Pentatonic Scale One-on-One Lesson
- Position Shifting

Do you want to learn how to play fast between the different pentatonic boxes... being able to connect them fluidly and seamlessly ...complement your bends with lightning fast horizontal runs...?

Your journey begins here! In this first pentatonic scale lesson, I am going to reveal "the trick" which allowed me to venture out of the box thinking and start improvising my way around the fretboard.

Basically, you have to understand the process of horizontal thinking...

 

 

 

      Step 1 - learn at least two pentatonic boxes

 

The first step of the lesson is to learn two pentatonic boxes that are adjacent.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: This lesson is pointless if you don't know at least TWO pentatonic boxes (read on to learn them).

Now, if you have been around GMC for a while, you are probably pretty tired of the first pentatonic box by now. I'll put it here anyway for those of you who don't know it by heart yet.

 

The read dots are the root notes, the root note means the note from which the scale is based upon. The root note of an A minor pentatonic scale will of course be A.

General note about practicing scales...

You need to memorise where the root note is situated for a number of reasons, one is because it is essential to moving the scale up/down to another key. Also, when practicing the scale it is extremely important to start from the root note (if you are note playing the scale to an A minor backing).

If you don't, you run risk of hearing another note as the root note - and all of a sudden you are no longer playing the A minor pentatonic scale (let's say you are hearing the C note as your root note, you will then be hearing a C major pentatonic scale).

Conclusion: The same scale diagram can actually sound like a different scales depending on which "root harmony" you are hearing. If this seems complicated, don't worry, just take my word for it...

 

Needless to say - in order to start switching between different boxes you need to at least know two different ones. So here is the second A minor pentatonic box:

 

If we connect box 1 and 2 we get:

 

        

Step 2 - start moving around

 

This is the last thing you need to get down before you can start your horizontal soloing. As illustrated in the video, many guitarists tend to get stuck after having learned a couple of scale boxes. If you follow the mental exercise illustarted in the video you won't have any problems "breaking out of the box".

The idea is to practice making a position shift on each and every string - so that you always will be free to play in any direction you want - no matter where your improvisation has led you. This is the only way I have found to achieve fretboard freedom.

Here is how an ascending position shift on the d-string, going from box 1 to box 2 could look like:

 

[Box1--------][Box2]
e|------------------|
b|------------------|
g|------------------|
d|---------5-7/10---|
a|-----5-7----------|
e|-5-8--------------|

 

A descending position shift from box 2 to box 1:

[Box2--------][Box1]
e|-10-8----------------|
b|------10-8-----------|
g|-----------9\7-------|
d|---------------------|
a|---------------------|
e|---------------------|

 

Do this for each and every string, and you will be a better guitarist in no time.

Use the provided backing to practice position shifting in A minor pentatonic.

Good luck,

PS Notice how the backing intro is harmonized in fourths (more about it in the GMC harmonizing lesson).

 

Backing track Pentatonic scale1 backing (100 bpm)

Backing track Backing track slow

TabBacking track tab

 

Related lessons:
Pentatonic Scale lesson 2
Pentatonic Scale lesson 3



     Lesson Questions, Feedback & Comments





raqroso
post 2nd November 2006


Member


I thought the lessons in this series were extrememly helpful..

The diagnal run from the third lesson (I think it's the third) is in my daily practice routine/I follow my speed progress on it with a metronome.

Kris really "taught us to fish" with this series: I started to practice his patterns and then make make up my own little riffs, patterns etc and then play them ascending/descending in each of the 5 positions.

I also started playing a pattern game called "Pick,Pick slide" - I start somewhere on the 6 or 5 string and then I sound the note with the pick,then pick the next note in the scale, then slide to the next note and do it again moving thru the 5 patterns accross all the strings as you "pick, pick slide" your way along... "pick, pick slide"...you really move thru the patterns doing it that way and you learn how they connct quickly.
Kristofer Dahl
post 11th November 2006


Member


Hey Ragroso! You know I am a fisherman... biggrin.gif

Seriously - I am glad this is working for you. My playing wouldn't be anything if wasn't for the pentatonic scale and all the interesting things you can do with it!
Leon
post 29th December 2006


Member


good lesson, just one question.
to bring more variation to the scale, is it okey
to bend up to the note in the scale from a lower note?

