Beef up your blues-rock mus­cles and get your fin­gers fit with our ul­ti­mate Pen­ta­tonic work­out!

Guitar Techniques - - FRONT PAGE -

Many hard­ened gui­tarists don’t re­ally know their Pen­ta­tonic scales. They may say they do, but I won­der how many can play all five shapes of the mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic re­ally flu­ently? If you stand guilty as charged, stick around be­cause we’re here to change all that!

The Pen­ta­tonic scale is the five-note sta­ple of blues and rock gui­tar. Lit­er­ally thou­sands of clas­sic riffs and so­los are de­rived from it. In this two-part study we’re go­ing to start by look­ing at the five shapes of the A mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic (A-C-D-E-G). This is of­ten mixed up with the ‘Blues’ scale, which is al­most iden­ti­cal but con­tains an ex­tra note (Eb in this key). Firstly, check out the five fret­boxes on page 14. It’s es­sen­tial to fa­mil­iarise your­self with th­ese; it may seem like a big task but, re­mem­ber, we are only deal­ing with the same five notes, just in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. The prin­ci­ple is the same as learn­ing where to put your fin­gers to grab a chord with­out hav­ing to look – con­di­tioned re­flex, or ‘mus­cle mem­ory’, ap­plied in this case to se­quences of notes in a pat­tern vi­su­alised on the fret­board. The best way to ac­quire this fa­cil­ity is by play­ing through the five shapes reg­u­larly – per­haps a cou­ple of times a day over a sus­tained pe­riod, rather than try­ing to take too much on board at once. As you will see, there are many ways to use th­ese pat­terns, and it would be a shame to fall into a lim­ited ‘com­fort zone’. Play­ing through the shapes, you’ll hear how each is de­rived from the same five-note se­quence and, as this hap­pens, your ears will help guide your fin­gers to the right notes, which is ex­actly the fa­cil­ity we’re look­ing to build and ex­pand upon here.

Most as­pir­ing gui­tarists get com­fort­able with Shape 1 first – and it’s not hard to see why many get stuck there. It’s ar­guably the most well used, fea­tur­ing in pretty much any clas­sic solo you could name, though usu­ally not ex­clu­sively. Jimmy Page’s solo in Stair­way To Heaven is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple, start­ing out with A mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic Shape 1, but mov­ing through most of the oth­ers as the solo pro­gresses. It’s a great ex­er­cise to lis­ten or in­deed play through it and see how many shapes you can spot, how­ever briefly used. Though we’ve cho­sen the key of A for this study, the same shapes can be trans­posed into any key, by sim­ply mov­ing them up or down to dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions on the fret­board, as you would a barre chord. For ex­am­ple, take all five shapes and shift them down two frets to find G mi­nor – take it up four frets from there and you’re in B mi­nor. We’ll look more at play­ing in dif­fer­ent keys in part 2. For now, stand by your beds, Pen­ta­ton­ics ready for in­spec­tion! Isn’t that what they say in boot camp?

The PraC­TiCe of sCales solves The greaT­esT num­Ber of TeCh­ni­Cal ProB­lems in The shorT­esT amounT of Time

An­dres Se­govia

i don’T Play Py­roTeCh­niC sCales. i Play aBouT frus­Tra­Tion, Pa­TienCe, anger. mu­siC is an ex­Ten­sion of my soul Dick Dale

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