A Pentatonic revelation for me

I can play the pentatonic in all 5 positions easily and switch between all patterns no problem.

However I’ve always struggled starting in any key with any pattern other than pattern 1 based on knowing all the notes on the E strings. So as long as I start on one of the E strings I have no issues.

I also,knno where all the root notes are in each of the 5 patterns.

So what’s the revelation you may ask, well,I’ve never seen this explained anywhere on tinternet before although many of you advanced folks may have. Just thought it may help those having a similar shortfall if such exist.

For minor pentatonic.

So the if we take pattern ( 1-4, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4, 1-4 ) one that most know and love then play the first six notes from root to octave takes the shape 1-4, 1-3, 1-3.

So let’s assume we are in G minor pentatonic so first note on fret 3 of E string and play the whole of pattern 1.

If we now move to starting on the G on the A string at the 10 fret you can play the first six notes of pattern 1 from that from that point. So 1-4, 1-3, 1-3.This is pattern 4.

Move to the D string starting at fret 5 as your starting root note and follow
Pattern 1 from there for the first 6 notes compensating for the b string tuning anomaly so 1-4, 1-3, 2-4. This is pattern 2.

Move to the G string and the usual anomaly occurs. So starting on fret 12 the pattern changes to 1-4, 2-4, 2-4 to cater for the b string tuning. This is pattern 5.

Finally starting with root on the b string at fret 7 you only have 1-4, 1-3 then before running out of strings. This is pattern 3.

I realise the above is a bit wordy but in practice I find it really intuitive to play in any key starting from any pattern as long as you know where the root note is on each string.

I look forward to practising with it having only finding it about an hour ago.

Maybe others may find it of use.

Corrected D string wording thanks to @jacksprat.


I practice along these lines with a few alterations:

The key takeaway here is to learn your fretboard ASAP. From there learn to utilize the minor and major pentatonic scales based on chord shapes. Yeah, you can throw in the major and minor scales as well.

My alterations would be to strum a full bar with a particular groove or pattern (ex: old faithful) with open, bar and triad chords. From there play your scale elements for a bar. Lather, rinse, repeat. The goal is to tie in the primary elements of guitar playing: Rhythm, groove, timing, lead, melody and improvisation. This can be expanded to include chords in a key and any other number of concepts or things. The learning and exploration never stops.


Thanks Clint, I suspect you’re much further down that learning curve than I. I’ll be trying it out in due course to see if it works well for me. Thanks for the video, I’ll check,it out later.

1 Like

Brick by brick my friend. Take whatever chord(s) that you know now and work the pentatonic scale that fits around it. Start with open chords if need be. You will be able to do a lot of damage up to the 5th fret! A “C” note is a “C” note no matter where you play it.

Memorizing pentatonic positions independent of the associated chord(s), and without any other musicality is somewhat limiting and will only carry you so far.

1 Like

Hey Greg,

Aha moments like this are cool, and really help.
If you keep the mindset that the fretboard is just a conveyor belt of ever repeating notes, you’ll find many cool repeating patterns like this absolutely everywhere.

Cheers, Shane

1 Like

So when I have repeating fret board patterns floating in and out of my dreams at night, I’m getting there, right @sclay?

1 Like

If ya dreamin’ about ‘em mate, then you must be puttin’ the work in I’d say .

I really like Josh Skaja’s take on this…basically, it’s all about chords, not scales.

I can play major and pentatonic minor scales, but it has not really helped me figure out and play melodies.

But if I know the chords, I am starting to be able to find the melody or riff that is buried within…usually by ear.

And if you check out the link, take some time and browse some of the other topics on his Substack as well. I find Josh’s content to be highly complementary to Justin’s.

1 Like

Couldnt agree more. Since changing my mindset to having chords as the central framework, rather than the scale, things have started to really kick along.

Not sure where I heard this some time ago, but it struck a ‘chord’ with me.

(Paraphrasing) “Playing rhythm is all about the chords. Playing lead is all about the chords. Its all about the chords”.

Cheers, Shane


I’m afraid that’s not correct. If you play 1-4, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4 starting on the A string you will get the wrong notes on the B string. You need to shift up one fret on the B string.

1 Like

Perhaps read and understand what I wrote, note I said the first six notes from root to octave not the full pattern as per your incorrect interpretation. So no need to be afraid :joy:

OK, well this is what you wrote:

The first six notes would only be 1-4, 1-3, 1-3. So your sentence was a little confusing. I don’t want others to think they can play pattern 1 starting from the A string through to the e string; hence my post.

But yes, for the first six notes you are correct.

This will give you the notes G Bb C D E F#.
E and F# are not in the G minor pentatonic scale.

It’s all cool. One person’s revelation is another person’s complicated process. I suggest always taking your practice down a musical path. Chords = progressions = songs. Scales make up chords which can be deconstructed/utilized in lead, harmony, melody and rhythm playing. Know the chords and you will know the underlying notes (with some practice and discovery)

1 Like

It’s only a revelation if it’s correct. Much better to find out now than after playing it wrong for six months.

1 Like

You are correct, I made a mistake there and didn’t shift for the b string tuning.

This isn’t really for beginners though and I don’t thing anyone would play it wrong for 6 months, I’d suggest they’d play it once and know it was wrong as it sounds terrible.

I should have played them all to double check before posting.

I’ll edit the original post, thanks for pointing it out :+1:


I am still struggling with the scales.
Let’s say Am pentatonic. A C D E G and A.
What I want to know is why you don’t play the second and the sixth?

You can look at this from different perspectives.


Pentatonic scales omit the half-steps from their parent major or minor scale.

The minor pentatonic omits the major 2nd and the minor 6th:

A (natural) minor scale = A B C D E F G
A minor pentatonic scale = A C D E G

The major pentatonic omits the perfect 4th and the major 7th:

A major scale = A B C# D E F# G# A
A major pentatonic scale = A B C# E F#

Why? Half-step intervals can sound a bit dissonant or carry more tension in comparison to the other intervals. They can sound cool, so we can play the full major/minor scale. But we have to be more careful and listen well.

Versatility / Modes

Also, omitting these specific half-steps allows to play the same scale over different modes.

These are the minor modes. Can you see which notes they have in common, and which are unique to that mode?

A aeolian (natural minor) = A B C D E F G
A dorian = A B C D E F# G
A phrygian = A Bb C D E F G

The minor modes have 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 in common. The 2nd and the 6th are altered.

These are the major modes. Can you see which notes they have in common, and which are unique to that mode?

A ionian (major) = A B C# D E F# G#
A lydian = A B C# D# E F# G#
A mixolydian = A B C# D E F# G

The major modes have 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 in common. The 4th and the 7th are altered.

Pentatonic scales are a safe choice because they can be played over different modes. The downside is that you risk sounding a bit generic. To me, the whole point of modes is emphasizing those notes that are unique to that mode. You can’t do that with the pentatonic scale, because they have been removed.


Thank you very much.
That make sense.
I think I have a look at practical music theory again.
There is much more for me to learn.