One of the most frustrating things I remember from my early days of playing guitar was where to begin to learn to play like my heroes. If you pick up any book on rock lead guitar, they will show you lots of scale patterns, but little or nothing on what to do with them. Don’t get me wrong, it really is important to learn your scales. Mastering your basic Pentatonic scales is the first step in the long, long, long, (did I mention it was long) process of taming this six string beast we all love. The aim of this article, however, is to give you insight not only into the patterns themselves, but some really great and universal ways to apply them. But let’s start at the beginning.
The Basic Pentatonic Patterns-
Go through each pattern a number of times to familiarize yourself with the fingerings. On of the first things you can do are play these scales in time to a metronome. Although any rhythm can be used, I find that Eighth Notes and Sixteenth Notes really work best as a starting point. Once you have the shapes under your fingers, give this sequence a try.
Pentatonic Group of Four Sequence-
The idea of a sequence is to play a repeated pattern through a scale shape. Once you get it down on one pattern, move the same idea the rest of the pentatonic shapes. This sequence will really help you to develop left and right hand coordination, picking dexterity, and finger independence. Oh, and it also makes a nifty run in a solo as well. To begin developing speed you will have to do some experimentation. Play each sequence in each pattern to the metronome in order to find out how fast you can cleanly play the sequence. Write this tempo down, as it will be your current max. The next step is to set a goal tempo. Usually a goal tempo 12-14 beats per minute faster than your max is the best and most realistic way to improve your speed. Be sure to start well below your max and work up to your goal tempo incrementally so you can have control at every tempo.
Scott Allen is a passionate, vital guitarist from Sacramento, California (U.S.A.) who describes his style as instrumental hard rock, as documented on his latest release, "What Lies Beyond Words". His guitar of choice is an Ibanez RG Prestige. Allen has played guitar since 1986, and openly affirms his career goal, "Tour internationally, perform clinics for instrument companies, and continue to make quality records."
Next up let’s try some licks to get your phrasing happening. Learning to Rock with Pentatonics pt 2