4 April 2008

Blues Licks Around Major Penta I Position

The first position of the major pentatonic scale sits nicely next to the A form bar chord. This lets you create nice blues licks playing both the chord and scale notes around it. This post is going to show you this position and how to use it to create blues licks.

Major Pentatonic
The major pentatonic first position has the same shape on the guitar fretboard as the minor pentatonic. You just play that shape four frets lower on the fretboard for the major pentatonic. The diagram below shows the scale position and identifies the positions of the notes.


|-6-|---|---|-R-|---|
|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|
|-R-|---|-2-|---|---|
|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|
|-2-|---|-3-|---|---|
|-6-|---|---|-R-|---|

A Form Bar Chord
Now that you know where to find the major pentatonic let's take a look at the major chord. The A bar chord form with its root on the 5th string starts two frets below the major pentatonic scale of the chord.
  |-5-|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|---|
|---|---|-R-|---|---|
|---|---|-5-|---|---|
|-R-|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|
Let's look at the D chord and scale as an example to ensure this is clear. I've chosen a D chord to start with because it's easier to bar the chord's notes at a higher fret. The D bar chord has its root on the 5th string, 5th fret. The D major pentatonic starts two frets higher at the 7th fret. The figure below shows the notes of the chord and the scale position on the guitar fretboard.

5th 7th
fret fret

|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|-R-|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|
|---|---|-R-|---|-2-|---|---|
|---|---|-5-|---|-6-|---|---|
|-R-|---|-2-|---|-3-|---|---|
|---|---|-6-|---|---|-R-|---|

D chord | Maj pentatonic 1st position

See how the 3, R and 5 notes of the D Chord on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings at the 7th fret overlap the major pentatonic scale? These three notes make a chord fragment that you'll use as the base of your licks. Bar these three notes with your index finger, you can then add other notes from the scale position around them to play your licks.

Here are a few examples showing you how to start using the position.

Example 1, Minor/Major 3rd

          D                   D  
4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4
e-------|------------------------|---------------------
B--6s-7-|-7--7--------------7----|-------------7-------
G-------|-7-----9p-7--------7----|-------------7-------
D-------|-7-----------9p-7--7----|-------7--9--7-------
A-------|------------------------|-8--9----------------
E-------|------------------------|---------------------

Example 2, Shuffle Lick
Here's an example using a shuffle style lick. You can build new licks from it by playing different versions of the 5th, 6th, 7th note pattern on the 4th string.

          D                        D
4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
e-------|------------------------|------------------------|
B-------|-7--7-------------------|-7--7--------------7~~--|
G-------|-7--7--7--7--7--7-------|-7--7--7--7--7--7--7~~--|
D-------|-7--7--9--9--10-10------|-7--7--9--9--10-9--7~~--|
A--8--9-|-------------------8--9-|------------------------|
E-------|------------------------|------------------------|

Example 3, Double Stops
This D double stop lick shows you another example built on this position.

You might have trouble barring just the three notes on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings at first. If you do then just bar the strings as best you can and be careful not to play the unwanted strings with you pick.

That wraps up the lesson, over to you now to practice and invent some licks of your own. I'd be happy to hear your questions or suggestions on this lesson, just leave a comment using the link below.

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