In this lesson we will be sequencing the major pentatonic scale in groups of three notes. We will be in the key of A major so we will be using the major pentatonic scale shape that is based off of the 5th fret of the 6th string starting with your second finger. If you don’t know this scale shape yet this is a great opportunity for you to learn it. Just take some time to get familiar with the scale diagram that we have included for you. Scale sequences like this are a great way to develop your phrasing while keeping your hands in shape. We have given you two versions of this scale sequence, an alternate picking version and a legato version. Once you learn this sequence try applying it to all of the other pentatonic scales that you already know.
For the alternate picking version of this sequence start on the lowest note of the scale, the fifth fret of the 6th string, with your 2nd finger and play the first three notes of the scale starting with a downstroke. Now start on the 2nd note of the scale, 7th fret of the 6th string, with your 4th finger and play the next three notes starting with an upstroke. Continue this pattern until you reach the highest note in this scale shape. You will probably notice that every time you start a new sequence of three notes you alternate starting with a down or upstroke. This is because there are an odd number of notes in the sequence. This may feel really strange to your picking hand at first but if you start out slowly you will get used to it. Once you make it to the top note of the scale try working your way back down. If you have any question about the picking just check out the picking indicators at the bottom of each line of TAB.
The legato version of this sequence feels quite different from the alternate picking version. Go back to the first note of the scale with your 2nd finger and pick that note with a downstroke and then hammer on to the 7th fret of the 6th string with your 4th finger. Hop over to the 4th fret of the 5th string with your 1st finger using an upstroke. That is your first group of three notes. Now start on the second note of the scale on the 7th fret of the 6th string with your 4th finger using a downstroke. Hop over to the 4th fret of the 5th string with your 1st finger with an upstroke and then hammer on to the 4th fret of the 5th string with your 2nd finger. That is the second group of three notes. Continue this pattern all of the way up and back down the scale. Notice that even though we are playing with a more legato feel we are still keeping the alternate picking going. Pay particular attention to the picking indicators on this exercise especially when coming back down the scale. Coming back down can feel quite different than going up. Just take your time and try to be aware of what the TAB is telling you.
Have fun with this sequence. Use it in your solos or as part of your weekly exercise routine. There are a lot of great players out there that use this kind of idea in their playing all of the time. Check out the song “Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnson to hear what this kind of playing sounds like at light speed.