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Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar

The major pentatonic scale is a wonderful, simple way to add colour to your blues playing. It is a warm contrast to the minor pentatonic/blues scale and is often used right next to the minor pentatonic to suddenly ‘lift’ a solo into a happier, major territory. In this lesson you will master it’s unique sound and learn some great major pentatonic licks for guitar.

The best thing about the major pentatonic scale is that it uses exactly the same shapes as the minor pentatonic scale, but the shapes are simply shifted down 3 frets. For example, compare the following:

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 1Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the easiest ways to play A major pentatonic lines is to simply move your Minor pentatonic lines down 3 frets. You have to be a little careful sometimes, but if you let your ear guide you then you won’t go far wrong in your practice.  For example, try the following figure over a blues backing track in A:

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 3

This is exactly the same pentatonic lick played twice, the second time it is shifted down 3 semitones to create the major pentatonic sound.

While the Major and Minor pentatonic scales may look the same on paper, they are very different sounding scales. In fact the Major pentatonic has more in common with the Mixolydian mode than the Minor pentatonic. If we compare and contrast these two scales, you will see the similarities clearly:

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 5 Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you remove the notes on the 8th fret on the 5th and 6th strings, you will see that they are the same scale. The major pentatonic scale is like a stripped down Mixolydian mode.

While it is a handy trick to be able to shift your minor pentatonic lines down 3 frets, it is obviously important to be able to see the major pentatonic scale as an entity in its own right.

The major pentatonic scale sounds fantastic over a dominant or major style blues, but it doesn’t work so well over a minor blues. It is used a lot in country music and for all those ‘Hendrixy’ double stops as you will see in the following 5 examples.

As with the Mixolydian mode, major pentatonic scales are freely combined with the blues scale for a rich flavour.

A Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar

Here are five, ‘shape 1′ major pentatonic licks for guitar. Visualise them around the following chord shape:

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 5 Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 8

 

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 12

 

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 11

 

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 10

 

Major Pentatonic Licks for Guitar 9

 

Joseph Alexander, guitarist & guitar teacher - Fundamental Changes for guitar

Author - Joseph Alexander

Joseph has written twelve books for guitar students, and has sold over 30,000 books worldwide Fundamental Changes in Jazz Guitar I: The Major ii V I for Bebop Guitar Minor ii V Mastery for Jazz Guitar Drop 2 Chord Voicings for Jazz and Modern Guitar The CAGED System and 100 Licks for Blues Guitar The Complete…

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I was amazed at how every page of each book offers something to learn. Even stuff I already knew is explained in a clearer way which makes it easier to use and memorize. Every guitarist / teacher will benefit from owning these great books and they won’t cost you a fortune

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