The easiest way to learn any scale across the entire fretboard is to
break it up into patterns built around each degree of that scale,
known as scale positions.
In other words, each note/degree of the scale marks the first note of a
new pattern, and once you've learned the patterns at each degree
you can link them together to create one large scale pattern.
Now, as there are both minor and major pentatonic scales,
we're going to cover both in this lesson. First, minor pentatonic...
Minor pentatonic scale patterns - the 5 positions
As we learned in the minor pentatonic scale lesson,
scale has just 5
tones - 1
is our root note, and wherever that note lies is the key of the scale.
So if the 1st note was G,
the scale would be built on that note and it would become G minor
Remember, although we're going to build a large G minor
pentatonic scale below, the final pattern will be movable, meaning
can change its key simply by moving the root note to a new position.
The rest of the scale is relative
to that root note position and moves
with it accordingly.
As we're in G
for this example, let's first layout the scale's intervals
across the low E string. These positions will become our marker points
for building 5 patterns, one on each degree...
When learning scales, learn how their intervals
appear across single
strings like above.
So, let's start with the first position, building a box pattern you
should already be familiar with...
Then to the 2nd position of minor pentatonic, built on its minor 3rd
degree. Take note of where the root notes
lie as these are your reference points for finding the right key no
matter where you might be on the neck...
The 3rd position...
The 4th position...
And finally the 5th position build on its b7 tone...
I've also marked it at the 1st
fret because the 13th fret is of
course the octave position of the 1st fret. This means that the D and G
strings would be played open in this 1st fret position.
And then we're back to the 1st/root pattern at its octave. We can now
merge these boxed degree patterns into one large G minor pentatonic
Remember, once we get to the octave, the pattern repeats with the same
5 pentatonic scale positions mapped out. So it doesn't
matter what key you're in or where you are on the fretboard - the 5th
pattern will always follow the 4th and precede the 7th. The 3rd pattern
will always follow the 2nd and precede the 4th etc.
you're confident with connecting these patterns together,
then work on using more of the fretboard to create
pentatonic scale patterns
So, using exactly the same technique as above, let's build up a large
pentatonic scale pattern. This time I'm using a root
The intervals for this scale are: 1
Again, start with laying out the intervals of the scale across the low
Now let's build the boxed patterns at each degree. Starting with the
1st position which we already know...
And finally the 5th degree which is built on the major 6th tone of
Below is what we've created...
It really is as simple as that. Obviously, you'll have to spend time
memorising these visual patterns, so here are some tips for seeing the
"big pentatonic picture":
Learn two consecutive patterns at a time and build
phrases that move
inbetween them. Then try moving between 3 patterns. Then 4, etc.
Once you're confident with moving between all 5 patterns,
single out 3 specific intervals (e.g. 1, 3, 5) and move between them
right across the large pattern. Test yourself.
Apply the large scale pattern in sharp (#) and
flat (b) keys (e.g. F#,
Bb, C# etc.). This will help you really engrain that pattern into your
Apply the pentatonic scale patterns beyond
Be aware that learning scales across the entire fretboard like this
will take time, but I cannot stress enough how rewarding this knowledge
will be once you crack it.