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Pentatonics

1989: I was 24 years old and had made quite a name for myself in the town of New Orleans LA using the same old Eddie/Yngwie shit.

One night while watching some music special or it might have been an MTV special, I caught an eye and earful of an unknown fresh new guitarist “Eric Johnson.’

He was playing at the time what would become one of the most famous pop guitar instrumentals.

“Cliffs of Dover.”

What I noticed first was his incredible melodic composition and flawless dexterity.

And his tone sounded to me like a cross between a trumpet and an alto sax.

But what I found most intriguing were the long pentatonic runs.

And he seemed to do them without slipping or sliding his fingers from one position to the next

Traversing what seemed like the entire guitar neck.

This was the one and only time I ever got to see Eric live.

So although I eventually learned “Cliffs” everywhere he did the long pentatonic runs I had to improvise something that sounded close because the technique eluded me for years.

March of 2001.

Over a decade later I met a formidable young guitar player named Jayson while corresponding with the guys at Ron Thal’s message board.

Upon Jayson’s first visit to my cave he brought with him an instructional tape by a guitar player I had never heard of. “Shawn Lane.”

The first thing I noticed was the same peculiar pentatonic runs that Id been listening to Eric play for over a decade.

And he seemed to be a far more intricate player (in my opinion.)

After learning the first scale cleanly in only a week I started to really vex on Shawn’s playing.

On the video tape he kept referring to the accommodating work book that has everything tabbed out

So he kept playing through everything pretty fast.

After scouring through every music shop I found myself purchasing Shawn Lane’s “Power Licks & Solos

For $35. The last one in NY after everyone telling me there outa print.

After studying Shawn’s tape and book for the last couple months I’ve come to the conclusion that Shawn and Eric’s use of this pentatonic technique are somehow connected.

And to this day have not heard any other guitar player make practical use of these techniques.

What I found while studying is that rather than playing mostly in one position or slip sliding to the next

In a (2 note per string kinda thing) that they were both using a (three note per string kinda thing.)

This coupled with 4,5 & 6 note roupings creates what I think is the most incredible sound since the swept arpeggio. In fact when played correctly at top speed it almost sounds arpeggic.

The first part of this lesson is not much different than the Shawn Lane tape.

Here are the 5 pentatonic positions in the key of A minor.

You’ll find the 2nd position is what we as guitarists use most of the time so its commonly mislabeled as first position. 

First lets focus on note groupings.

The following lessons are still limited to one position and 2 notes per string so you can get a basic feel for (note groupings.) These lines are presented some ascending and some descending.

Its important to learn them both ways.

E minor 2nd position

6 Note Groupings


 -15-12----------------------------------
 -------15-12-------15-12----------------
 -------------14-12-------14-12----------
 -------------------------------14-12----
 ----------------------------------------
 ----------------------------------------



 ----------------------------------------
 ----------------------------------------
 -14-12----------------------------------
 -------14-12-------14-12----------------
 -------------14-12-------14-12----------
 -------------------------------15-12----


 

Aminor Pentatonic 1st position

With 5 Note groupings.

This has a more exotic fingering.

Ya I know stretching the first and second finger sucks.

So start on the 12th fret and work your way back to the 5th over a period of days or weeks.

Dropping back one fret daily just like adding a couple of pounds to the bar every other workout or so.


 3 1 3 1 3 2 1 3 1 3 2 1 3 1 3 2 1 3 1 3
-------------------------------------3-5-
---------------------------3-5---3-5-----
-----------------2-5---2-5-----5---------
-------2-5---2-5-----5-------------------
---3-5-----5-----------------------------
-5---------------------------------------

E minor Pentatonic

2nd Position

4 Note Groupings


-15-12-------------------------------------
-------15-12-15-12-------------------------
-------------------14-12-14-12-------------
-------------------------------14-12-14-12-
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------



---------------------
---------------------
---------------------
---------------------
-14-12-14-12---------
-------------15-12---

E minor Pentatonic

2nd osition

3 Note Groupings

This exercise I picked up from Angus Young in the early 80s while learning the solo to AC/DC’s “Back In Black.”


-15-12----12--------------------------------
-------15----15-12-15-12----12--------------
-------------------------14----14-12-14-12--
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------



--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------
----12--------------------------------------
-14----14-12-14-12----12--------------------
-------------------14----14-12-14-12--------
-------------------------------------15-12--


This next line is something I came up with as soon as I realized that Shawn and Eric were using three notes per string to skip from one position to the next.

I said to myself why not just do three notes per string chromatically all the way down.

No groupings at all.

This will test the limits of the average gtr player.

However for the high end gtr player you’ll find the wide intervals quite refreshing.

You’ll also find that there’s a spot on this scale that has only two notes.

I adapted it this way to prevent from playing the second and fifth frets on the A string with the first and second finger.

This lesson should serve as an extreme version of how you’ll be shifting from one position to the next

By catching three notes per position.

E minor Pentatonic

3 Notes Per String

Across 7 Positions

 4    3   1 4   2   1  4  2  1 4 2 1  3 1 4 2 1
-17-15-12------------------------------------
----------15-12-10---------------------------
-------------------12-9-7--------------------
--------------------------9-7-5--------------
--------------------------------7-5----------
------------------------------------7-5-3-0--

And if you wanna get radical play the last 2 strings like this and stretch Baby!.

-7-5-2------------
-------5-3-0------

Alright the next 2 scales are where the moneys at.

Only these 2 have sound files.

Pay close attention to the fingering.

Remember to learn them acceding and descending.

Good Luck!

Rico Mancini

RRANGEL.COM

#1 sound file

E minor Pentatonic

With 4, 5 & 6 Note Groupings

Crossing 7 Positions

 0  1 2 4  1 2 4 1 3  1 3 1 3 1 3 1 3 1  2 4
------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------
---------------------------5-7-----5-7-9--
---------------5-7-----5-7-----5-7--------
-0-3-5-7-3-5-7-----5-7--------------------



 1  2 4 1 3 1 3  1  2 4  1  2  4 1   3    1 1
-----------------------------------------
-----------------------------10-12------
-------7-9-----7-9-12-7-9-12-------9-12
-5-7-9-----7-9--------------------------
-----------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------



 1    2  4   1    2  4 1    3    1   31   3   4
-------------------12-15-------12-15-17-
-10-12-15-10-12-15-------12-15----------
----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------

#2 sound file
A minor Pentatonic

With 4 & 5 Note groupings

Crossing 4 Positions


 1 3 1 2  4  1 2 41  3  2 1 3 1 3  2 1 2  4 1  2 41 3    21  3 1  3    2 1  2   4
---------------------------------------------------------8-10----8-10-12-
---------------------------------------------8-10---8-10------10---------
---------------------------5-7---5-7-9-5-7-9------9----------------------
-----------------5-7---5-7-----7-----------------------------------------
-----3-5-7-3-5-7-----7---------------------------------------------------
-3-5---------------------------------------------------------------------

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