so for example:

e|----5------5------5-|
b|5-6b--5-6b---5-6b---|
g|--------------------|
d|--------------------|
a|--------------------|
e|--------------------|

insted of

e|----5----5-----5-|
b|5-7--5-7---5-7---|
g|-----------------|
d|-----------------|
a|-----------------|
e|-----------------|
Kristofer Dahl
post 29th December 2006


Member


Leon: Absolutely! The more variations you can think of - the better!
edgor67
post 14th March 2007


Member


So ya have to memorize the root notes to move from pentatonic box to box. Ok. I'm between this lesson and the second pentatonic lesson. I practice scales, beginer licks, picking, and am working all 5 pentatonic boxes,basic tapping, and using a metronome (100 bpm). I practice about an hour a night, more on the weekends. I have a full load this GMC semester. I don't know where I'm going but it's a fun journey. Cheers proffesor! ed
Da^Jabbster
post 25th March 2007


Member


sorry about posting this but im a little cofused about shifting to the root notes!
ok say i want to play A minor box 1 then i want to move/slide to box 2 A minor do i have to move/slide to a root note or can i move/slide to a fret that has a root note on mmm as you can see the box below that kris put on when your descending he slides to from fret 9/7 on the g string there for hes not moving/slideing on a root note but he ends up moving/slideing to fret 9 that has a root note on. anyways be very grateful if you could help thx

[Box2--------][Box1]
e|-10-8----------------|
b|------10-8-----------|
g|-----------97-------|
d|---------------------|
a|---------------------|
e|---------------------|
Da^Jabbster
post 25th March 2007


Member


i ment he ends up moving to fret 7 not 9
Kristofer Dahl
post 10th April 2007


Member


edgor: Glad to hear! biggrin.gif

kingjabba: Not usre I am with you - but the shift from 9 to 7 is the actual position shift!
hvidtsted
post 15th April 2007


Member


Best lesson so far for me, opened my eyes quite a bit. You say there are three ways of changing from box to box: To start with the last one you explained, is it required to pick the string twice, that's in both boxes before you switch box?
Also i see you never use your pinky. The guitar teacher i had for half a year before i was sent to denmarks answer to a boarding school - allways told me it would be best if i used one finger per fret. eg: index for 4th fret the big mot... for the 5th fret ring for 6th and pinky for the 7th fret. hence is it okay to slide with the pinky? And what do you think about his advice?
atomicSpatule
post 25th May 2007


Member


Personally, I try to use the pinky only when necessary, because it's the least strong finger. I think it's a preference thing, though
Andrew Cockburn
post 25th May 2007


Member


QUOTE (atomicspatule @ May 25 2007, 08:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Personally, I try to use the pinky only when necessary, because it's the least strong finger. I think it's a preference thing, though


Probably better to bite the bullet and strengthen it up or you may limit yourself later on, depending on what style you play.
FretDancer69
post 12th June 2007


Member


Great lesson, but i have a doubt..Why are both boxes named AM if you play them differently? Is a Scale the same thing as a box?

Also, just for curiosity, what makes a scale, a pentatonic scale?
Andrew Cockburn
post 12th June 2007


Member


QUOTE (FretDancer69 @ Jun 12 2007, 01:09 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great lesson, but i have a doubt..Why are both boxes named AM if you play them differently? Is a Scale the same thing as a box?
Also, just for curiosity, what makes a scale, a pentatonic scale?


Almost but not quite ...

As you know, a scale is a root note + the formula for that scale (we discussed this a couple of day ago smile.gif). The pentatonic scale is no different - it is just a root note plus the pentatonic formula, which is 3-2-2-3-2

Each scale can be played in many, many different ways on the guitar, so we talk about patterns for a particular scale. For each scale there will be multiple different patterns.

Boxes are an attempt to cut down on this variety and give you a selection of common and easy patterns that you can play in various places up and down the neck. For pentatonic, Major and Minor, there are 5 boxes that people commonly use, and since they all contain the same notes (though with different start and end points) they are all considered the same scale, just played as different patterns or boxes.

Boxes are a great starting point for understanding the fretboard, but they are a tool that you should eventually discard, or they will end up limiting you.

I go into this a little in my introduction to scales lesson.
FretDancer69
post 12th June 2007


Member


Ok, thanks andrew! so the formula is T-S-S-T-S?
ok, but whta about the last question:
What makes a scale, a pentatonic scale, what does pentatonic mean?
thanks so much.
Andrew Cockburn
post 12th June 2007


Member


QUOTE (FretDancer69 @ Jun 12 2007, 03:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ok, thanks andrew! so the formula is T-S-S-T-S?
ok, but whta about the last question:
What makes a scale, a pentatonic scale, what does pentatonic mean?
thanks so much.


