If someone is playing a 1-4-5 in the key of C (CFG) and I want to play lead using pentatonic scales do I just take all positions/forms of the C pent scale and play that? Can I also use a 1st position F pent scale when the 4 (F) is played and a G pent scale when the 5 (G) is played? Can I use the CFG scales any time I want? Should I only be playing the C scale since that's its "key"?
Last edited by mdh2861 at Feb 3, 2009,
Yea you would play the whole thing in the pentatonic scale of C. You would just move the first not of the first position up to the root note C on the sixth string. It would be way to hard to keep changing keys. lol
A standard approach to that would be just playing the C major scale or C major pentatonic. If it's more bluesy, the C minor pentatonic and C Blues scale mixed with some C major pentatonic; that sounds weird from a theoretical standpoint, but it just works in blues and blues-rock.

A less traditional, perhaps better sounding, and certainly more difficult way to approach that is to play the scales I mentioned above but emphasize the notes in the chord underneath. You would perhaps emphasize a B note over that G chord when that's not such a great note over C and F in many cases.

An even harder and again, perhaps better sounding, approach would be to treat each chord as an island. This is a jazzy approach. A jazz guitarist will look at the chord and think, "Oh, G major chord...I'll play C Lydian over it. Now I've got an F chord. What the hell? Why not some F Phrygian Dominant over that," and so on. Don't not do something because it's hard, but go with the first two before really trying this approach. By the way, I was just naming random scales, so you're not locked into Lydian and Phrygian Dominant (if you even know what those are).

You can play any of this at any position on the fretboard and in any order.

Before anyone says it, you physically cannot play over that progression with an Am scale or E Phrygian. If it's in C, you call your scale C whatever, save that third soloing approach when you're just describing what's going on over a single chord, but that's not something I should explain at 1:45 when I should have been spending the last two hours figuring out the hairy ball problem (no joke, that's an actual theorem in math, albeit one I'm not going to be studying until next semester).
thanks for the replies! How does this apply for singing? Does that mean that the singer will also be "singing in C?". Does their voice follow a C scale? Is there a lot of variance aloud?
A vocal melody is just another melody line. It's mere coincidence that it's sung rather than played by a guitarist or saxist. Your singer may sing some notes out of key, and you will likely play some notes out of key when you reach a certain level in your guitar playing where you know when you can push conventional boundaries, but the "rules" governing the guitar or bass or *any instrument apply to the singer.

*Ignore this if you don't understand it, but some instruments are not tuned to concert C, so you must account for that.