Penta-what?!

Before we move on to the next block, I want to stop and talk about pentatonic scales for a second. I touched on them last time, telling you which blocks are used to play them. I’ll get to that, but first: What in the world does “pentatonic” mean?! Let’s break it down. “Penta-” means “five” – like, say, a pentagon. Or perhaps The Pentagon, if you prefer. SO: “Penta-” is “five”, “-tonic” is “tone” (sorry, not like “gin and tonic” this time. Go to the bar for that). Therefore, a pentatonic scale consists of five tones. The sixth note you play on one of these scales is the octave.

Today, I’ll give you both pentatonic scales and a melodic example based solely on Block 2. First, the minor pentatonic scale. Why the minor first? Because it’s ridiculously easy to play and practically a rock guitarist’s best buddy. It’s played entirely with blocks 2 and 3 and no position changes are required. Observe:

Minor Pentatonic

Now, the major pentatonic. Like the minor, this one uses just blocks 2 and 3, but two position changes are required. Note how strings 2-4 all start on fret 4 while the other three strings start on fret 5.

Major Pentatonic

As promised, the melodic example. Heavily inspired by the great Tony Iommi, this example is based off of the minor pentatonic and strictly uses Block 2. Click to big-ify:

Minor Pentatonic Example

Wait, what are those curve and line thingies? Glad you asked. The curve thingy is a slur, meaning the note on the other side of that mark is not picked. The line thingy denotes a slide – meaning you play and pick that note, then take your hand and slide it up two frets. IMPORTANT: leave your finger pressed down on the fretboard in order to get that second note.

And there you have it. Have fun with these and I’ll see you next time for Block 4.

Handy Dandy Little Reading Guide: String 1 = E, 2 = B, 3 = G, 4 = D, 5 = A, 6 = E. In tablature, string 6 is at the bottom of the staff while string 1 is at the top. The numbers on the lines tell you what fret to play and the lines themselves tell you what string to play.

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