B|---|---|---|---|-E-|---|---|-G-|---|---|---|---|
G|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|---|---|---|---|
D|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|
A|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|---|---|
E|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
When these two are combined, you get the following:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
E|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|---|
B|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|
G|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|
D|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|
A|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|---|---|
E|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
Technically, this can even be extended more as follows:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
E|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|---|
B|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|
G|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|
D|---|-E-|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|
A|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
Or:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
E|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|---|
B|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|
G|---|---|---|---|---|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|
D|---|---|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|-C-|---|---|
A|---|---|-C-|---|-D-|---|-E-|---|---|---|---|---|
E|---|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
I think you get the picture.

Learning to extend your shapes will give you that early advantage when it comes to versatility as these extensions are commonly overlooked when you start learning lead or even when taking lessons.

As promised here are the exercises I've learnt so far when it comes to the extension above (please note that it is best practiced with a metronome):

Exercise 1:
E|-10-8------10-8--------------------------------------------------------
B|------10-8------10-8-10-8-----10-8-------------------------------------
G|--------------------------9-7------9-7-7-5-----7-5---------------------
D|-------------------------------------------7-5-----7-5-7-5-----7-5-----
A|-----------------------------------------------------------7-5-----7-5-
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Continued...
E|------------------------------------------------------------------------
B|-------------------------------------------------------------------8-10-
G|---------------------------------------------------5-7-----5-7-7-9------
D|-----------------------------------5-7-----5-7-5-7-----5-7--------------
A|-5-3-----5-3-------3-5-----3-5-5-7-----5-7------------------------------
E|-----5-3-----5-3-5-----3-5----------------------------------------------
Continued...
E|---------------8-10------8-10-------|
B|-----8-10-8-10------8-10------------|
G|-7-9--------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------|
The above exercise can be diversified when using hammer-ons and pull-offs to play up and down in groups of two notes. This may seem simple enough but it really helps burn the shape into your muscle memory. I suggest, when playing the notes on the second and third string, that you use your first and third finger on the third string, and your third and fourth fingers on the second string, as this is also a good way of getting them to work independently.

Another way to use this exercise practically is to use alternate picking, up down up down up down all the way through the exercise as it really helps you to alternate between the strings with your alternate picking.

Use a metronome and play it at 2 notes per beat, speeding it up as you get better and more comfortable with the shape. Wait until you can get each note to sound out perfectly before speeding up the metronome as we all know bad habits stick.

I urge you to learn other extensions as well, and practice them in the same manner.

That's all from me this time guys. Next time I will be doing commonly used riffs and phrases, known as cliche's.

I always appreciate feedback.
More Jacques Nel lessons:
+ Guitar Modes Lesson 1 Scales 02/25/2014
+ Bending Techniques and Exercises Guitar Techniques 03/06/2014
+ Finger Strength and Pentatonic Scale Lesson Soloing 01/23/2014
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