Advanced Pentatonic Movement

Less boring ways to move along a pentatonic scale. Quite advanced.

10
This lesson is fairly advanced, so don't feel discouraged if you can't play these scales/licks. This is mostly to give you a bit more things to do with a pentatonic scale. Lets take a look at your average Em pentatonic scale:
e|-------------------------------12-15--|
b|-------------------------12-15--------|
g|-------------------12-14--------------|
d|-------------12-14--------------------|
a|-------12-14--------------------------|
e|-12-15--------------------------------|
Pretty cool I guess, but there's only one problem: two notes per string. Now you might be thinking: "Well what else can we do? There seems no other logical way to go up the scale!" Well that just means we need to use some illogical ways. Let's look at a pentatonic box position:
e|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|
b|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|
g|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|
d|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|
a|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|
e|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|
Looks kinda boring, but we deal with it. Now lets look at the same scale, but starting from the second note of the lowest string.
e|-|-|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
b|-|-|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
g|-|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|-|
d|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|
a|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|
e|-|-|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
Notice anything? The two scales fit perfectly on top of each other!
e|-|O|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
b|-|O|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
g|-|O|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|-|
d|-|O|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|
a|-|O|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|
e|-|O|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
Now you may be thinking: "Yeah, that looks nice and spiffy. But I can't stretch that far!" Well if you can't stretch that far, you can use tapping to reach the higher notes. If you can't tap or stretch, you might want to pick up one of those techniques before continuing. Now that seems all good and dandy, but a problem occurs. All of the notes we just added double up if we play the scale front to back, which can be a cool effect, but doesn't always sound the best. Well there is a solution. If the notes we're doubling are always on the adjacent string, why not take every other string out:
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
b|-|O|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
g|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
d|-|O|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|
a|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
e|-|O|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
 
 or:
 
e|-|O|-|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|
b|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
g|-|O|-|O|-|O|-|-|-|-|
d|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
a|-|O|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|
e|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
There. Now none of the notes clash, and, with a little bit of stretching and string skipping, we can make some pretty nifty stuff. But another problem occurs. Going up and down in this fashion is all peachy, but we leave out tons of notes, and that isn't really going up and down the scale is it? Well here's what we do: Let's look at that same Em pentatonic scale again
e|-------------------------------12-15--|
b|-------------------------12-15--------|
g|-------------------12-14--------------|
d|-------------12-14--------------------|
a|-------12-14--------------------------|
e|-12-15--------------------------------|
Now I don't know about you, but the biggest problem I have with this position is the whole two notes per string thing. So why not make it 3 notes per string?
e|-------------------------------10-12-15-|
b|-----------------------8-10-12----------|
g|-----------------4-7-9------------------|
d|-----------2-5-7------------------------|
a|-----0-2-5------------------------------|
e|----------------------------------------|
Now you may be thinking: "Wholey moley, that looks impossible Brad." Well, it's not impossible, but it IS ver hard. You have to combine either tapping, or stretching with large position shifting, and those techniques on their own are difficult. But with enough practise, I'm sure anyone can play this. If you combine these two techniques into your riffage and shredding, you can make your pentatonic leads alot more interesting than the boring old two note style, and maybe even have more fun with it! Anyway, I hope this helps some of you who are bored of the pentatonic scale, or just need new ways of moving through it. If you have any questions about fingering and such, just give me an email and I'll be happy to answer it.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    NZAlpha
    Awesome haven't been playing to long but willing to give this a try doesn't look to hard but with a bit of practice I want to build up speed and acuracy.
    phuckoph
    much appreciated. Add an E and G on the top string at the beginning of the diagonal scale, and also this. Note, the first "fret" actually represents the open position. Fingered places marked by the fret number. Frets 10 and up marked with single digit. e|-|-|-|-|-|5|-|7|8|-|0|-|2|3|-|5| B|-|-|-|-|-|5| -|7|8|-|0|-|2|3|-|5| G|-|-|-|-|-|5|-|7|-|9|-|-|-|-|-|-| D| -|-|-|-|-|5|-|7|-|-|0|-|-|-|-|-| A|0|-|2|3|-|5|-|7|-|9|0|-| -|-|-|-| E|0|-|2|3|-|5|-|7|8|-|0|-|-|-|-|-| I just layered a bunch of scales on top of one another and came up with these notes, which all work for different sounds in the key of A. Also, the whole thing is slide-able.
    phuckoph
    sry for dbl post... and the spacing of the tab.. but I just remembered.. This works well with blues(among others), and allows for the same licks to be played in multiple positions, and with multiple fingering patterns, meaning you can make the same notes in different places for a change in tone (string thickness), or to make it easier to play. Really opens up your lick improvisation when you learn to play in all the different "boxes", but remember that some of the notes here only work coming from certain boxes and into another certain one. Experiment, but every note can be made to sound good, if played in the right order. If you look it up, or just know how the fretboard works, along with some theory you'll see that scales can be extended to cover the whole fretboard by counting out the intervals. Taking simple scales and expanding them, whether by a few frets or the whole fretboard, will also help you with your guitar "intuition", or how good you are at just knowing where to put your fingers for an improvisation. You can work with this as a standard player using a pick and 1 finger per fret style, but this can open up all kinds of options for those with good stretching and tapping technique, and can be expanded to cover more of the fretboard.
    kenanshalz
    Yeah I have some questions on fingering... And such... But thanks for the lesson
    Dumpster510
    nice article. i kinda stumbled upon doing this a long time ago on my own, i had the same problem-only 2 notes per string. luckily i have big hands so they're too tough to get the stretch. that last ex. you wrote was kinda easy
    diego0047
    Nice Lesson Dude! +10 but the last Em Pentatonic isn't Hard xD I dont like 2 Note-per-String Scales much, thats why I prefer Modes (Dorian, Locryan, Lydian & Aeolian) Its a Good Lesson, I just got inspired to do some Scale Progressions & some Sweep Picking Arpegios on it to kill Time ;D I'll show it to a friend, he really needs this stuff...
    Snowman388
    That's not that hard, and I've been playing 3-4 months. But I have big hands. And you know what big hands mean right? BIG GLOVES!!!
    guitarsftw
    Good idea for a lesson, BUT I feel it was executed weakly. Expanding pentatonics past the 2-note-per-string is very useful, especially if you want to take pentatonic playing past blues-rock basics. But this lesson barely scrapes the surface with what you can do with pentatonics.
    deaththrashcore
    A good way of making pentatonics into three note per string shapes is actually to stay in one position and double up on the notes played by your first and fourth finger. If you run through the pentatonic scales doing so, you can actuall get a rather cool, rather unused sound out of them.