** As featured in issue 32 **
Objective: In this country guitar lesson you’ll learn how to create longer guitar solo lines and get more mileage out of the major pentatonic scales by learning to play them in three octaves. Learn to play horizontally across the guitar fret board. Learn how to play Country Rock guitar solos using the three octave major pentatonic scale.
Most players learn the patterns for the major pentatonic scale in the C,A,G,E,D system. This system of grouping scales in a logical way helps one to learn the fret board. The C,A,G,E,D system teaches the scale patterns vertically on the fingerboard. Although this is a great method for learning scales it can be restrictive because each pattern limits you to one small area of the fretboard at a time. A great way to learn to play longer lines is to be able to link the patterns together horizontally. You can easily play three octaves by linking the patterns together.
Let’s see how this works:
First, we’ll learn to play the G major pentatonic scale horizontally in each octave then link them together. This example will be the basis of this lesson.
The lowest octave begins in the 3rd position with a G note on the 3rd fret of the sixth string using your first finger. Next, play an A note on the sixth string using your third finger and slide up a whole step to B. Move to the fifth string and play D and E using fingers 1 and 2 respectively. The G on the forth string 5th fret is the last note of this octave
The second octave starts where we left off. Start with the G note on the fourth string 5th fret using your first finger. Then slide from A to B also on the fourth string. Play D and E on the third string using fingers 1 and 3 respectively. The third octave requires a position shift to the 8th position. It begins with G on the second string. Use your first finger because this will put you in the position to move up the fret board. Slide from A to B on the second string using your third finger. Slide then from D to E on the first string with your first finger. The last note is a G on the 15th fret.
To play it descending you simply work backwards and retrace your fingerings.
To play the first octave descending starts with G on the 15th fret of the first string. Pull off to E and then slide your first finger down to D also on the first string. Next, with your third finger, slide from B to A on the second string. End the octave on a second string G with your first finger (also on the second string).
To play the second octave descending, start with a position shift from the 8th position to the seventh position. Now on the third string, play E and D. Next play B to A on the fourth string using a third finger slide. Finish with a G on the fourth string.
To play the third octave descending start by playing E to D on the fifth string.
Then move to the sixth string and slide from B to A. Finish with a G on the sixth string.
Practice this scale both ascending and descending. It will sound reminiscent of the Allman Brothers’ songs Blues Sky and Ramblin Man.
Now that you have learned the three octave pentatonic scale, let’s put it to use.
This is a classic Country lick played back to back in three octaves. Use alternate picking!!
The first octave of the lick is on strings 6, 5 and 4. Play the low G, move immediately up a whole step and play a triplet chromatically from A to B. Move to the fifth string and play D to E and back to D.
The second octave is a repeat of the first but on a different set of strings. Start with G on the fourth string, move immediately up a whole step and play a triplet chromatically from A to B, then on to D, E, and D on the third string.
The third octave is now a repeat of octaves 1 and 2 and begins on G on the third string. Be sure to shift to the 8th position here and play the beginning G note with your first finger. Repeating the lick in this upper octave is identical to playing it in the first two octaves. The last note however is a G at the 15th fret of the first string. Listen to and watch the video example for proper rhythmic phrasing. This example works primarily as an ascending line to get you to a higher register. Use the position shift to enable you to move to a higher register. This will help you to build excitement in your solos.
This lick is a classic descending Country lick that falls under the category of Call and Response. This is a Blues term. In this case the lick is in two parts, one musically answering the other.
The “call” part of the phrase starts on a high G at the 15th fret of the first string. Pull off to the E and then with your first finger slide to the D. The remainder of the lick weaves between the notes of the descending scale.
Watch the video for detailed fingerings. Have fun!