G e L o N

Pentatonic Scales
Reading Tab


Okay, here's some stuff to work on. If I get a little too far out and lose you on any of the jargon, or presume you're familiar with something you're not, drop me a line and I'll clear it up. Hope you find the following useful.

Reading Tablature

Tablature, or Tab as it's often called, is simply a graphic representation of the guitar strings and frets. The tuning at the left of the "staff" shows which strings to play, and the numbers on the strings indicate the frets. Fingering is another issue, and will be explained in the lesson preceding each example.

 

Pentatonic Scales

Pentatonics are extremely versatile and a good preparation for the study of arpeggios, since you normally play two notes per string rather than three or more as with diatonic scales. A lot of people think these scales are too simple and only for the un-hip. Well, all I can say is, listen to B.B. King and see how much he manages to say with a handful of notes, characteristically drawn from pentatonics. Other masters who do amazing things with these scales are Eric Johnson and Steve Morse. Check out some of their solos!

These scales only have 5 notes (penta...Get it?) and the complete range on the neck can be covered in the 5 boxes shown below. The boxes function very much like modes (covered later...) and can be used over different types of chords.

Fingering is pretty straightforward; start with 1 (index) for boxes 1 and 4, start with 2 (middle) for 2, 3 and 5. Box 3 is a little weird in that you either need to shift up a fret to play the notes on the B string, or play 2 with a stretch to 4. Got it?

Box 1

 Box 2

Box 3

Box 4

Box 5

(Minor Pentatonic)

(Major Pentatonic)

E|---------------------3-6-||----------------------6-8-||---------------------------8-10-||---------------------------------10-13-||--------------------------------13-15*|

B|-----------------3-6-----||------------------6-8-----||----------------------8-11-------||--------------------------11-13-------||---------------------------13-15-----*|

G|-------------3-5---------||--------------5-7---------||----------------7-10-------------||-------------------10-12--------------||-------------------12--15------------*|

D|---------3-5-------------||---------5--8-------------||-----------8-10------------------||-------------10-12--------------------||-------------12-15-------------------*|

A|-----3-5-----------------||-----5-8------------------||------8-10-----------------------||-------10-13--------------------------||-------13-15-------------------------*|

E|--3-6---------------------||-6-8----------------------||-8-10----------------------------||-10-13--------------------------------||-13-15------------------------------*|

The above works in g minor, or blues in G, and Bb major (try it with a country shuffle in Bb - move it down a fret to play in A major). Practice the patterns all over the neck and note the keys you are playing in (the first note of box 1 is the tonic (key-note) for minor or blues, and the first note in box 2 is the tonic for major).

There's a lot more comin'! Check back soon.


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