The pentatonic scale is THE most common musical scale ON EARTH. If you know Greek, you know that the name means 5 notes, and it is in fact just that, a 5 note scale. There are many pentatonic scales in the world, but the one you probably hear most people talking about is the minor or major pentatonic scale we use mostly in rock and jazz guitar. The problem with learning the pentatonic scale on the guitar is that, because of the way guitar is laid out, it seems much more complicated than a little 5 note scale. IT'S NOT. You just have to think about it the right way!
The very first thing you must do is learn all the root note shapes, and know how to find any note on the guitar. If your goal is learn to play the guitar correctly, this is mandatory. This is the best shortcut to mastering the guitar, so DO IT and don't be lazy! Click here if you don't know these.
The key to mastering the guitar is to think about INTERVALS and what they look and SOUND like. Always use the root note (in this case A) as your guide. Here are the root note shapes in A:
Now add the intervals of the minor pentatonic scale [Root b3 4 5 b7] to the A root note on the low E string. MEMORIZE THAT SHAPE!
Now do the same thing from the A string root note.
Now the A note on the D string, notice we had to move over a fret on the B string to compensate for the major 3rd tuning between the G and B (but the pattern is essentially the same)
With the G string root, it's still the same pattern, but we have to move over again on the B string.
We can also eek out this little fragment with a B string root.
Notice the scale is ALWAYS the same shape (except for the one fret adjustment you must make between the G and B strings)
Now try hooking a few patterns together like this:
And finally, when you fill in all the blanks, the whole fretboard looks like this. Can you see that pattern constantly repeating itself all over the neck? GOOD!
Now YOU Shred!
Practice these patterns with the tracks below.
Now try E minor pentatonic. The root note shapes are the same, just shifted over to E, as are the minor pentatonic patterns!
Now try D minor...
Here's one in B minor:
How about a sharp key? That's a little more challenging... Try C#
Now try some flat keys, here's Ab:
Now E Flat:
Think you REALLY got it down? Try playing in 5 keys on the same track!