Advanced Pentatonics

Everyone knows the blues box (or should) - and it's got to be like 90% of guitar solos that use the thing.

Ultimate Guitar
Everyone knows the blues box (or should) - and it's got to be like 90% of guitar solos that use the thing. 1--4 1--4 1-3 1-3 123 1--4 Simple enough. But how can one little scale be so versatile?! First off, there are FIVE such scales: 1--4 1--4 1-3 1-3 123 1--4 -2-4 -2-4 123 1--4 1--4 -2-4 -234 -2--4 1--4 -2-4 -2-4 -234 1--4 -2-4 1-3 123 1--4 1--4 -2-4 -234 1--4 1--4 -2-4 -2-4 Within each of these five scales, there is a pattern: Root, third, fourth, b fifth, fifth, seventh - six notes That pattern simply starts in a different place in each of the scales. When the pattern starts on the G string, though, a fret jump is required when moving to the B string, so the familiar: 123 1--4 becomes -234 1--4 And that's basically it. Six little notes. But the way to USE the pentatonic scale is to pay attention to the chords being played. Take blues: G7 | G7 | G7 | G7 | C7 | C7 | G7 | G7 | Dmaj7 | Cmaj7 | G7 | D7 The G pentatonic (third fret blues box) over that dominant 1,4,5 progression gives you the blues sound. You can increase the effect of the scale by playing around the chord tones. The nice thing about the pentatonic scale is that it involves six notes that sound good in each of these chords, so really anything goes - BUT if you resolve to a C when the C chord comes along, that can be a big help. Once you get familiar with playing along with the chords (walking around the root of each chord a bit) your listener will come to expect it - even an untrained listener. So by teasing your listener - by NOT playing the root right on time - you can often make the scale even more interesting. Also, see what you can do with that flat 5th. Pentatonics can also be interchanged with the Aeolian, or natural minor mode. Technical gobbledigook aside, your pentatonic scale for any major key starts three frets down from the root of your key - the twelfth fret in the case of G major. For the key of C, your pent starts at A and so on. The pent starts a minor third from the root. Lesson 2 - Sliding and bending. Sliding is a nice trick, but where do you slide to? Well, two good options are full octaves (a twelve fret slide,) or sliding from the 7th up to the root and starting a new pent scale an octave higher than before. You can also slide in and out of each of the five scales and can even jump from one to another once you understand where you're at in the basic six-note pattern. Start your run up on the twelfth, for example, and then pick up the second half of the run off the open position (e minor pent, relative minor of G major.) Pull-offs in open positions have a very old school country/blues kind of sound if you do it right. A little creativity can find you pathways in and out of major scales from pentatonics as well. ;) Bending is another story. Normally, you're not just bending the crap out of the note. Most of the time you are trying to make the fret you're playing sound like an adjacent fret. Sometimes you want to bend up a third. Point is, you're bending to a note, and coming down to the note that the fret you're on normally corresponds to. Bending, though, is probably the single most expressive element of soloing. Your mastery of a solid bend (with plenty of feeling - pretend your girl is sleeping with your best friend) is a big key to emotionally charged guitar playing. If you can combine all these skills, the pentatonics will be your oyster! Play to the chords, walk around the five scales and slide and bend. Of course there's always hammer-ons and pulloffs, trills, arpeggios and all the other toys, but that's for a different lesson. Peace!

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10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    chill guys the article is called "advanced pentatonics" for a reason. A reason I don't know :-P. Still, the title was the only thing wrong with it, the article was great.
    I think I got it now!!! But it still needs to be rewrited. And to Ug Stranger= Mind your on buisness, bitch!
    Bong Water
    very bad formatting, all screwed up... im struggling to be able to read it properly.