What happens when you memorize all the pentatonic scales on the guitar? From my experience, as soon as your fingers understand where to move on the fretboard then creativity becomes more assessable.Because you understand where to play in a given key and how to move within the key. Here is a few tips and tricks for mastering pentatonic scales on the guitar.

Learn One Pentatonic Scale At A Time

Try focusing on 1 scale during your practice sessions. Get to know each note on the fretboard. If you are practicing minor pentatonic scales, play each scale in every key with a metronome. You can even use the circle of fifths and play each major pentatonic scale. Once you have learned a scale type, then move to major pentatonic scales. Here is a list of scale types to learn:

  • Major Pentatonic
  • Minor Pentatonic
  • Mode II
  • Mode III
  • Mode V

Play The Blues

One of the best ways to learn scales on the guitar is to practice jamming over blues tracks and Blues records. Playing with B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Howlin’ Wolf will help develop your ears as a guitarist. Try and copy what these Blues greats are doing on the guitar. Listening to classic records will help you discover how to use pentatonic scales on the guitar. I still use this method to practice my scales. Just the other day I put a B.B. King record on called “Spotlight On Lucille”. I typically play with the record and “talk” back and forth on the guitar as I practice my scales.

Record Yourself Playing Pentatonic Scales

Create a recording journal of your practice sessions. Most smart phones these days have a recording app. Use these types of amps to capture your practice sessions. As time goes on, you will be able to hear your progress. If you are brave enough share your recordings with other guitarists to gather feedback on your playing. When Eddie Van Halen was younger, he would play at Blues jam sessions and get his ass kicked by better players. This is how you improve your skills as a guitarist. Find people who are better than you and learn from them.

Learn The Modes of the Pentatonic Scales

Understanding the layout of each key and the placement of the modes is a critical step for mastering the pentatonic scales in every key. Modes are pentatonic scales but, your starting note has shifted to a different spot on the fretboard. If you were playing in the key of C, then you could play a scale on the 2nd degree of the key. This would allow you to start a pentatonic scale on D (mode II). Playing modes will help you identify scale locations on the fretboard. If you can understand the key, you can map out where the modes are played.

We have a guitar learning tool specifically for pentatonic scales that will help you understand all the modes. Check it out!

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