Pentatonic Scales: Master the Fretboard Quickly and Easily & Sound Like a Pro, I
Pentatonic Scales: Master the Fretboard Quickly and Easily & Sound Like a Pro, In One Hour (or Less)
Copyright 2015-2017 by Dan Amerson – All rights reserved.
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Table of Contents
Appendix A – Left-handed Player Resources
Chapter I – Introduction
I’m very excited to teach you very simple techniques that will allow you to build a great framework of scales.
This eBook is for guitarists who either know nothing about scales, or who have a little bit of experience with scales, but can’t seem to master the information.
To you, scales may seem boring, unnecessary, tedious, or just too complicated. In my opinion, this is because scales are taught as tiny pieces of a complicated puzzle.
The method that you will learn in this eBook will tie all the pieces together for you. Once I’ve taught you the necessary skills, all you’ll have to do is practice them until they are a part of you (and yes, you still have to do practicing).
First, we will cover the major and minor scales by their intervals. You will find that the scales are connected in a very interesting way.
Second, I will teach you how to play the scales vertically (from string to string).
Third, you’ll learn how to play scales horizontally (from one part of the neck to the other).
Last, we’ll strip away some notes of the scales to create the pentatonic scales.
By the end, you’ll have created a nexus of notes in all parts of the fret board, which means that you’ll always be able to figure out how to play any of the four scales on your guitar:
– Natural Major scale
p. – Natural Minor scale
p. – Major Pentatonic scale
p. – Minor Pentatonic scale
This ebook will use several charts, for both left-handed and right-handed players, to illustrate the point.. Keep in mind that every single chart are is part of one scale. I’ll explain this a little later.
Please take the time to read through the exercises below, with guitar on lap. You’ll be delighted to find your perspective on scales shift for the better.
Chapter II – Review of Natural Major and Minor
The famous composer, Debussy, has referred to the admirable quality of music as “the space between the notes”. Lots of people misattribute this quote to the silence between the notes of a song.
It actually refers to the ‘dividing of the notes’; this means that there are spaces between notes that distinguish between a higher note and a lower note in pitch. That space is called an .
A series of notes with a specific sequence of intervals is called a .
The major and minor scale is made up of small intervals; no note in either of these scales is greater than two semitones apart (if you don’t know what a semitone or a whole tone is, a quick search will help you out).
The natural majors and minor scales are quite similar because they share a similar sequence of intervals. We will eventually compare the two, but let’s start with one at a time.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand the concepts right away, don’t worry; it will all be represented in a nifty visual chart.
In this scale, the C note is the root, which means that the scale starts and ends there.
The ^ symbol indicates that the two notes on each side are one semitone apart.
So, B and C, and E and F, are one semitone apart.
*The rest of the intervals are two semitones apart.***
Notice anything similar about this scale?
It is the same scale as the major scale, but the root is A instead of C. It’s a different starting point.
The intervals are exactly the same, so B and C, and E and F are one semitone apart in both scales.
Interestingly, you can begin your scale on B, (D, E, F, or G), play an octave scale, and you’ll get a different sound or “feel” from each one. This is what are called the modes, where you may have heard of names like ‘Lydian’, ‘Dorian’, or ‘Mixolydian’.
Or, you can change the intervals in the scale, and so you will have an entirely different scale. We won’t be covering that today.
But, here’s where it gets pretty interesting…
We can figure out a way to group the notes of this scale together into a set that’s easy to remember, and easy to play, wherever you want on the fret board.
Let’s jump to the next page and cover this directly.
Chapter III – Dividing The Major/Minor Scale Groups
Let’s divide the scale into 2 or 3 note groups. It will be color coded for simplicity, as well as easy to reach with our fingers without having to stretch or change positions.
There are 5 note groups in this set, and they repeat themselves forever. Notice the orange-ey colored group (B^CD) that appear at the start and end of this example.
After B^CD, you have E^FG, and then it’s AB^C, then DE^F, GA, and on and on. This is always true of the natural major and minor scales; by this I mean that the notes group themselves very naturally this way.
But, you won’t always be playing with C major or A minor.
Instead of letters, we will substitute numbers in its place. It is an easier way to refer to a scale, no matter what key you are playing in.
Always remember that in a major scale,
1 is the root
6 is the minor root, meaning that you can start the scale there and have a minor scale.
