View post (help with pentatonic)

View thread

Registered User
Joined: 05/17/04
Posts: 3
Registered User
Joined: 05/17/04
Posts: 3
05/17/2004 7:39 pm
Maybe this can help.
First of all, MAJOR pentatonic is not all that prevelent or useful in Rock. Although it does lend it self to country styles very well. MINOR pentatonic scales however, are EVERYWHERE in rock and blues. It is by-far a much more useful progression to know and use. Here's the difference.

If you're familiar with scales, here is how both of them are laid out, with respect to a full major or minor scale (This is helpful in discovering other positions for playing these scales)

Major scale 1st _ 2nd _ 3rd 4th _ 5th _ 6th _ 7th 8th
major pent. scale 1st _ 2nd _ 3rd _ _ 5th _ 6th _ _ 8th

Minor scale 1st _ 2nd 3rd _ 4th _ 5th 6th _ 7th _ 8th
minor pent. scale 1st _ _ 3rd _ 4th _ 5th _ _ 7th _ 8th

"A" Major Pentatonic


"A" Minor Pentatonic


You can see why Minor Pent. is a much used scale for beginner guitarists. Your first finger stays on the fifth fret throughout the progression and finger is either on the seventh or eighth. Very simple.

Now, to see how this is used in a song, you first have to understand that scales are learned only to develop a template for a riff or solo. In most cases, you wont hear a whole scale played beginning-to-end during a song (metal heads will disagree). More often you will hear a solo or riff played "around" a particular scale, utilizing the notes contained in that scale.

Here is an example that you can learn to play. It is the main riff the Lenny Kravitz song "Are You Gonna Go My Way". I've changed the key to match the scale played above, but the riff will be instantly recognizable.


In case you're confused:

The 7-(9)-7-5p/o means:

You play the 7th fret (use your 3rd finger) then bend it up a whole step (up to the same note as the 9th fret, then release the bend until the note comes back to regular pitch. At that point, you pull that finger off so that the 5th fret note (played with your 1st finger) sounds. Your 1st finger should be placed on the 5th fret at the very beginning of this part (you can use it to help you bend that 7th fret note up and down.)

This first part should be able to be played with only one pick stroke, as it all happens fast. The remainder of the riff is very straitforward, and should be played with one pick stroke per note.

This is classic use of a minor pentatonic scale to form a riff. Play around with it by changing the order or adding other notes from the scale above, and you should start to recognize some other very familiar sounding progressions.

Finally, its very important for you to realize that scales are not solos. They are only one small part of what constitutes a solo or riff. There's also bends, pulloffs, hammer-ons, vibrato, harmonics, pick attack, dynamics, amp tone, pickup selection, muting, whammy bar technique, scrapes, squeals, pings, boings, etc.... All of which come together to make a solo. Trust me, nothing is more pathetic and uninspiring than listening to an aspiring guitarist try to pass off a litany of memorized scales as some kind of solo. Its the equivelent of going to hear a singer, and having them do nothing but "do-re-mi-fa-so...... Over and over.

I hope that helps you out. You can e-mail me if you have any other questions.