Become great at Improvisation – Pt 8 – Pentatonic scales on 1 string

23 Dec

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs, feel free to ask any questions.

The next blog in this Improv series will look at playing the pentatonic scales just on 1 string at a time. This is another great way of learning how to integrate your scales + move across the neck easily.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of this exercise you’ll want to learn how the pentatonic scales are constructed.

The Minor pentatonic scale is built up of a root note (1), Minor 3rd (b3), Perfect 4th (4), Perfect 5th (5) and Minor 7 (b7) intervals

– Minor 3rd interval is 1 1/2 tones in size e.g. A to C

– A Perfect 4th is 2 1/2 tones in size e.g. D to G

– A Perfect 5th is 3 1/2 tones in size e.g. F to C

– A Minor 7th is 5 tones in size e.g. C to Bb

So let’s take A minor pentatonic as an example. The notes would be:

– A, C, D, E + G . So using the 5 shapes of A minor pentatonic, these are the only 5 notes you would be playing.

– An extremely useful exercise would be to play all the available notes of the pentatonic scale on 1 string at a time from the first available note. So if we took the 6th Low E string. You’d start with the open E, then G, A, C and so on.

Here’s all the available notes of the A minor pentatonic on the E string:


The intervallic formula for the major pentatonic is as follows: Root note (1), Major 2nd (2), Major 3rd (3), Perfect 5th (5) and Major 6th (6)

Let’s take the D major pentatonic for example: The notes would be:

D, E, F#, A + B

So you can use the exact same process as above.

So practice this in all keys on all 6 strings , and that will really help you to further your improv skills by getting to know the neck + keys a lot better.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful, you can find other great free info via the Js Music School twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks





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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Improvisation


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