Unlocking The Pentatonic Scale

Ayla Tesler-Mabe  /  Lessons / Apr 13

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Scale Chart

Anyone with a guitar and a love for music wants to be able to unlock the guitar to its full potential. And every player has a different approach to mastering the guitar and understanding the intimidating fretboard. There’s no right or wrong way to look at it, but the three tips from this lesson might be easier.

We’re going to take the pentatonic scale and only use two out of the five positions of the scale. It’s best to get a good grip on two positions first instead of attempting to accomplish all five at once. We don’t want you to get frustrated when playing!

Eventually, you’re going to get to the point where the scale and its notes are so internalized, you’ll know the positions like the back of your hand and you’ll know where you can play additional notes and colors. But first, let’s start with these three tips & tricks:

Trick #1 – Know the Root Note
The key to fully understanding the guitar is locating the root note of the scale. In this lesson, for example, we’re playing the A Minor Pentatonic Scale, so we’ll find the root note of A (5th fret) and build the scale shape from there.

Trick #2 – Add Musical Context
The best way to remember these scales and their notes is by playing through them! Look at diagrams (you can download the scale charts from this lesson above), or written notation — whatever helps you out! Once you’re more comfortable, you can use the scale in a musical context. Play over a backing track and try experimenting with how you play the scale. You’ll find melodies from changing the order you play the scale in or by mixing up the phrasing.

Trick #3 – Master One Part of the Neck
No matter where you move the scale on the neck, it’s going to be the same five notes recycled over and over again. So start with mastering ONE part of the neck to keep it simple and accessible. So when you hear a lick, you know where to find it.

Spend some time internalizing root notes! Beyond that, learn your intervals to understand the complex theory and harmony on guitar…or at least just find the sounds you like.

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