Mega Pentatonics!

Take off the training wheels and burn through these pentatonic licks.

Advanced

Intermediate

• Develop a deeper sense of subdivisions.
• Understand how to use alternate pentatonic scales.
• Learn how to balance different picking styles.

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Pentatonics are certainly well used (maybe overused?) by guitarists. There’s so much you can do with them and there’s a lot of great music to be found within our beloved five-note scale. My aim is to go for the whole “sheets of sound” thing that was popularized by John Coltrane and later adapted to guitar by players like Allan Holdsworth. However, the technique arms race has slowed down over the last few years, with modern players opting for interesting lines that focus more on cool rhythms and unexpected intervals. Let’s get to it.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.

Advanced

Beginner

• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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Patterns can be viewed as boring or trite, but a little bit of creativity can turn them into bits of inspiration.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediater
Lesson Overview:
• Learn different ways to arrange scales.
• Combine various sequences to create more intersting lines.
• Solidify your technique by practicing unusual groupings of notes. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.
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Think triads are boring? Try a few of these improv ideas.



Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
Build intriguing lines that outline the changes.
Use 16th-notes to create syncopated subdivisions.
Combine odd groupings to heighten rhythmic interest. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Let’s take a look at building cool lines using root-position diatonic triads taken from the major scale. What is a triad? A triad is built by stacking three alternating notes from a scale. For example, if we take a G major scale (G–A–B–C–D–E–F#) and build a triad on the root by skipping every other note we get G–B–D, a major triad. Another way to think of this is to stack a minor third (B–D) on top of a major third (G–B). If we extend this process throughout the scale, we end up with the following triads: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, and F#°.

Because all these chords are diatonic to a single key, we can use them to create some interesting lines. Many rock and fusion guitarists who are inspired by saxophone players use this approach in their improvisations. Larry Carlton, Frank Gambale, and Steve Lukather are just a few of the notable 6-stringers who incorporate this approach into their phrasing.

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