Aside from learning your basic major and minor scales, there is one additional set of notes that guitarists usually learn first: the pentatonic scale. Though strongly tied to the blues, these five notes are ubiquitous in the music world, making them a versatile tool when playing most styles.
In his TrueFire course, On Location | Pentatonic Deep Dive, Jeff McErlain helps you expand your improvisational and soloing skillset by focusing on the pentatonic scale and they power you can derive from getting creative with it.
Here are 4 free pentatonic guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Jeff McErlain’s On Location | Pentatonic Deep Dive on TrueFire!
Connecting Lines & The Helix Pattern: Demo
In this section I’m going to show you some classic Jimmy Page style connecting ideas basically over this chord progression to Stairway To Heaven.
Connecting Lines & The Helix Pattern: Performance
An excellent way to practice your pentatonic scales is using what I call the helix method. This just reminds me what a DNA helix looks like. We go up one position, slide up to the next position, and go down that one. Then, we slide positions to go up that one. This helped me to see how the scale fingerings interlock and overlap. Where one ends, the next one begins.
Funky Chordal Pentatonics: Demo
In this exercise, we’re going to take a look at using the G major pentatonic scale in more of a rhythm-guitar-based way as opposed to soloing. Remember, the pentatonic scale is simply a scale. There is no reason why we cannot use it more “chordially” and exploit the double stops found within. This is very common in Motown guitar playing, and extremely useful when coming up with parts. As we discovered before, leaving half steps out of the G major scale will give us a G major pentatonic scale. By leaving half steps out, we have more freedom to not hit a wrong note.
Funky Chordal Pentatonics: Performance
This kind of chordal-based pentatonic playing is quite common in funk and R&B. I have a one chord groove going on implying G7. This is super common and really used to kick my butt before I knew that I could do more than just play a G7 chord. In fact the last thing I want to do is just play a G7 chord! There are seemingly endless ideas, riffs, and motifs we can come up with using the simple G major pent scale.
Digging these free pentatonic guitar lessons? Check out Jeff McErlain’s On Location | Pentatonic Deep Dive.