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Published on March 2nd, 2015 | by Sam


Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

pentatonic scale fingeringsThe pentatonic scale is one of the most common scales you will hear in American music – jazz, blues, rock, country, they all have extensive use of the scale.  It’s become cliche, but you still absolutely need to know the scale and many pentatonic scale fingerings in order to play these styles successfully.  Here we will go over 6 of the most common and useful pentatonic scale fingerings.

Naming Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

I usually use a naming system that names each scale by the root’s starting finger and starting string.  So if a pentatonic scale fingering starts on the low E string with the first finger it is called ‘1E.’  Simple right?

Pentatonic Scale Fingering 1E

This is the one you likely already know.  It’s commonly the first scale taught in guitar lessons and is one that most rock and blues solos use.  That said, it’s a must know and should be included in your practice routine at some point.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

Pentatonic Scale Fingering 4E

This pentatonic scale fingering starts with the pinky on the E string.  All of the pinky notes in this fingering are the same as the first finger notes on the 1E fingering.  This scale is used commonly in pieces, but you rarely see much of lower notes used in solos.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

Pentatonic Scale Fingering 1A

The 1A fingering is very similar to the 1E scale.  This fingering can give your solos a lift once you understand how to get to it in the key you’re in.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

Pentatonic Scale Fingering 3A

The 3A fingering is a little different from the others we’ve used so far. You will have to stretch down to get the 9th fret on the G string.  This fingering has some really untapped but useful stuff in it, so spend some time getting used to this one.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

Pentatonic Scale Fingering 1D

The final one position scale fingering is the 1D.  This one is mainly known as an extension from the 1E pentatonic scale fingering.  Make sure to learn the lower strings as well.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

Sliding Pentatonic Scale Fingering

The sliding scale is a fingering that changes position throughout the fingering.  This one can get you all the way across the neck fairly easily.  It also has several licks ‘built into’ the fingering.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

Practicing the Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

Practicing any scale fingering involves much more than just playing the scale up and down.  When you are improvising, you have to be able to start really anywhere within the scale.  Also most solos/musical phrases are made up of pieces of the scale, not the entire scale at once.  So you have to be able to play in many different parts of the scale.

The first pattern we’ll look at is the ‘four note pattern.’  To play this pattern, basically just play the scale in sets of four notes at a time.  Go up 4 notes, then start on the second note and go up 4 from there.  If you counted this way it would be “1,2,3,4  2,3,4,5  3,4,5,6” etc.  Try playing through the exercise and the pattern will start to sink in.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings practice pattern

The second pattern we will look at is the triplet pattern.  This one is taken from several rock solos (particularly Jimmy Page).  The idea of this pattern is to go down one note of the scale and then return to the starting note.  It’s a simple idea, but is really effective.

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings practice pattern

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