# Pentatonic scale

I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around the pentatonic scale. I understand that there are 5 shapes on the first 12 frets and then the shapes repeat. If I am playing a C, third fret A string or a C 8th fret of the E string which shape is to be used ? Are the shapes territorial that any root in the first 4 frets uses shape 1 and so on down the neck ? B on the D string shape 4 ? I’m hoping for a lightbulb moment but no luck yet. Sorry if this is to basic of a question

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In the Major Pentatonic scale, you basically skip the 4th and 7th degree. The C Major Pentatonic, for example, would be C D E G A instead of the normal Major scale of C D E F G A B. Note that the F and B are omitted.
In terms of shape, it would be almost the same shape as if you’re playing the major scale.

In the Minor Pentatonic scale, the 2nd and 6th degree are skipped, which means the C Minor Pentatonic would be C Eb F G Bb.

I hope that helps

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Yeah, I’m a little unclear on what you mean by the “five” shapes, @BaltimoreGeezer - the major/minor pentatonic scale is the same shape as the major or minor scale, just omitting two notes for each. So for your example of Cmaj pentatonic, you would just play the C Major scale, omitting the F (same fret as the C, one string up) and the B (one fret below the octave).

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Thanks. How do I know which of the 5 shapes to use ?

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What 5 shapes are you referring to? As @howard pointed out, it’s the same shape as the Major or minor scales, minus the omitted notes.

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Looking around web I see 5 shapes and the caged system mentioned. I imagine I’ll have to try the scales and commiting the the 2 mentioned intervals

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Omitting

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There are several different pentatonic scales - major, minor, etc. The shape depends on which pentatonic scale you want to play.

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Mark talks about the different shapes you can use for the scales, but you still need to understand the structure of the scales. Knowing shapes is good, but you still need to know what notes you’re playing.

You really should take Mark’s “Scale Essentials” course where he goes into depth about each scale (and there are lots of them).

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What he is doing there is starting the pentatonic scale off from different degrees in the scale and going into the next octave. In terms of what you will want to be playing, you should focus on Position 1 (for the major pentatonic).

(The full explanation is it’s a little more complicated than that - he’s exploring the modes of the pentatonic scale. And what you care about in terms of “The Pentatonic Scale” is the one started from Position 1 for the major pentatonic, and position 5 for the minor.)

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If the notes of the C maj pentatonic scale are C D E G A, you can play these notes anywhere on the neck. So if you wanted you could come up with some pattern for playing it that has bizarre extreme shifts across strings and up and down the neck. It would make no sense because it would be hard as hell to play, but it would be technically correct.
So when you learn scales or arpeggios or other patterns, you generally start with the basics, ie a major pentatonic scale with a standard pattern and fingering. Later, down the road, you can learn other ways to play it, like starting it on a different note other then the root, or using different fingerings. This gives you different patterns, probably hundreds or more of combinations. Why bother to do this? More freedom. You learn to play the pentatonic anywhere with any finger. But to start, just get the basics down.

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When I learnt guitar, I remember learning pentatonic minor scales in all positions ( modes I suppose, since each position started on different note of the scale). However the focus was being fluid and walking around the fretboard vertically and horizontally with a mind to the root. It always seemed a backwards way of learning, but if done right can free up the fretboard and let you think in intervals rather than tight scale shapes. That said, it’s a very lead guitar way of thinking I feel.

I seem to remember Josh did a practice video based of Billy sheehans style that did this all down the fretboard, ill have a look for it.

Edit…found it! https://youtu.be/cgle3nd2gOc

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Well a lot of times yes, especially if you are thinking about solos. But putting aside the pentatonic scale and switching to 7th chords (because I’m more familiar with the concepts, I just started the scales course but the theory is the same) I think it can be super useful for bass players. A seventh chord can be played with 3 finger patterns. The 2nd finger pattern lets you stay in the same fret area. The 1st pattern takes you higher up the neck, and the 4th pattern takes you back down. So for bass players we can use the 2nd pattern to hang around the money notes for a while, switch to the 1st to briefly venture smoothly to the upper frets for a little flair. Then 4th pattern to smoothly transition back down to the sweet spot and back to 2nd pattern.

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BTW Baltimore, if you really want to do the deep dive on scales and chord tones, mark at talkingbass.net has his all access pass for his courses open now but it ends really soon. While not ideal for all his courses because you can’t print the written material (don’t try to do the sight reading course on all access) you should have no problem with chord tones and scales which are the most important ones. Note that mark tends to go from the basics to the esoteric so just focus on the basics to start and it will take you a long way.

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There are five shapes working from the root on the E string shape number 1. “A” minor pentatonic index finger on the fifth fret. If you start the same shape four frets back (now your pinky is on the fifth fret) that is your major pentatonic shape number 1 or F# minor pentatonic. For me this shape number 1 is always home base and I work from here. By adding the flat 5 to each of the minor positions it turns into the blues scale. If you add the 2 and 6 you have the dorian and that is as far as I go.

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I completely and passionately disagree with the title of that article, and think that this pattern based approach to a scale is very detrimental to ear training, intuitive fingerboard learning, and musical playing.

The shape is much less important than root recognition, knowing the notes and sounds of your scale, and interval recognition.

I would work on one shape and one shape only. Start with shape one for just one of the scales - pick major or minor, whichever you prefer.

Just play that shape. Make sure you can sing the scale up and down.
Make sure you can play sequences in the scale. (written illustration below)
(I like 2 note sequences, then 3 note, then 4. As much as you can fit into the fingering position, as much as makes sense.

Sing your sequences. Know the notes you’re playing.
If you can sing and hear your way through the scale, if you know what notes you’re playing, when you move to another one of those scale forms as illustrated in that erroneously titled article/video, it will make more sense.
You’ll understand that it is the same notes re-positioned on the fingerboard, and - hopefully - your reference for where the root is, how to play through it and sing through it - will remain strong and you’ll be able to utilize the other forms.

Here’s what I mean by playing sequences with a scale:

2 note sequence with a 5 note (pentatonic scale) scale:

1,2 2,3 3,4 4,5, 5,6

3 note sequence:
1,2,3 2,3,4 3,4,5, 4,5,6 (there’s the octave)

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Thanks, makes sense and sounds less confusing.

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Couldn’t agree more @Gio. Once again, you and I gave the same answer, albeit your’s delivered more succinctly.

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Thanks to everyone for the help. I definitely have some ideas to work with. I am new to the BB forum so I am unsure about the proper etiquette for replying. Again, thanks to all

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