Every improvising guitar player, no matter what style, wants the same thing: To play a great solo time and time again. An important part of making that happen is having a solid neck vision. In this lesson, I give you a thorough roadmap of everyone’s go-to scale formula – the pentatonic scale – to play up and down the neck helping to develop that vision.
At the same time, you’ll be working on your alternate picking and timing. What you see in the Guitar Pro file is a culmination of Workouts from my TrueFire Online Classroom, Guitar Gym. Check this out!
The scales will be communicated in “fingering groups” numbered 1-5. They will travel up and down the neck in what I call a “helix pattern” where you play alternating ascending and descending directions without repeating any notes. Starting in the 2nd position in what could be seen as either F# minor or A major pentatonic you’ll play as far as a 22 fret neck allows before shifting to the next fingering group in Am or C and descending to the open position. You’ll make your way up and down the neck once more this time in Cm or Eb and finally in Ebm or Gb. In other words, you’re shifting through four key centers separated by minor thirds. The shifts will always be in a local vertical area and are designed to feel natural.
The underlying purpose of this Workout is twofold. First, the pentatonic scale is an everlasting musical giving tree for myriad applications. It’s without question a must-know melodic device and should be completely mastered. That said all five fingerings should also be played in a usable fashion not constricted by so-called “proper” fingering conventions. I detail what I believe are real-world, functional two-note-per-string fingering approaches to each of the five scales in the video and Guitar Pro file.
As for the second purpose – it’s simple. I’m trying to keep the Workout just that: Simple as well as effective. Instead of getting bogged down with choosing a naming convention for the five fingerings from the handful of possibilities I’m cutting out the theoretical debate and having you play. For instance, as with any scale formula, the pentatonic scale breeds a modal system albeit one that is not widely recognized or studied. Probably because three of the five modes are as follows: 9sus4 pentatonic, m7#5(4) pentatonic, and 6/9sus4 pentatonic. See what I mean?
I’ve used this Workout for over three years in Guitar Gym and have seen incredible results in my students’ neck vision and playing overall. Their goal is to master the fingerings, get the sequence played in 1/8 notes at 100bpm, and then work up to 1/16th notes again at 100bpm. It’s an epic journey players from across the globe have completed. I hope you’ll make the commitment and achieve this goal, too! Thanks!
– Chris Buono
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