#1
Hello ultimate guitar!

I know there is already a couple threads about this topic, but none of them answer my question, and I don't like stealing people's threads.

I have been playing guitar for a year and a couple months, mostly through online and dvds. In the last two weeks, I started taking one on one lessons with a teacher.

Last lesson, he assigned me to learn combining minor and major pentatonic scales. I have tried to look stuff up on this matter, but it hasn't really helped. I understand the concept, but I don't know how to apply it to playing.

I know that with the two pentatonic scales, you have:
Major: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 (C major: C, D, E, G, A)
Minor: 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7 (C minor: C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb)
So combined, you would have: 1, 2, b3, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7

So with that, I formulated my five different shapes for the combined pentatonic.

The way I practice, is with my Boss RC1 looper. Instead of mindlessly practicing scales, I will play a simple 2 or 3 chord progression, and play the scales overtop. That way I practice a little rhythm, I practice my scales, and I practice timing with my scales.

Since this is considered a 'blues' type scale, I play the I, IV, V chord progression in the key I practice (I do a different key each day) for a measure each, and loop it back and play the combined scale over top.

However, I can get some decent sounding licks going, but then it just sounds awful on other parts. To just do scale runs it sounds awful as well, to the point where it almost turns me off from practicing it. I don't know what I'm missing.

If anyone could offer help on this issue, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks!!
#2
Just mindlessly playing any scale over any chord progression will sound bad. It's not the scale itself that sounds bad, it's the random noodling.

Also, it's not the best scale to use over a I-IV-V chord progression, unless you are playing 12 bar blues with every chord as dom7. And even then not all notes would work that well over all chords.

But yeah, first you need a bluesy sounding backing track. Play a basic 12 bar blues. I-IV-V with one chord per bar doesn't really sound very bluesy. The scale will just sound wrong over it and using major scale would be the sound you are expecting to hear.

I would start with just the minor pentatonic or just the major pentatonic and get used to how they sound. Only after that start combining them. If the minor or major pentatonic alone sounds crappy when you play it, it won't sound good if you mix them.

Emphasize chord tones - those are good notes to land on and end your phrases with. Remember to use your ears. Get used to the way all the different scale degrees sound and try to think in sound, instead of playing the notes in the scale randomly. Maybe limit your note choice to just a couple of notes to get the sound of the notes in your head.

Try to hear something in your head and try to figure out how to play it. It may be easier to first learn songs by ear. If you are into blues, learn some of your favorite guitar solos by ear. At first it's just trial and error, but you'll get better at it.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Apr 6, 2015,
#3
Right on MaggaraMarine. I just took your advice and tried it for about half an hour. it works out really good now. I played a 12 bar blues progression in B. Then played the minor on the I chord and the major on the VI chord and it sounds a lot better. I appreciate you taking your time out to give me your help. One more question if you don't mind. Does it matter what scale I play on the V chord?

Thanks!!
#4
Quote by 6stringstudent
Hello ultimate guitar!

I know there is already a couple threads about this topic, but none of them answer my question, and I don't like stealing people's threads.

I have been playing guitar for a year and a couple months, mostly through online and dvds. In the last two weeks, I started taking one on one lessons with a teacher.

Last lesson, he assigned me to learn combining minor and major pentatonic scales. I have tried to look stuff up on this matter, but it hasn't really helped. I understand the concept, but I don't know how to apply it to playing.

I know that with the two pentatonic scales, you have:
Major: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 (C major: C, D, E, G, A)
Minor: 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7 (C minor: C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb)
So combined, you would have: 1, 2, b3, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7

So with that, I formulated my five different shapes for the combined pentatonic.

The way I practice, is with my Boss RC1 looper. Instead of mindlessly practicing scales, I will play a simple 2 or 3 chord progression, and play the scales overtop. That way I practice a little rhythm, I practice my scales, and I practice timing with my scales.

Since this is considered a 'blues' type scale, I play the I, IV, V chord progression in the key I practice (I do a different key each day) for a measure each, and loop it back and play the combined scale over top.

However, I can get some decent sounding licks going, but then it just sounds awful on other parts. To just do scale runs it sounds awful as well, to the point where it almost turns me off from practicing it. I don't know what I'm missing.

If anyone could offer help on this issue, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks!!


Look at what makes a chord major or minor. It's one note. The third.

In a Minor scale its a b3
In a Major scale its a 3

What other notes are different in the Minor scale from the Major Scale?

There are two more the 6th, and the 7th. (Unless you're in Harmonic Minor, then the 7th is the same as the Major scale 7th)

So, use these characteristics, and instead of coming up with a largely chromatic run with no understanding, figure out the notes and how they function against the key center, then use that deliberately to craft your major and minor scales.

If I were to have taught you, I'd have shown you examples of how to do this and what/why they are different. Did he not do that and just assign you some sort of abstract assignment?

Best,

Sean
#5
A good, practical way of combining Maj and min pentatonics is by using the sixth scale degree, which in the context of an E blues would be C#, often used at the 14th fret of B string. The most obvious way to use this is to start at C# (14th fret) and bend up into the 7th, D at the 15th. You'll hear that all over Clapton, Pink Floyd, etc. That's a David Gilmour signature bend right there.

Another juicy place to find that sixth is 11th fret of the third (D) string.

So what are we combining?

E min pent:

e|12--15
B|12--15
G|12-14
D|12-14
A|12-14
E|12--15


E Maj pent:

e|12-14
B|12-14
G|11--14
D|11--14
A|12-14
E|12-14


Try both of those patterns over an E blues concept, like a 12-bar blues, or something simpler like a E7 - A7 loop.

For fun, try this classic Blues fill:


e|----------
B|2-21-10-0-
G|---------2
D|-2--1--0--
A|-----------
E|-----------


edit: Hopefully you'll hear what I mean. Descending Major 6ths on the 2nd, 1st and open B and D strings, leading into A on fret 2.

Alternately, try the C#m pent shape over an E7.


9--12
9--12
9-11
9-11
9-11
9--12


Sliding into Ab over an E drone, or an E5 "power" chord is a great way to bring some major pent spice into a solo. Kind of Country sounding, very sweet and harmonious.

Sounds like Skinnard to me. That A|9-11 hammer-on or slide is great when your target is a Major 3rd below the root note.

Try playing the low E string by itself, let it ring out. Then slide into Ab on the 2nd string (11th fret).

Now play the A string by itself and slide into the same fret on the D string.

Chop up those type of Country-Rock licks with some traditional Blues/min-pent licks at the 12 fret position.

You'll have a lot of fun with that.

Often if I'm playing in the park or something and someone's like, "Hey, play something!" I play a bit like the above. It's mildly entertaining, not too hard. Usually gets a clap.



That'll get you started with some simple Jazz improv, too, if a situation calls for a pent scale. I've used nothing but min/Maj pent before to good effect.

edit: made some corrections
Last edited by HorrorfaN at Apr 14, 2015,
#6
Here's a "secret weapon" used by many classic blues players:

Let's say you're playing over a standard 12-bar blues (I-IV-V) in the key of 'E.'

(Chords: E7 - A7 - B7.)

Over the I chord (E7) play E major pentatonic.

Over the IV chord (A7) play E minor pentatonic.

Over the V chord (B7) play B major pentatonic.