Now, let’s look at each group and give them a name.
Chapter IV – Naming the Scale Groups
L1 – Left #1
Note: How do you play these notes? I don’t want to confuse you before we even begin. What you want to do is pretend that each box is equivalent to one fret. From what angle? Lay your guitar flat on your lap, strings facing up, and look down onto the fretboard. Pretend that each row of numbers (like the 7-1-2 numbers below) has a guitar string cutting through them.
The first scale group is called L1. I named it so because there are more notes on the left side than there are on the right side.
Note: This applies to right-handed players (those touching frets with your left hand). If you are left-handed, then you have to invert the group, which means you have to flip it as if it were reflected in a mirror.
L2 – Left #2
The second scale group is called L2. I named it so because it is the same shape as L1, and it stacks directly on top of L1 in most cases (we’ll talk about this later).
R1 – Right #1
The third scale group is called R1. I called it this because there are more notes on the right side of the group.
Note: For left-handed players, invert the group (it will look like an L group).
R2 – Right #2
The fourth scale group is called R2. It stacks on top of R1 (we’ll talk about this in the next section).
D2 – Doublet
The fifth scale group is called D2. I named it this because it only contains two notes.
After that, the next scale group is L1. Then the cycle repeats:
L1 – L2 – R1 – R2 – D2 – L1 – L2 – R1 – R2 – D2 , etc.
R2-D2 (get it?)
I’ve given you a few different puzzle pieces, so you may be confused.
Here’s where it all comes together.
Chapter V – Stacking the Scale Group Blocks Together
This is the part where we put together the five blocks together and create a major scale that starts on the 6th string of your guitar. Let’s stack L1, L2, R1, R2, and D2 on top of each other to see what happens. This is the E major form.
Note that the 6th string has the same pattern as the 1st string, because they’re both E strings.
But what if you want to play your scale somewhere else on the neck, you’ll need a different set of blocks.
Question: Which fingers should I use?
The elegance of this system of scales is that it uses easy-to-remember groups of notes. Another quality is that it is very easy for your fingering, since the groups of notes are very close to one another on the fret board, and you’ll rarely need to shift positions.
You (should) have four fingers with which to play guitar, and there are four possible blocks (frets) on any given string.
That means that for a Left block, use your 1st (index), 2nd (middle), and 4th (pinky) fingers.
For a Right block, use your 1st, 3rd (ring) and 4th fingers.
For a D2 block, it’s been easiest when I used my 1st and 3rd fingers.
Between the 2nd and 3rd strings, there is a mild rift in positions because the interval between these notes are different from the others.
You may need to shift positions by one semitone when jumping between the 2nd and 3rd strings. This is unavoidable, but this scale system makes it very manageable.
D major form:
Here is the second set of blocks, which show a new way to play the major scale. It is found to the immediate right (for the right-handed; left for the left-handed) of the first block.
Notice how the blocks don’t stack the same way, compared to the first scale; this is because of the interval between the 2nd and 3rd string on the guitar, which changes the positions of these blocks.
Also, the L1 block seems to hang off the end of the D2 in a way we haven’t seen before.
Notice how the scales overlap each other; where one ends, the other begins.
C major form
Here is the third set of blocks, which is found to the very right of the second set of blocks.
Here’s how the second and third set of blocks overlap.
A major form
Here is the fourth set of blocks, the A major form, which is found to the very right of the third set of blocks.
Here, you can really see the rift between the 2nd and 3rd string; the R blocks usually stack on each other, but not in this case.
Here’s how the third and fourth sets overlap.
Here is the fifth set of blocks, the G major form, which is found to the very right of the fourth pattern.
This time, it’s the left blocks that stack up differently.
Here’s how the fourth and fifth sets overlap.
What happens after the fifth set of blocks?
Why, it blends back into the first set of blocks, of course.
Here’s how it blends together.
Let’s put all these blocks together into a giant set, to give you a bigger picture perspective.
At this point, you should at least be aware that you can play the major (start at the 1st note) and minor scale (start at the 6th note) at all places of the fret board.
It’s fine to still be confused, or worried that you won’t be able to memorize all of this. But at the very least play this on the guitar a few times to become familiar.
Chapter VI – Going from Major to Minor
What about the minor scale?]
