In this guitar lesson we are going to take a look at how to sequence a pentatonic scale in groups of four notes. This is something that you will hear in solos over and over again and it is a great way to really keep your hands in shape. We will be using an A minor pentatonic scale in this lesson but don’t limit this sequence to just this scale. Once you get this sequence down try using it on any scale or arpeggio that you already know. There will be two different versions of this scale sequence: one that uses strict alternate picking and one that uses a more legato approach. Have fun and check out the TAB that we have provided for you if you have any questions.
Let’s go over the alternate picking version of this sequence first. Start on first note of the scale on the 5th fret of the 6th string with your first finger. Pick through the first four notes of the scale. You can start with an up or downstroke. Choose whichever one is more comfortable for you and make sure to use alternate picking after the initial pick stroke. Now start on the 2nd note of the scale and play the next four notes. Repeat this patter all the way up the scale and back down. Playing this sequence makes you have to jump back and forth between strings a lot so it is a great picking exercise for your right hand. If you start of with a downstroke you will start every group of four notes with a downstroke. If you start with an upstroke you will start every group of four notes with an upstroke. This is because there are an even number of notes in the sequence.
Start over on the sequence but try taking a more legato approach this time. Pick the first note of the scale on the 5th fret of the 6th string with your 1st finger and then hammer on to the second note on the 8th fret of the 6th string with your 4th finger. Now hop over to the 5th string and pick the first note on that string on the 5th fret with your 1st finger and hammer on to the 7th fret with your 3rd finger. That is the pattern for the first four notes. Go back to the 8th fret of the 6th string with your 4th finger and pick that note. Pick the 5th fret of the 5th string and then hammer on to the 7th fret of the 5th string. Finish off the second group of four notes by picking the 5th fret of the 4th string. Continue this pattern all the way up the scale and back down. Any time you change strings you should use a pick stroke. If you have any questions on the picking for this version just check out the picking indicators at the bottom of the TAB.
Make sure to keep your alternate picking going even though you are using a more legato approach to this scale. With this particular shape you have to play a lot of notes with your 1st finger on strings that are next to each other. To play sequences like this smoothly and efficiently you will have to kind of roll your 1st finger from string to string at times. Keep an eye out for that.
Have fun with this sequence. Try using it in your solos and maybe as a weekly exercise. It may take you a while to get this coordination down but that is pretty normal. Take it slowly and soon you will have a great new weapon to use in your playing.