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 Major Pentatonic Drills

This lesson is an extract taken from my brand new book Soloing School: Beginner Lead Guitar Method.  Use these A Major Pentatonic drills over the A Major backing track below.

The Major Pentatonic scale sounds happier than its minor counterpart and is synonymous with country, blues and rock, although it is very versatile and used in most genres. Slash, Chuck Berry and Eric Clapton are all associated with the Major Pentatonic sound.

The A Major Pentatonic contains the notes A B C# E F#.

By learning the examples in this article you will gain dexterity as well as fretboard fluency within the A Major Pentatonic scale.

Example 1 – A Major Pentatonic Scale

Play through the full A Major Pentatonic scale shape ascending and descending using alternate picking. Start the scale with your second finger so that you can follow the one-finger-per-fret rule.

a major pentatonic drills-example-a

Example 2 – Double Picking

Double pick every note of the scale in example two.

a major pentatonic drills example b part1 a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-b-part2

Example 3 – Triplet Picking

Example three demonstrates playing each note of the A Major Pentatonic scale three times using a triplet rhythm. Remember that you can use any three syllable word to help you count a triplet, I prefer el-e-phant.

a major pentatonic drills exampl part1 a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-c-part2

Example 4 – Quad Picking

Now pick each note of the Pentatonic scale four times.

a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-d-part1 a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-d-part2

Example 5 – High to low frets

Start on the higher fret of each string and ascend through the A Major Pentatonic scale.


Example 6 – Low to high frets

Descend through the scale starting on the lower fret on each string.


Example 7 – String Skips Ascending

Example seven shows how to ascend the Pentatonic scale using string-skips.


Example 8 – String Skips Descending

Now descend the A Major Pentatonic scale using string-skips.


Example 9 – Groups Of Three

The next example combines the A Major Pentatonic scale into groups of three. Practice this slowly and build up your muscle memory as these serve as great ‘lick builders’!

a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-i-part1 a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-i-part2

Example 10 – Groups Of Four

The next example combines the scale into groups of four.

a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-j-part1 a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-j-part2

Example 11 – Groups Of Six

The next example combines the Pentatonic scale into groups of six.


Example 12 – Skip A Note

The final example in this article uses a ‘skip-a-note’ pattern. This is a useful exercise to help you break the habit of playing all the notes of the Pentatonic scale sequentially.

a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-l-part1 a-major-pentatonic-drills-example-l-part2

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Simon Pratt Guitar Teacher

Author - Simon Pratt

Simon Pratt attended the Guitar Institute (now called the Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance) in London where he excelled in his Diploma of Popular music performance and graduated in 2005. His passion for funk music continued while studying privately with top funk player and editor of Future publishing magazines Jason Sidwell. Always keen to learn, Simon has attended…

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Buy Joseph’s books. There are the best I’ve ever read for guitar instruction. I’ve learned more in just one book in the past 8 months than I had in years in other books and websites. He is good in all phases but I enjoy the way he teaches the Caged Method. It’s just easier Joseph’s way.

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