Learn The Pentatonic Scale
Think back to when you first got your learner’s permit. It was new and exciting, but let’s face it…as much fun as it was to sit in that all important seat, you couldn’t wait to shed your beginner status and graduate to the real thing: an official card-carrying, solo driver. The same holds true for any new guitar player.
After learning the basics from our guitar lessons in Scottsdale, like how to tune a guitar and how to choose the best guitar strings for your individual instrument, there will come a point when you’ll want to move from starter guitar player to solo guitarist capable of captivating an audience and commanding a stage.
In order to do that, you’ll need to do more than just show up to your Scottsdale guitar lessons; you’ll need to become extremely familiar with something called the pentatonic scale.
What is the Pentatonic Scale?
While the name might sound a little intimidating, the pentatonic scale is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. By definition, a pentatonic scale is comprised of five notes based on either the major or minor scale. Coincidentally, there are also five specific pentatonic scale shapes or patterns that are used to produce a wide range of musical sounds. Today, we’re going to teach you about the most common of these five patterns: the minor pentatonic scale (pattern 1), which is used in nearly every contemporary genre of music, from blues to rock to pop.
A Minor Pentatonic Scale (But Majorly Important)
The minor pentatonic scale, pattern 1, is hugely popular and highly essential for solos, riffs, and lead guitar. The first thing you should know is that the scale is constructed using the formula: 1 b3 4 5 b7. In other words, a minor pentatonic scale is simply a natural minor scale without degrees 2 and 6. To play pattern 1 of the minor pentatonic scale (in key A for this specific example) you’ll start on the low E string with your first finger on the 5th fret and play two notes on each string. Watch the accompanying video tutorial for specific finger placement and pattern shape. Let John show you how it’s done, and then, once you feel comfortable — try it for yourself!
-all notes in the 5th fret are played using the first finger
-all notes in the 7th fret are played using the third finger
-all notes in the 8th fret are played with the pinky
Also, be sure to pick only one note at a time. For beginners, we suggest starting off with only down-picks then gradually transitioning to alternate picking (down up picking) to make the finger movement more efficient. For an extra challenge, try turning on a drum machine or metronome to keep your minor pentatonic scale playing in time.
To become a more versatile lead guitarist, mastering the minor pentatonic scale is crucial. It is the ultimate framework for building incredible runs and awe-inspiring licks. In essence, the minor pentatonic scale is to guitar playing what driver’s ed is to obtaining your driver’s license: a necessary step to unlocking a world of freedom and possibilities.