#1 Scale For Rock Guitar Lesson

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#1 Scale For Rock Guitar Lesson

Hi there, this week we will be tackling the #1 scale for rock guitar solos.  You have heard it everywhere, from Led Zeppelin’s music, right up to that of John Mayer and beyond.  I am talking about the pentatonic scale which is ubiquitous with rock and roll guitar soloing and riff writing.

Minor Pentatonic Scale

The pentatonic scale has its  roots in many cultures from Africa to Asia and beyond, but most of us are familiarized with it through North American blues music.  The minor pentatonic is a 5 note scale, the prefix “pent” means 5 of course. The intervals found in the scale are 1, b3, 4, 5, and b7, and so this scale works great over minor chords and chord progressions, but it is also used heavily over major triads and dominant 7th chords such as those found in blues.  Why does a b3 work over a diatonic major 3rd? Well, the answer lies in that the sound of a b3, as long as it is not heard against a major 7th chord, gives the impression of a #9 tension which is a very gritty, bluesy, dissonant sound found in much blues and jazz music.  Again, the only caveat when using over a major chord is that the major 7th is not present.

Scale fingerings

I have written out the 5th position of the Am pentatonic scale along with a multi positional extended Am pentatonic scale which touches on parts of 4 positions of the guitar.  Memorize these before tackling the licks section of this lesson.


I have chosen 3 licks in the styles of Jimmy Page, Eric Johnson, and Zakk Wylde.  Please play very close attention to the picking in the Eric Johnson lick as this will make this particular lick much easier if you utilize what is known as “economy picking” to play phrases such as this.

Have fun with this stuff and see you next time!


# 1 Scale For Rock Guitar Lesson


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