It’s about time we talk about the minor scale. As we’ve mentioned before, every note that is in the minor can be found in the major, except that the scale starts with a different root.
Instead of starting on the 1st note, start on the 6th note, and …(get ready)…
Make the 6th note your NEW 1st note.
Shifting your point of focus from major to minor will allow you to play the same notes but to hear the minor scale instead of the major.
I’ve made it very easy for you, by showing you the major scale and then swapping out the notes to create the minor scale in its place.
Play the minor by starting on the 1st note.[
**]Mentally jump back and forth between the major and minor scales.
You’ll eventually “get it” and be able to tell the difference between the two, even though they’re both made of the same notes.
Since the major scale is divided into 5 sections, so is the minor.
Below are subdivisions of the minor scale, using the major scale as a base.
There’s still more to help crystallize this knowledge.
Here are some ground rules to help you remember these patterns:
Every single string is playing a major scale (playing from 1st note to another 1st note) horizontally.
Every single string is also playing a minor scale horizontally.
Moving upwards, the pattern is always L1-L2-R1-R2-D2-repeat.
Since the 1st and 6th guitar strings are both tune to E, the pattern is the same on both strings.
If you are on the root (1st note) of a major scale, you are either in the middle of an L1 pattern, or on the right side of a R1 pattern.
If you are on the root of a minor scale, you are either on the left side of a R1, or on the right note of the D2 pattern.
If you’re playing the first pattern, and you want to play on the second pattern, the 3rd string’s note group for one pattern is the same as the 6th string’s note group for the pattern immediately to its right.
Always mind the interval between the 2nd and 3rd string; to help you out, there is never a semi-tone interval between these strings, so when crossing over, always use the major 2nd interval. Refer to the images to get a clear idea of this rule.
The patterns repeat themselves diagonally; upwards and towards the pickups/sound hole. You need only play two patterns, and then shift sideways to complete the octave. Then, repeat.
Alright! Let’s continue with a system that will help you put this scale into even greater perspective.
Chapter VII – The CAGED System
When you first picked up a guitar, you probably began by playing simple chords.
A major, C major, G major, E major, D major.
Little did you know is that you were playing chords that would help you connect the scales in your mind. What do I mean by this?
I mean that the guitar’s scales are very connected, and the chords help connect these scales in your mind.
To begin, let’s find the every root on your fret board. In this example, we’ll do this on F# major. Check the example below.
There’s a very distinct pattern here (that you should practice and memorize.
When you know that you should look for it, you’ll always know how to find the root of any chord you’re playing.
Now, it’s important that you know that a major chord includes the 3rd and 5th notes along with the 1st. Let’s add those in to the next example.
If you’ve been playing chords for a while, you may notice an interesting pattern here. If not, I’ll lay it out for you below.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I’m referring to the major FORMS. Every single one of the chords above play F# major, but by using different shapes (C major, D major, etc), you can play the F# major (and any other chord) all over the neck.
Wow! Chords you’ve probably already played hundreds of times are indicating how to play the scales all over the fret board, since you can use the chords and make an informed guess on how/where to play your scales.
They are interconnected.
If you want to play the minor chords in a connected fashion, let’s find the 6th note of the F# major. You’ll effectively find the root of the D# minor. Look at the example below.
Now let’s strip away the notes of the major scale and replace them with the minor notes, as seen below.
Let’s now find the minor chords hidden in this mess of notes. We do this below.
Compare this to the major equivalent.
We’ll convert the major to the minor chords to draw a connection.
Notice: wherever you can play an E major form, you can play a D minor form over it. Same goes for C major and A minor, etc.
You can play these complimentary chords over one another, and it is indeed a sound musical choice to do so.
For example: Playing E major chord while a D minor scale is playing, or D minor chord while an E major scale is playing.
If you haven’t already noticed, both major and minor have their own equivalent CAGED system.
C major ↔ A major ↔ G major ↔ E major ↔ D major ↔ C major (repeat)
Same goes with the minors
C minor ↔ A minor ↔ G minor ↔ E minor ↔ D minor ↔ C minor (repeat)
Likewise, there is a juxtaposition of the major and minor CAGED:
C minor form = D major form (ex: D major chord, B minor chord)[
**]A minor form = C major form (ex: C major chord, A minor chord)[
**]G minor form = A major form (ex: A major chord, F# minor chord)[
**]E minor form = G major form (ex: G major chord, E minor chord)[
**]D minor form = E major form (ex: E major chord, C# minor chord)
Great! We’ve gotten a better handle of these patterns.
