Sometimes also called the minor Blues scale, the Blues pentatonic scale patterns can be very useful, not just for Blues, but for general Rock guitar as well. On the guitar lesson I just linked to, it outlines the five patterns for the Blues pentatonic scale individually. This is a great way to learn these scales, but it also constricts you into boxes. All you can do with these shapes is move up and down the strings without an real mobility.
So how do you connect up all the Blues pentatonic scale patterns? Read on and find out!
If you haven’t read my lesson on the Blue pentatonic yet, I suggest you do that before tackling this guitar lesson though, otherwise it will be a little confusing. Learn the basic shapes first, get very comfortable with them to the point you can play them in your sleep, then come back here to understand how to connect them all. Without that foundation the upcoming diagrams will likely be very confusing.
Sequence Of Blues Pentatonic Scale PAtterns Up And Down The Guitar Neck
If you’ve already read my lesson on connecting minor pentatonic scale patterns on guitar, this part of the article will be very familiar. That’s because the pattern is the same?
Why is the pattern the same? Well, the Blues pentatonic is just the minor pentonic scale with the addition of a flat 5th. They’re essentially the same scale. Because of that, the shapes are pretty much the same as well. Of course with the addition of that flat 5th. So in this way, the Blues pentatonic scale isn’t really a pentatonic scale because it actually has six notes. Naming conventions are weird.
So if you’re comfortable with connecting minor pentonic scales across the guitar neck, you’ll be comfortable connecting Blues pentatonic scales across the guitar neck as well.
So take a look at the diagram below, starting with the E Blues pentatonic scale, the cycle goes E, D, C, A, G. Then it goes back to E again. Make up a mnemonic if it helps. Maybe something like “Every Day Cats Are Great” or maybe pretend you’re responding to a friend’s text message about goats with “Eating Dinner, Can’t Attack Goats.” It’s up to you.
In the diagram below I’ve put the root notes in red and the flat 5ths in blue so you can find you way around easily. There’s a lot to take in though!
You can see in the diagram quite clearly how the higher notes of a given shape line up with the lower notes of the previous shape!
As mentioned though, that diagram is pretty busy, so here’s the same diagram with fewer lines.
It’s a lot of dots still, yes, but if you’ve sufficiently understood and memorised the Blues pentatonic scale patterns, you should be able ot make sense of it. If you’re having trouble comprehending the diagram, go back to the basic patterns on their own.
Getting Better At Connecting Blues Pentatonic Scale Patterns
Even remembering the order of the patterns, it’s easy to get lost. Connecting all five patterns spans 13 frets: that’s a lot of geography!
In you’re having trouble, perhaps step back to the just doing minor pentatonic scales. There’s fewer notes!
From there, my other adivce is to always keep track of where the root note is. If you can quickly figure out where the root is, you can usually quickly figure out what shape you’re in and go from there. If you’re good at finding notes on the guitar, all the better.
But ultimately, as with so many things on the guitar, the key is just to do it over and over again. Not only will it help you memorise the patterns, but it will also get your fingers moving and more nimble.
How To Practice The Blues Pentatonic Scale Across The Fretboard
As I mentioned, repetition is key here. Repeat the patterns until you can do them quickly and with little effort. Feel free to do this in front of the TV and get yourself to the point where you can play these patterns without even paying attention.
Try some exercises:
- Play the entire E Blues pentatoic shape from the lowest note to the highest note, but don’t turn around and go back down. Instead, shift up to the next shape and play to the lowest note. Shift again, etc.
- Do the same thing in reverse.
- Play one of the Blues pentatonic patterns, playing all the notes up to the first octave, then shift to the next pattern.
- Then do it again in reverse!
Sorry to be repetitive with the repetition, but… repetition! It really works. And before you know it, you’ll be able to play these skills up and down the guitar neck without even thinking about it.