Phrase Training: C Major Pentatonic

The exercises in this study will be focusing on and using the two most important patterns (first line of defense) for a Major Pentatonic Scale in the Key Of C; Root 5, pos. II Root 6, pos. VII


This course in scale training is, at the risk of being redundant, all about learning how to play scales and how to use the scales. In the case of Pentatonic Box Patterns, their ease of use, how well they adapt themselves to lots of musical situations, forgiving nature and playability causes them to become overused and yield a sleepy, rambling unmusical result. A good many of those who have studied the guitar have mistaken the ability to do a few bends and quickly breeze through Pentatonic Box Patterns for completely mastering the art of lead guitar playing. The tricks, licks and bends based on the Pentatonic Box Patterns are to

  • -be used with restraint: racing up and down scale patterns and doing cliché bends should not define your entire style.
  • Develop phrases; your phrases are the sentences in your musical poem.
  • Lock in with the rhythm section, the rhythm of the solos you play can make or break your entire style.
  • Play with a sense of melodic thinking and creativity within the patterns, use skips, leaps and interesting combinations of notes as opposed to running scales.

Applications of Major Pentatonic Scales . . .

In the case concerning the use and application of these highly unusual and adaptive Major Pentatonic Scales the presence of the natural or Major 3rd makes them unacceptable to songs in a minor key or vamps using a minor chord:

  • If a song, vamp or chord progression is based on a Major Chord, then the Major Pentatonic Scale of that key can be an interesting and acceptable choice for creating riffs, licks and also for soloing.
  • If a song, vamp or chord progression is based on a Dominant Chord, then the Major Pentatonic Scale of that key can be interesting and acceptable choice for creating riffs, licks and also for soloing.
  • If a song, vamp or chord progression is based on a Minor Chord, then the Major Pentatonic Scale of that key IS THE WRONG CHOICE for creating riffs, licks and also for soloing. The natural or Major 3rd is simply too dissonant for the Minor Tonality.

Root 5 Major Pentatonic Scale Phrase Training Exercises, Key Of C . . .

Below are several phrase training exercises for use with the Major Pentatonic Box Patterns. The lesson to be learned here is that a tremendous amount of good music can be made with a few simple notes, played in rhythm. As with the Minor Pentatonic Scale, we’ve highlighted a set of sweet spots or phrase boxes in order for you to learn to function within the scale patterns and discipline yourself to show restraint.


Forcing you to create melodic lead guitar parts and play musical phrases. The stop and go method was designed for you to echo the phrases back, reproducing them by ear, but also to improvise different and complimentary as if your were trading phrases with me on the recorded exercises.


The 4 note phrase boxes here are merely suggestions and there for you practice the ‘less is more’ approach. Any other sweet spots or phrase boxes you may find, formulate or favor are fair game and should be used and practiced with the same methods you’re learning here.

Root 6 Major Pentatonic Scale Phrase Training Exercises, Key Of C . . .

Continue with phrase training exercises for use with the Root 6 Major Pentatonic Box Patterns. In the diagrams to the right we’ve suggested some, what we’ve called Sweet Spots or 4 note Phrase Boxes.


These exercises have only one limitation on them; the imagination of you, the student. These challenging exercises have been carefully developed and tested to teach the rare and elusive art of lead guitar playing, which ultimately will be the ability to play what you hear in your head. Practice with the stop and go method often and on a consistent basis until the phrases that you hear seem easy and effortless. Link this sound in your mind to the words “Major Pentatonic Scale, the sweet melodic sound”. After you’ve mastered the ear training and rhythmic timing aspect of the phrases, treat each one as a musical question providing the musical answer to which is your job. Experiment, improvise, and work hard with these and all stop and go exercises provided with this course.

Return To Lesson


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