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Quick Tip: The Minor Pentatonic Using 3 Notes Per String

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The minor pentatonic scale is usually the first scale every guitar player learns and, most of the time, the first we get rid of. Today I want to show you a different way to use this scale, so that you can apply it in contexts where you normally wouldn’t, and come up with cool riff.


Step 1: Three Notes Per String

Here I graph out a pattern for the E minor pentatonic, playing three notes per string. You can look at it as the combination of Pattern 4 and Pattern 5 in E minor, if you’re familiar with the CAGED system or simply as a pattern itself.

minorpentatonic-10-Pattern45

I find myself using this pattern a lot, since I have the root on the sixth string and that makes it easy to visualize.


Step 2: Let’s Cover the Neck

Here I graph out another two patterns, the first with the root on the fifth string, and the second one with the root on the fourth string. The second one requires a bit of a stretch on your left hand, but it allows you to cover the entire neck - in this case, in the key of E.

minorpentatonic-21-Pattern23
minorpentatonic-22-Pattern51

Step 3: Why?

What are the advantages of using this scale?

  1. If you’re a “legato player” you can really take advantage of having three notes on the same string instead of two. Normally the pentatonic scale forces you to change strings too quickly, and this can be an issue when you’re not playing a blues/rock’n’roll lick.
  2. As you can notice, every time you change strings you repeat the same note, because this scale has just five notes in it. That gives you a unique sound!
  3. Combining your legato technique with a wider interval scale like the pentatonic allows you to play this scale in jazz and also metal contexts, making it sound like different scales.
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