The Pentatonic Scale
Five notes that rock!
In this exercise you will practice the pentatonic scale - the prefix "penta" comes from the greek word for five, which means that the scale only has five notes. It's one of the most used scales in all sorts of styles of music, and it's easy to master and use. Here are the fretboard diagrams for 5 positions of the A minor (and C major) pentatonic scales on the neck. The notes in blue are the root notes (only A is marked as a root note to avoid confusion, even though C major and A minor pentatonic scales both have the same tones, they just start at different notes).
You will notice that all the patterns only have two notes per string which makes them easy to learn, especially with some practice. Which is what you'll be doing now!
Pattern 4, fourths
In this exercise you will play the pentatonic notes in fourths, ascending and descending on the fourth pattern. The fretboard diagram and the tabs are to help you learn the exercise and the scale, but you must not rely on it, learn the pattern by heart! Here you are actually playing the proper C major pentatonic (the notes are the same as in the A minor pentatonic, except that it actually starts on the C note).
Remember to play alternate picking, which means that when ascending you will be doing outside picking and when descending you will switch to inside picking. Your right hand will do this automatically, the only thing you have to do is stick to the downstrokes and upstrokes as they are written in the tabs, so be careful!
- Whenever you play these pentatonic exercises remember to use alternate picking. The downstrokes and upstrokes are provided for you in the tabs, stick to them!
- Only increase the tempo on the metronome when you are completely comfortable with the playing speed.
- The main aim of these exercises is to learn all the patterns and become comfortable with them. Focus on this first, and later on the speed of the playing.