Once you have learnt how to play the 5 shapes of the minor pentatonic scale, the real fun can begin!
Now you can move beyond simply practicing and playing scale shapes up and down. Instead you can start to look at using the minor pentatonic scale in a practical context to solo and improvise.
If you have tried to solo and improvise with the minor pentatonic scale already, then hopefully you have had a lot of fun doing so. Not only this, but I hope you have realised the potential of the minor pentatonic scale for creating some very cool and bluesy sounding licks.
You may also have come up against a few challenges. In my experience – both personally and with the guitarists that I work with – there are 3 challenges that they typically face. And these are as follows:
Most guitarists that are starting out feel comfortable in shapes 1 and 2 of the minor pentatonic scale. They get to grips with these shapes quickly and are able to navigate around them fairly quickly and easily.
Typically though players struggle to break out of these areas of the fretboard. They find it difficult to play so freely in shapes 3, 4 and 5 of the scale. And so they get stuck in certain shapes and areas of the fretboard. To begin with this isn’t such a problem. However over time this can lead to frustration and can make their solos sound quite stale and repetitive.
Hit and miss licks
One of the biggest challenges for players starting out is that their improvisations are often a little ‘hit and miss’. Sometimes they play licks and phrases that sound amazing, and at other times they play licks that just don’t sound right.
Of course, this is just part of the learning journey. And even the most experienced guitarists play licks at times which aren’t so effective. The challenge for guitarists starting out however, is that they typically can’t work out why a lick sounds good or bad.
This means that they then struggle to recreate the licks they are happy with, and avoid those that don’t work so well. And as you can imagine, this makes soloing and improvising comfortably a challenge. It makes players feel on edge as they are not sure if they are going to hit the right note or not. It also makes it challenging for guitarists to develop a repertoire of licks with which they are happy.
Lastly and significantly, a lot of players struggle at first to connect the shapes of the minor pentatonic scale. This means that they almost have to treat each shape independently. And this can result in quite disjointed and broken up sounding solos. For even if guitarists are able to play a series of killer licks in shape 1, and then do the same in shape 3 – the transition between the 2 shapes will sound a little broken up if they have no mechanism for joining them up.
During this course we will look in depth at the first two challenges listed here. By the end of this course you will:
- Be able to create a range of interesting licks and ideas in all 5 shapes of the minor pentatonic scale
- Understand why certain licks and ideas sound good, and why others don’t work so well
- Have a framework you can use when creating licks to ensure you are targeting the ‘right’ notes, and avoiding those which don’t work so well
As noted in the video, the challenge of connecting the shapes of the minor pentatonic scale in a smooth and musical way is significant. And as such, it is one that I cover in much more detail in the course ‘How To Connect The 5 Pentatonic Shapes‘.
If you are new to this material, then stick around here and work through this course before heading over there. This will help you to start creating cool licks and ideas which you can then use when you are connecting the pentatonic shapes up. However if you are predominantly looking for ways to connect the shapes, then that course will cover all of the details you need.
For now though, let’s dig into the first two challenges noted above in more detail. Here is how you get started soloing with the minor pentatonic scale: