Advanced Pentatonic Lessons 1-5


Advanced Pentatonic Lesson 1


Let’s take a look at the scales I’ve been talking about.

Pentatonic – Of or using only five tones

You can consider Pentatonic a scale with five notes for this subject matter.

The Blues Scale is essentially the Minor Pentatonic Scale with a b5 added in. A good percentage of the time they are both considered the same scale, in general terms. Even though the Blues scale has 6 notes in it, it’s quite frequently termed as “one of the Pentatonic scales”…maybe not in books but in real live conversation.

The Red Dot in the diagram is the Root note of the scale. If you play from Root to Root, you have played an Octave. And if you notice, these scales encompass two octave and then some, moving into the third octave (Root to Root to Root).

Each of these scales has the Root note of G. Each of them has the lowest Root at the 3rd fret of the E string. Making them the particular “G” scale.

You can see how the first two scales differ when they are next to each other. The only common notes between the Blues and the Major Pentatonic are the Root and 5th (G and D respectively). So, there isn’t a lot in common between them at this point.

Now when you look at the Super-Imposed scale you can see these scale grow immediately. You can see chromatic notes, and notes that run parallel to each other, and three note on a string formations, AND chords (I’ll get into the chords in the next lesson).

Play a G chord and play each of these scales individually. The Blues and the Pentatonic will sound acceptable, but the Super-imposed won’t as much. But, play that Super-Imposed scale over and over against the G chord very slowly to the point where the note you are playing harmonizes against the chord. You’ll find that each of the notes adds dimension to the chord, some better than others for sure, but doing this is where you find the notes that are, let’s say, “safe” to end on or give the sound it’s most direct vision.

Some notes blend in with the chord, some notes color the chord, and some notes sound displaced against the chord.

These are the things to start listening for. It’s good to notice these things as:


  1. if you want a kind of comp'ing lead line that doesn’t stray from the chord too much, the blending notes will work, as in a funky or rhythm-type line the falls in with the rest of the rhythm section but doesn’t stand out.


  1. if you want a “bigger” sound against the chord, like your extending it, you can use the notes that “color” the chord.


  1. if you want tension, use the notes that rub the chord badly. Maybe use it as a starting note that moves in the direction of one of the blending or colorful notes.


These are all important things to pay attention to and to listen. It will make you as familiar with the “sound of the notes”, and what they are doing, just as much as you are with the “fingerings/patterns”.


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Advanced Pentatonic Lesson 2


In the diagram below we can see that within the Blues and the Major Pentatonic scales that a Minor chord and a Major chord, respectively, are found.

Again, these are not just formations or fingering but two distinct “sounds”, Minor and Major. Two very strong sounds on their own and they don’t blend when played together very well. But…

With these two sounds we can build one of the foundations of the sound of the Super-Imposed scale…

….the Minor to Major movement.


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Advanced Pentatonic Lesson 3


The “Minor to Major movement” mentioned in the last post is a very defined sound in western-ised music.

Play a G Major chord…now play a G Minor chord that moves directly into the G Major chord. You will here that chord “coming home” to the Major sound.

The MP3 is an example of this idea. This is in a country-type vein, but it shows you how strong the sound is. It’s just a straight Open G chord playing along with the drums, with a second guitar doing the rhythm/lead part presented in the tab.


Audio for Lesson 3



Advanced Pentatonic Lesson 4


In this lesson we are going to look at something I tend to call “simulation” or “variation”.

I’m sure a lot of you have done this when replacing a bend with a slide, or visa-versa, but keeping the notes the same. So, the lick stays in place but the techniques use to do it changes.

The MP3 and tab below is kind of a SRV style idea. It’s based on kind of a shuffle riff. But, it shows the simulation quite well where the same lick can be played in different ways.

In the tab notice the first bend doesn’t really indicate what note the Bb is getting bent to. It’s basically a slight bend that gives the notion that the b3 is getting bent towards the M3 (IOW Bb to B), regardless if it gets all the way to B or not. But, in the part following it we are actually sounding the M3. So, it sounds the same basically and these to ways are simulations or variations of each other.

Just for the record…I used my thumb for the G note on the Low string. With my left hand I also try to mute every string that’s not being played, this way I can “rake” the pick across all of the strings and give it that loose groove sound. This is a technique, the thumb, muting, and raking, used by just about every blues guitarist to get the groove flowing.

Just let the picking hand act as if it’s strumming but playing single-notes as opposed to chords. Then mute the other string that shouldn’t ring out by using your left-hand in a lazy manner. Just left your left hand kind of lay across the strings….Think Lazy.

Although the technique is not the focus here. So, don’t worry so much about the Low G, focus more on the G and D strings, this is where we can see it’s being played out of the Blues scale AND the Major Pentatonic scale…or the Super-Imposed scale. This is the focus for the lesson.


Audio for Lesson 4



Advanced Pentatonic Lesson 5


This lesson will show more variation. It will also show a common “box” pattern found in the Super-Imposed scale.

This is essentially the same lick as Lesson 4 was, except it uses some parallel notes found in the Super-Imposed scale along with our original notes. These parallel notes make up the “box” pattern.

It’s along the line’s of SRV again where he makes the guitar “jingle-jangle” a little bit. It sounds like lead but it also sounds like chords, it sounds “in the pocket”, and sets up a nice groove. It’s sounds more musical then lick-based.


Audio for Lesson 5