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Pentatonic Scales, Sequencing, and Lick Ideas (Guitar Lesson)

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Chris Liepe

Pentatonic Scales, Sequencing, and Lick Ideas

Chris introduces the pentatonic scales as well as some of their basic applications.

Taught by Chris Liepe in Rock Guitar with Chris Liepe seriesLength: 19:35Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
This lesson can be considered to be a sort of introduction to pentatonic patterns and their basic uses. Pentatonics are such a huge part of guitar playing, and there are a ton of ways to apply them. In this lesson, we're going to get started by making sure you are comfortable with the 5 basic positions. Then, you will learn some pentatonic licks that utilize sequences.

Positioning and Fingering:
All of these scale positions exist primarily in a four fret grouping, so fingering should be fairly obvious. However, there are no concrete rules in terms of how a pentatonic scale should be fingered. After you have familiarized yourself with the scale position(s), use fingerings that make ergonomic sense. If your scale position deals with frets 2-5, but the first note in the sequence is played at fret 3, then the first finger will play all notes at the 2nd fret. The second finger plays notes at the 3rd fret. The third finger plays notes at the 4th fret and so on.

This rule is not a hard and fast 'must', and you'll see in my video demonstrations that I don't always stick to the rule. However, it is a great starting point. When it comes to practicing the provided sequence, use this fingering suggestion as a starting point. Keep in mind though that the sequence is really a great place to experiment with different fingerings.

Picking and Legato:
In the tab, you'll notice that I initially suggest that you pick every note unless otherwise indicated. Again, this is a great starting point, but you should EXPERIMENT! How does it sound and feel when picking only occurs during string transitions (only pick when you switch strings)? What happens if you try to play an entire descending position or sequence by only picking the first note and trying to handle the rest of the line completely with pull-offs?

One of the best ways to become musical with pentatonic scales is to take a part of one of the patterns and create a repetitive phrase out of it. Use a combination of legato, picked notes, bends etc. It's great to work with maybe two or three strings at a time when starting to come up with your own fragments. The lick I have included in the supplemental content section is a perfect demonstration of how to take part of a scale position and add some style to it. Learn this one, but don't stop! Take this lick as an example, and create your own ideas. Be sure to practice these ideas over backing tracks in different keys! Have fun! Leave questions!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

Brandon30Brandon30 replied

I just think it would be great if instead of just showing a tab exercise that there would be a fingerboard view printout showing the notes in each position and showing how shifting the positions affects the keys. It is hard to understand simply by just watching a few brief examples/explanations.

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied

I often wonder if i should shift or not shift when fingering scales. I end up doing it both ways!

klayton2000klayton2000 replied

Enter your comment here.

klayton2000klayton2000 replied

Very professional way to teach these lessons, thank you I've improving my playing a lot by taking this series.

photonphoton replied

Chris, why don't you supply a fingerboard view showing the different positions you are going over. Its great to get used to the sheet music, but for general pattern shape, its easier for me when first learning, to see the structure on the fingerboard as well. Great Job.........

jdeandressijdeandressi replied

Are these the Minor pentatonic scale positions and if so is there more than 5 or are these all the positions? Great lesson btw

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

these can be major or minor depending on which note you call the root. If the root is "C" then you're playing Major pent, if the root is "A" then you're playing minor. Make sense?

GuitarLibManGuitarLibMan replied

Chris, great lesson and the comments cleared things up.

mathenmrmathenmr replied

Are these the Major Pentatonic Scales or the Minor Pentatonic Scales? Or are they really the same thing? I'm confused.

creeglescreegles replied

Hey Chris. On the Jimmy Page sequencing you don't show which notes should be hammered, pulled and picked. And you play it too fast in the video to be easily figured out.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

Sorry about that. One of the reasons I don't really cover this is because you can kind of make it what you want to. You can pick the whole thing to get a very percussive sound, or you can use hammerons/pulloffs to make it more smooth. Experiment and see what works best for your playing and phrasing. As a general rule, if I'm going for a smoother sound I just only pick when changing strings. This makes it rhythmically sound but I can play it smoother and faster over particular runs.

rarsenrarsen replied

Hi Chris, Are these Penatonic scales, C major with relative Am scales, are those actually the 5 positions of the Am scale? Also, if I want to solo and mix minor with major, do I use Am and C scales or do I use Am and A major scales? Thanks for your help! Ron

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

Hey Ron, you can use these positions over Am AND C Major. If you want to solo over A Major you'd need to move each position so that you were playing over F#m or A Major. To figure out where to move them, simply figure out where all the "C's" are in the original position placements and move them so that all the "C's" are A's. Hope this helps!

