Scales — 14 July 2012

This lesson we take a look at the five pentatonic major shapes. Instead of learning in the key of A, we’re going to learn these shapes in the key of G. The reason for this is so that you get to know other keys right from the off. It’s very easy to get stuck into knowing one key, for example A, but not knowing how to play in any other keys.

You should recognise the shapes as the same shapes as the pentatonic minor scale. However, you should see that position one is now position five and likewise all the other shapes have different numbers. This is because there are different notes involved, but when these notes are laid out across the neck of the guitar, they share the same shapes as the minor scale but stepped down three frets (one and a half tones).

Below are the five shapes of the pentatonic major scale. The TAB shows where these positions should be placed to play in the key of G major:

G Major Pentatonic Scale – Position One

G Pentatonic Major Position One
G Major Pentatonic Scale – Position Two

G Pentatonic Major Position Two
G Major Pentatonic Scale – Position Three

G Pentatonic Major Position Three
G Major Pentatonic Scale – Position Four

G Pentatonic Major Position Four
G Major Pentatonic Scale – Position Five

G Pentatonic Major Position Five

As with learning any scale shapes, make sure you practice each shape both ascending and descending as much as possible.

To help you learn these scales, below are some exercises that run up and down each shape. Just like the pentatonic minor exercises, these follow the pattern of running up three strings, back one and then up another three strings and so on until you reach the top of the scale. As you are learning these scale shapes, it is very important that you spread your fingers out correctly. Remember to keep one finger to each fret as much as possible. With some of the shapes that are spread over more than four frets, you will have to change your hand position but as long as you keep to the rule of using one finger per fret, you won’t go too far wrong.

Position one:

G Pentatonic Major Scale Position One TAB

Position two:

G Pentatonic Major Scale Position Two TAB

Position three:

G Pentatonic Major Scale Position Three TAB

Position four:

G Pentatonic Major Scale Position Four TAB

Position five:

G Pentatonic Major Scale Position Five TAB

As with all the other shapes we have learnt, you need to be aware of where the important notes are within each shape. In the case of the pentatonic major scale, the notes you should be looking for are the root notes (R) and the thirds (3). Take a look at the diagram below to see how these notes are mapped out on the neck if you were to play the pentatonic major scale in the key of G:

 pentatonic major scale five positions

image credit – mad house photography

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