Bent Out of Shape: Back to Basics with Pentatonics, Part 5 — Building Ascending and Descending Patterns

I've been rediscovering pentatonic patterns lately.

While searching for new licks and scales to incorporate into my playing, I occasionally like to re-examine pentatonic shapes. In this lesson, I want to give you some tips on how to construct your own ascending and descending pentatonic patterns.

To begin, we must make a pattern of notes from the pentatonic scale.

I suggest you start with choosing something simple like a four- or six-note pattern. Something appropriate would be the six-note pattern demonstrated in Example 1. Because it is six notes, I play it as a triplet or rather a sextuplet (six notes in one beat) and use strict alternate picking. Then I play the pattern across three octaves to get a feel for playing the pattern in different areas of the fretboard.

Once you've mastered a pattern in a single position, you can use the pattern to ascend and decent through the scale in different ways. This will open up the fretboard for you and give you many options when soloing.

To demonstrate, I use my pattern to ascend and descend through D minor pentatonic in 8th position or shape 5. I play the pattern once on each string and ascend through the entire scale. Then when I reach the high E, I reverse the pattern and descend. This could be used in a solo very effectively and played in any position or any key. It also makes a good exercise for alternate picking and speed building.

This final example uses my simple pattern to make an ascending lick that moves diagonally across the fretboard. This is a much more "musical" application for the pattern and something I would be likely to use in my own solos. If you analyze the lick, you will see it's actually the same sequence played across three octaves.

As with all my lessons, this is meant to be a starting point for you to experiment with creating your own ideas. Make up a pattern and apply it to the whole scale all over the neck. See you next week, cheers!

Will Wallner is a guitarist from England who now lives in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and toured Japan, the US and Canada in 2012. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.

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