Advanced Lesson on the Pentatonic Scale

This is another excellent, albeit more advanced, lesson around the pentatonic scale (if you need to get the basics of that pentatonic or blues scale, see ‘how to play guitar’). Anyway, I thought this guy was a tad verbose but, by the 10th minute, I realized he had something vital to share…and he does so very well.

The Major Scale

The Major Scale on a Guitar

Guitarists view the guitar neck as being broken up into blocks of four frets, and, depending on what key you want to play in, your hand is positioned over that block of four frets. Two octaves of every pitch within that scale are located within each four-fret block. This is not complicated…keep reading.

Major scales on the guitar follow the pattern shown below. Play the notes in the number order they appear below (remember, the 8 of the first octave serves as the 1 of the second octave). To play major scales on the guitar, you just move that pattern along the neck of the guitar to build whatever major scale you’d like.

Image of guitar fretboard showing the major scale

This major scale pattern works up and down the guitar neck. In the diagram above, #1 is on the 6th string (closest to your chin) and is on the 2nd fret so it’s an F# (remember, the 6th string is an ‘E’ so the sequence is open E, 1st fret F, and 2nd fret F#).

The key that you play in is determined by the first and last notes of the scale, so if you were asked to play an A major scale on the guitar, you would simply start the scale on the 5th fret.

To play each scale on the guitar, begin with the correct fret on the 6th string (again, the top string as you hold the guitar or the low E string), which is as follows:

Open string: E

1st fret: F

2nd fret: F# or Gb

3rd fret: G

4th fret: G# or Ab

5th fret: A

6th fret: A# or Bb

7th fret: B

8th fret: C

9th fret: C# or Db

10th fret: D

11th fret: D# or Eb

12th fret: E

(notice that there is no half step between B and C).

Learn Minor Pentatonic Scale Tricks on Guitar

Reverb is an awesome site to buy and sell used guitars. They also have some great free online guitar lessons. This is a more advanced lesson around the pentatonic scale that I reference on the basic ‘how to play guitar’ post. Anyway, it’s well taught and easy to follow so get ready to up your guitar game.

Watch as Joe teaches some nifty bits of information on the versatile minor pentatonic scale. After a quick rundown on the basics of the scale, Joe shows us how to descend four notes and ascend three for a classic sound, play the fifth note above every note in the scale, and add a non-pentatonic note for subtle color and flavor to a riff or solo. Yeah, that sounds like a mouthful but, trust me, you will understand!

How To Play Guitar

How to Play Guitar

This is Step 2 & 3 in the Guitar Toys Method: 5 Days to Guitar Bliss

So, this, after over 20 years, is the one lesson I wish I learned during my first week of learning to play guitar. I’ll have a lot more so say about this concept in future posts but there are three important things I want you to grasp right now: 1) the blues scale or minor pentatonic scale is very important to learn; 2) you must learn all five positions (along the fretboard) of this important scale; and 3) this is NOT complicated!

(Note: if you don’t know what a major scale is yet, please click here now)

Before watching the video below, take a look at this visual presentation of the notes along the fretboard (imagine the fretboard is lying on your lap and you’re looking down at it):


Image of guitar tab of minor pentatonic scale or blues scale in A

And here is one of the best guitar teachers, Marty Schwartz, showing what it all means:

Go to Step 4 of the Guitar Toys Method: 5 Days to Guitar Bliss