iemoriemor replied

Thanks Chris , yes its becoming more clear

iemoriemor replied

Hi Chris , love your lessons but im a little confused about the scale position . I thought where you start the scale determines what key you are in like the third fret sixth string makes it a G scale but in the video you say its a C scale , fifth fret sixth string your in the key of A , and so on , could you please clear this up for me thanks , Jim

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

sure jim- where you start the scale actually has nothing to do with the key, but rather what notes you are playing and what chord or progression you are playing under them. For example: If I'm playing notes C, D, E, G and A over a C Major Chord, I'm playing a C Major Pentatonic Scale, even if I start with the G note. The scale positions shared in this lesson can be defined as a Major Pentatonic Scale if played over a C Major Chord, or a Minor Pentatonic if played over an A minor because C Major and A minor share the same key signature. Does this make sense?

Rock Guitar with Chris Liepe

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Instrumental Rock carries with it many creative aspects both in writing and playing. By the end of this series, Chris will have covered almost everything you will need to know to create and play your very own melodic instrumental rock piece, with emotion!

Rock Essentials IntroductionLesson 1

Rock Essentials Introduction

Chris Liepe introduces his Phase 2 Rock Essentials lesson series. By highlighting specific instrumental rock styles and techniques, Chris will help you become a more melodically creative player.

Length: 3:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
3 on a String ScalesLesson 2

3 on a String Scales

Chris Liepe starts off his Rock Essentials series with a lesson on 3 on a string scales. Utilizing 3, 4, and 6 note sequencing, Chris begins to dive into instrumental rock style phrasing and provides several...

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 3.5 FREE
Pentatonic Scales, Sequencing, and Lick IdeasLesson 3

Pentatonic Scales, Sequencing, and Lick Ideas

Chris introduces the pentatonic scales as well as some of their basic applications.

Length: 19:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chord NumberingLesson 4

Chord Numbering

Chris Liepe takes some time to explain chord numbering. Understanding how chords are built will only help in your overall knowledge of the guitar.

Length: 16:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The CAGED SystemLesson 5

The CAGED System

Chris breaks down the CAGED system and its chord chemistry. He covers both major and minor chord forms.

Length: 35:06 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Sweep PickingLesson 6

Sweep Picking

Chris digs into the sweep picking technique. He uses the C, A, and E forms introduced in the previous lesson to help with finger synchronization.

Length: 27:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Introduction to ModesLesson 7

Introduction to Modes

Chris moves on to the subject of modes. He explains where modes come from, how they sound, and how they are used.

Length: 30:04 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Modal Pentatonic ScalesLesson 8

Modal Pentatonic Scales

This lesson demonstrates how to modify the old trusty 5th fret A minor pentatonic position to make it sound modal.

Length: 10:30 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Modal Chord ProgressionsLesson 9

Modal Chord Progressions

How do you know which mode to use? There are giveaways with every chord progression, and Chris covers them in this lesson.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Complete Major / Minor Scale Using Penatonic ScalesLesson 10

Complete Major / Minor Scale Using Penatonic Scales

Chris demonstrates how to complete the major and minor scale by using pentatonic positions based on the roots of the I, IV, and V chords.

Length: 14:52 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Melodic DevelopmentLesson 11

Melodic Development

Chris Liepe utilizes everything he has taught in the series so far to demonstrate how to create catchy lead lines over a backing track.

Length: 15:30 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Implied TonalitiesLesson 12

Implied Tonalities

Chris Liepe delves into the world of implied tonalities. This lesson details how a single arpeggio can be implied over various chordal sounds.

Length: 25:40 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Series Introduction Solo Lesson (Composed Soloing)Lesson 13

Series Introduction Solo Lesson (Composed Soloing)

Chris teaches the solo that was used in the introduction lesson for this series. He uses the solo as an example of how to effectively compose your own solos.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
2 Hand TappingLesson 14

2 Hand Tapping

It's time to give the right hand hand some work with two hand tapping on the guitar neck.

Length: 31:26 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Thoughts on PracticeLesson 15

Thoughts on Practice

With so much material out there, what should you focus on? How much time do you spend on a certain topic? How do you progress? How do you measure progress? Chris covers all of these topics in this lesson.

Length: 17:16 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Get to Know Chris LiepeLesson 16

Get to Know Chris Liepe

Chris Liepe offers up some insight into his past. Hopefully this lesson will help you further your own goals as a guitarist.

Length: 11:42 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chris Liepe

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud instructors.

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