Guitar World Year in Review: The Top 10 Guitar Lessons of 2013
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Steve Stine, highly sought-after guitar educator, teaches live group and private classes at LessonFace.com.
One key to becoming a more versatile blues soloist is learning to combine the minor pentatonic and major pentatonic scales to create guitar lines that go beyond the minor pentatonic scale.
As a prerequisite to this lesson, you should have a basic understanding of the finger positionings for the minor pentatonic and major pentatonic scales, particularly the first and second positions of both scales.
Stepping back, I should note that learning to play within both of these scales at the same time opened new doors for me as a guitar player.
Before combining them, I remember first learning to solo over the standard 1-4-5 blues progression, and my teacher at the time gave me a quick trick for alternating between the minor and major pentatonic solos: Use the minor pentatonic for the sections on the “1” and the major pentatonic for the sections on the “4," and alternate back in forth in this manner in the way that sounded best.
While this approach can work to give you a more varied sound beyond merely the minor pentatonic scale, this trick is by no means a hard and fast rule, and moving beyond it to learn to combine both scales makes you a more versatile player.
A quick point of reference to understand about these scales is that, in respect to physical finger positioning, they are identical, with one scale simply falling three frets below the other on the fretboard. That is to say, in any given key: (i) the finger position for the major pentatonic scale falls three frets down from the minor pentatonic scale, and (ii) the root note is the same for both scales.
So, for example, let’s focus on the key of A. The A on the fifth fret of the first string is the root note of both the A minor pentatonic and A major pentatonic scales. This means that, in the A minor pentatonic scale’s first position, the A on the fifth fret of the first string is played with your index finger.
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