Not quite -

T = Tone = 2
S = SemiTone = 1

As you can see the Penatonic formula I gave has some 3s in it - thats a tone and a half or 3 frets. which is why of late I have switched to using numbers instead of T/S. If you had to write it down that way it would be:

T+1/2 T T T+1/2 T

Which is a little harder to understand. Its called the Pentatonic because it has 5 notes in it (Penta = 5) - and since it only has 5 notes the gaps have to be bigger which is why you get tone and a half intervals in it.
FretDancer69
post 12th June 2007


Member


ok i get it now, well it seems ill have to start using numbers now. thanks andrew.
jammer91
post 15th June 2007


Member


I have a question...
Is the penatonic box movable around the fret board if the same pattern is followed?

In other words can i start playin on the tenth fret E string instead ofthe fifth?
Andrew Cockburn
post 15th June 2007


Member


QUOTE (jammer91 @ Jun 15 2007, 07:55 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have a question...
Is the penatonic box movable around the fret board if the same pattern is followed?
In other words can i start playin on the tenth fret E string instead ofthe fifth?


Definately! If you use the first (of five) pentatonic box and start on fret 5 of E you will be playing A minor pentatonic. If you move that same shape up so you are starting on the E string fret 10, you will be playing D minor pentatonic.
jammer91
post 30th June 2007


Member


Do you have to play the notes in the same order in a scale box or can you skip a few notes here and there?

Im finding this complicated, like wouldnt it be robotic if guitarists played a scale in the same order? All songs would sound so similar...

What scales are good for metal?
Andrew Cockburn
post 30th June 2007


Member


Once you have the notes down you can play them in any order you think sounds good - the timing and selection of notes is what makes a good riff, the scale is just a palette to pick from.
quebrado
post 11th December 2007


Member


great lesson, it's helping a lot, thanks;)
muntahunta
post 18th December 2007


Member


.... ive been playing for years and ive been stuck in the vertical playing... thanks to the sliding into another box on this tutorial i went from playing 5 boxes seperatly to being able to move horizontally with ease in just a couple of hours.

im more than happy to keep sending money your way if this is what i find.

and the new organiser on the front page is amazing. thanks kris!
Jelle
post 8th January 2008


Member


in the exercise is says that you have to go from
5---7/10 on the d string but in the sliding diagram for a minor there's no slide from 7/10.
is this becuase there's another pentatonic box in a minor after the second one we can lear in this lesson?
777-HAIRMETAL4HIM-777
post 25th January 2008


Member


HELPED A LOT THANKS
Carlos Carrillo
post 22nd February 2008


Member


Hey Kris!!!great lesson!!!thanks
Ava
post 26th February 2008


Member


I love this lesson! I have one question though, which is pretty similar to the one Da^Jabbster had...

If I start in the 1st Am pentatonic box playing it ascending (I hope I haven't mixed the terms together!)starting on the 6th string, do I have to switch from a root note to a root note when doing the switch, or can I just switch from one note in the 1st box to the nearest note in the 2nd box on the same string? I'm really benifiting from this site, so it would be a shame if I learned something wrong. Hopefully my question made sense!

Jesse
post 7th July 2008


Member


The one thing.. I wanted to learn the most.. AWESOME!!! Improver my improvising like crazy! Thanks!
sidewas lightning
post 24th September 2008


Member


This was THE PERFECT LESSON!!!
When I started playing guitar, I learned the first box, the fifth fret one, that was my first scale. So when I tried to improvise, I always played notes around that scale. This lesson SAVED MY GUITAR PLAYING! Thanks!
joandelason
post 30th September 2008


Member


Hey Chris!
One question:
when going down the scale (the same scale, eg A minor scale), do you make hammer ons?
mavel
post 26th October 2008


Member


sidewas lighting: the same as you! Keeping on playing the same scale forever... And now the light.
g0llum33
post 17th April 2009


Member


Tnx Kris, golden lesson ;-)
Kristian Hyvarinen
post 16th November 2009


Member


Hey Kris,

I find this kind of a lesson EXTREMELY helpful along my way! This is perfect material for those who either find themselves having trained for years and not knowing anything about anything (like me), or for beginners who lack the motivation to train scales. This is good for motivating me!


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