You now need to practice these scales over and over, comparing major to minor, jumping from one part of the neck to the other.
You’ve gotten everything you need to play both major and minor scales.
But what about the pentatonic scales?
In the next section, you’ll soon find that natural scales and pentatonic scales are very much alike.
Let’s jump into it.
Chapter VIII – Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales
‘Pentatonic’ is similar to ‘Pentagon’ as both contain five of something. While a pentagon has five sides, a pentatonic has five tones.
The pentatonic differs from the pentagon in the sense that it is widely used in many musical contexts. It is also an appropriate musical choice in several contexts, and is rather easy to use if you understand the fundamentals.
Most guides that teach the pentatonic will give you a set of patterns to remember, all without context. This makes the task of memorizing it all the more difficult. But if you learn the relationship between the pentatonic and the natural scales, then you’ll have a better grasp of the material.
What is interesting is that the pentatonic scales fits perfectly over the natural scale.
Yet, a natural major or minor scale has 7 tones (C D E F G A B), whereas the pentatonic scales has 5 tones.
If the pentatonic scale uses some of the tones of the natural scale, but uses fewer tones, that means that you need to cut away from the natural scale to be able to play it properly.
We’ll show many examples that will transform both natural major and minor scales into pentatonic scales.
To make a major pentatonic, take a natural major scale, and remove the 4th and 7th notes.
So, you keep the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th = 5 notes
In a C major scale, that means C, D, E, G, and A
If we’re playing C major… 1 = C, 2 = D, 3 = E, 5 = G, 6 = A,
Put it all together:
You’re still able to play chords over this framework, just like you could with the natural major.
Let’s address the minor versions.
Once again, the major and minor pentatonic use the same notes, but begin in different places.
The notes have been reformatted with the appropriate minor notes, unlike earlier in this ebook. To make the transition easier, I have included the major form, which we will convert to their minor form.
Here is the major pentatonic above, superimposed with the minor pentatonic below.
That said, you can switch between the major and minor pentatonic, just like you can with the natural scales.
If you feel like you’re drowning in charts and notes, don’t worry!
Remember that every single chart is a reflection of the natural major and minor scales; all you have to do is find them.
Before we finish, let’s go over some tweaks that will help you play the pentatonic scales anywhere you want.
To Keep in Mind for Pentatonic Scales
By removing certain notes from the natural scale, you inevitably lose some information. In the natural scale, we’ve been naming the note blocks things like L1, R1, D2 to describe them. Since we’ve removed certain key
notes that served as identifiers, we can no longer use L1, R1, D2 to describe them. We need to use different terms if we are to refer to these blocks sensibly with pentatonic scales.
Truths about both Major and Minor
As you wish, you can jump between the natural and pentatonic scales. Here are some tips that will help you jump back and forth with great ease.
The “crossover point” between the L2 and R1 (I call it that because the middle note from the left note group appears to stand out again the middle note from the right note group) can signal to you that both L2 and R1 are Big #1 and Big #2.
To restate the previous point, when you find Big #1 and #2, you know that the bottom one is a Left block, and the top is a Right block.
R2 (above R1), due to losing its rightmost note, becomes a doublet
L1 (beneath L2), due to losing its leftmost note, becomes a doublet
D2, as usual, remains a doublet, so it isn’t changed.
D2 is situated between D1 and D3. Above D2, you can play L1. Beneath D2, you can play R2.
Truths about Major
The root is on Doublet #3 (D3)
Immediately above are Big #1 and Big #2
The root is also on Big #2
Immediately above are the 3 doublets
Truths about the Minor
The root is on Big #2
Immediately above are the 3 doublets
The root is also on D2
D2 is between D1 and D3
 Chapter IX -Time to Practice!
Here’s where it gets fun! Here’s a list of ways to apply what you’ve learned here today.
1) Stack the note groups (L1-L2-R1…) appropriately all over the fret board in one major key.
2) Stack the note groups (L1-L2-R1…) appropriately all over the fret board in one minor key.
3) Find the 1st, 3rd, 5th all over the fret board in one major key.
