Guitar solos are just scales…right? No, guitar scales are the alphabet from which different lead guitar licks and melody ideas come from. Just playing a scale up and down on the guitar will not sound much like music. But if you start to play scale notes in different melodic sequences, then they become ideas you can use in your lead guitar solos.
In this video guitar lesson I’m going to show you a very common guitar scale pattern out of a minor pentatonic scale. One that’s used all the time in rock guitar solos.
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(Video Guitar Lesson)
The C Minor Pentatonic Scale
The examples in this guitar lesson all come out of a basic C minor Pentatonic scale.
Guitar Scale Patterns
What is a guitar scale pattern? I want you to take a trip back to 1st grade for a moment. Remember number sequences?
123,234,345… what comes next?
That’s the whole idea of scale patterns. You’re going to give each note in a scale a number, and then just play the notes of the scale in the order of different number sequences.
So for example, here are the first 6 notes of a c minor pentatonic scale. I’m giving each note in the scale a number. If you are a music theory nut I’m not talking about the numbers used for theory. Just plain old numbers.
And if you were to apply that number sequence from my 1st grade example, you would play the scale like this. That’s a scale pattern.
The Rock Guitar Scale Pattern
The minor pentatonic scale pattern that I demonstrate in the video guitar lesson is actually the opposite of my 1st grade example. The numbers are going backwards.
The example below does not actually start on 6. In fact I don’t really want you thinking about numbers at all. That was just for demonstration purposes and the best way to explain guitar scale patterns.
I just want you to think about the idea of descending 3 notes in the scale at a time. Below is the example from the video guitar lesson using 8th note triplets. Any time there are 2 notes on the same string you’re going to pull-off from the highest to the lowest note on the string.
The left hand fingers that I use are indicated below the tablature. You will notice in the video that I’m using a very common rock lead guitar hand position where my thumb is over the neck. So I’m ready for string bends that are very common in rock solos.
Here is the same minor pentatonic scale pattern only using 16th notes. Because the pattern is made up of groups of 3 notes, and 16th notes are groups of 4…the whole pattern gets displaced. It makes for a cool rhythmic sound in your guitar solos.
Jimmy Page Jammin’ on the Scale Pattern
Listen to Jimmy Page play this scale pattern in one of the solos in “Good Times Bad Times” from Led Zeppelin.
Guitar Lesson Downloads
Below is a PDF file you can print out for this lesson as well as the jam track I used in the video guitar lesson. The mp3 jam track is in the key of C Minor. Use it to practice the examples above with. Then try and mix fragments of the scale pattern in with other minor pentatonic licks you might know. Make this part of your lead guitar vocabulary.
(Right Click the links below and choose “Save As” or “Save Target As” or “Download Linked Files As”)
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