The Piano Method - Linking The Pentatonic Scales

A simple technique that can be used to link and blend the various pentatonic patterns across the neck. This trick is especially great for on-the-spot improvisation, and gaining a new aspect of guitar soloing.

1
The pentatonic scale has many patterns. The pattern that one is most likely to encounter while learning guitar soloing is this: We'll use the key of A minor for now
 0   1     2     3     4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12  13  14
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|----|----|---|---|---|
This is only one variant of the pentatonic scale. With only this variant, a guitar play may begin to feel "locked in". You only have a range of four frets with this scale. Whilst a player can achieve good results with only this variant, they will not have the full convenience that could result from learning to other patterns. The other patterns follow as such:
PATTERN 1
 
 0   1     2     3     4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12  13  14
 X |-----|-----|--X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |--X--|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
 X |-----|--X--|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
 X |-----|--X--|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
 X |-----|-----|--X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
 X |-----|-----|--X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
(^--These X's are open notes)
 
PATTERN 2
 
 0   1     2     3     4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12  13  14
   |-----|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|--X--|-----|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|--X--|-----|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
 
PATTERN 3
 
(The original pattern again)
 0   1     2     3     4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12  13  14
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|----|----|---|---|---|
 
PATTERN 4
 
 0   1     2     3     4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12  13  14
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|---|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|---|---|---|
 
PATTERN 5
 
 0   1     2     3     4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12  13  14
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|---|-X-|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|----|-X-|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
   |-----|-----|-----|----|----|----|----|----|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
Those are all of the pentatonic patterns, but they still continue further along the neck. after pattern 5, the patterns repeat, so starting at the twelfth fret, play pattern one. Then starting on the fifteenth fret, play pattern 2 and so on. Now if you put all the patterns together, you will form a single pattern that can scale the entire fretboard
  0   1     2     3     4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12  13  14
 X |-----|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
   |--X--|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|---|-X-|---|
 X |-----|--X--|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|-X-|---|---|
 X |-----|--X--|-----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
 X |-----|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
 X |-----|-----|--X--|----|-X--|----|----|-X--|----|-X--|----|-X-|---|---|
With allot of practice, effort, and time, all these patterns will start to blend into the one single pattern shown above. But until then, switching between different patterns may prove difficult, and your soloing may sound choppy. There is however, a simple technique that can be used to move along any single string without having to think about the pentatonic scale. First we'e isolate one string from the diagram above. Le's use the B string
  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
   |X-|--|X-|--|X-|--|--|X-|--|X-|--|--|X-|--|X-|--|X-|--|--|X-|--|X-|--|--|
This is just the b string. The X's represent all the notes of all pentatonic patterns that occur on the B string. You'll notice a pattern if you look closely. The pattern resembles that of a piano, where the X's are the black keys, and the unplayed frets are the white keys. Find a guitar backing track in any key of your choice. Since this lesson is in A minor, and it's relative major is C major, you may want to find a backing track in either or those two keys. Now try thinking of the notes you need to hit in the pentatonic scale as the black notes on a piano. Visualize it in your mind as your playing, and remember that you need to avoid the white notes. Now of course this is only a one string technique, so it's only meant to be incorporated into one's soloing. It's also good to keep in mind that this method only holds true when using the pentatonic scale. If your using the major scale, some of those white notes are going to be played. I hope this helps! Also, although I found this out on my own one day, I'm sure many other people have known about this and have written on it. So if anyone has any issues with me writing this, let me know and I'll either credit you or delete this lesson. Thanks!

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Bellion
    i found this rly helpful and easy to understand. The only question is do u hv to rmb all the notes in the second last diagram for jamming in A minor backing track?
    takeaimnfire
    This is fine except that you're missing the 3rd fret on the b string in your first pattern.
    Metalhead_James
    It was using the A minor (As was mentioned in 1st paragraph)You guys didn't read clearly ....Thanks for the info man! I found this as consistent as a scale book. This will help me bring my patterns together. I've heard of the piano approach but I didn't "get it" till I read this. THANKS A LOT!!! Keep it up!
    CoheednRHCP
    Your diagrams are hard to understand, the first one is plain out wrong, you fail to mention which pentatonic scale you're using(minor), and this is honestly a very iffy way of learning the minor pentatonic. People trying to learn the notes don't need to think of the minor pentatonic only consisting of black keys. Learning how to solo in all the positions seperately then learning to link them is probably better, in my opinion.