4) Find the 1st, 3rd, 5th (sometimes referred to as 6th, 1st, 3rd) all over the fret board in one minor key.
5) Play CAGED (play through all the equivalent forms of one key) with major chords.
6) Play CAGED (play through all the equivalent forms of one key) with minor chords.
7) Cut away the necessary notes to make pentatonic scales out of the original natural scales. Do this for both major and minor.
8) Play the major pentatonic all across the fret board
9) Play the minor pentatonic all across the fret board.
10) Connect the major and minor pentatonic (there’s no real technique to this; simply change the major root to the minor root in your mind back and forth from time to time.
Some suggestions: E major/minor, A major/minor, D major/minor, C major/minor
This is all you need to understand to integrate scales into your guitar playing. Of course, it takes some creativity to use scales to solo with style, but now that you’re aware of it, you can catch on to examples of its use in the songs you listen to.
These 4 scales are a great window into the world of fret board mastery. This is because there exist other scales, and the knowledge of these four scales will be the foundation that allows you to deviate and experiment with different intervals, notes, numbers, etc.
Most of your problems will come from not knowing where any given root is on the fret board. Once you have your root, you can figure out new scales, chords, etc.
I sincerely hope you’ve learned something valuable from this eBook.
Please read ahead for the left-handed charts.
Until next time.
Please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon. I’ll do my part to keep improving this ebook to make it as pedagogic (easy-to-learn) as possible.
Appendix A – Left-handed Player Resources
I’ll assume you have read the entirety of the ebook up to this point, but didn’t go through the mental gymnastics of flipping the chords.
Instead of just dumping numerous charts in the section for left-handed players, I’ll give some tips to make use of the right-handed terminology.
First, the L and R blocks.
To make it easier, use the direction to refer to the space between the notes.
L block = the space (where no note is played) is to the left of the group[
**]R block = the space (where no note is played) is to the right of the group
Keep in mind that the blocks are being stacked from the head of the guitar down towards the pickups / soundboard in this order
C - A- G- E - D - C - A -G -E - D , etc.
Here’s the major scale, if you put everything together.
Here’s the major scale, with root, 3rd and 5th notes highlighted.
From this, you can suss out the major chords.
Here’s the transfer from major to minor in the scale:
And here are the minor chords that you can derive from the minor scale.
Transition to Pentatonic
We’ll take the major, and cut out the 4th and 7th notes.
Let’s do the same with the minor, which cuts out the 2nd and 6th note (the same notes as the 4th and 7th in the major scale).
And last, here’s the conversion from major pentatonic forms to minor pentatonic forms.
I know you lefties are always getting the short end of the stick, but hopefully this will be enough to help you understand the concepts.
Pentatonic Scales: Master the Fretboard Quickly and Easily & Sound Like a Pro, I
Do YOU Know Your Scales? Are You Sure..?
I spent 9 years playing guitar, even getting to a high level, without knowing my scales backwards and forwards. I was actually embarrassed when I jammed with others. It turns out that I focused too much on technique instead of theory.
So I dropped everything and created a never-before-seen system that would go on to help me master my scales. Now, I play them backwards and forwards.
You’re about to discover how to play four scales anywhere on the fretboard:
- The natural major
- The natural minor
- The major pentatonic, and
- The minor pentatonic
You will be able to look down at your fret-board, and instead of looking at it with confusion, you'll be able to play your scales anywhere you'd like.
When your friend plays a chord, you'll be able to play over that chord anyway you'd like.
You'll also be able to jump between these natural and pentatonic scales. These skills form the basis to every other skill related to improvisation on the guitar.
Here Is A Preview Of What You'll Learn...
- Learn how these four basic scales are connected
- Learn five basic building blocks that make it so very easy to learn all scales
- Jump around the fretboard, both upwards and sideways
- Learn how scales are connected to chords
- Discover how the CAGED system is intimately connected to these four scales
- Learn how to convert one type of scale into another at will
- Tons of charts, for both left-handed and right-handed players
- Much, much more!
Can you honestly say that you can do all those things?
If yes, show this to a friend. If not, then...
Download your copy today!
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This book is part of a series that teach guitar technique, theory, improvisation, and eventual mastery.
- ISBN: 9781370791712
- Author: Dan Amerson
- Published: 2017-05-09 00:05:22
- Words: 4880