Pentatonic Scales Part 4

Are you ready for some big gains? Today we’ll elevate your pentatonic playing by completing the puzzle and adding in three more patterns – giving you a total of five patterns. And guess what? Once you’ve got this down, you’ll totally own the fretboard as a pentatonic master. So grab your guitar and buckle up, this is going to be a wild ride.

This far into the pentatonic series it’s a good idea to take stock of what’s happened so far.

  1. Pentatonic Scales Part 1 introduced you to the A Minor Pentatonic scale pattern 1, introduced some killer practice routines and put it all together in your first guitar solo.
  2. Pentatonic Scales Part 2 revealed pattern 4 , giving you greater range for your solos. You also added in some more ideas for the practice routine. This was then followed by a two position solo to lock it all in.
  3. Pentatonic Scales Part 3 is where you discovered how to play in any major or minor key and wrapped it all up in a key changing solo.

Our next objective is this:

Learn patterns 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

And before you freak out, remember you already know patterns 1 and 4, so there’s only 3 to go.

Once you’re acquainted with these I’ll show you some ideas for memorising them and playing them like a boss.

Finally I’ll be giving you another solo incorporating all 5 patterns so you’ll be moving all over the fretboard like a pro.

Here’s today’s lesson guide.

Ready, Set, Go!

Today we are going to learn our patterns in the key of F minor. This is because we will have the most room on the fretboard to play through patterns 1 through to 5, even if you’re using an acoustic guitar.

Here’s F Minor Pentatonic Pattern 1 in first position. The lowest root note is on the 6th string in the 1st fret.

Example 1:

Nothing surprising there hopefully.

May I Present Pattern 2

Here is pattern 2. Try and play though it few times to get a feel for it. I have put in the fingering that I use.

Remember, in every pattern you want to know where the lowest root note is. In this case it’s on the 3rd string in the 3rd fret, played by the 1st finger.

Example 2:

Go ok?

Something I want you to notice is the overlap between patterns 1 and 2.
The highest notes on each string in pattern 1 become the lowest notes in pattern 2.

In the image below, you can see how the green notes are common to both patterns.

This will be the case with all of our patterns.

Ok, to save reinventing the wheel here, remember that to really learn any scale pattern it’s good to run it through a practice routine. Here’s a list of ideas.

  1. Ascend and descend using 1/4 notes, 1/8 notes, triplets, 1/16 notes. Alternate picking from 1/8 notes and faster.
  2. Sequence in 3 and 4.
  3. Ascend and descend using hammer on’s, pull off’s and slides.
  4. Try combinations of hammer on’s, pull off’s and slides on each string.
  5. Practice all of the above with a metronome or backing track at different speeds.

Don’t forget to use a time keeping aid like a metronome or a drum loop.

You may find some of these routines feel better working from the lowest note, rather than the lowest root note.

When doing the above, you could easily spend 10 minutes or so on each pattern, but it would be worth it. You’ll develop great technique and a deep knowledge of the pattern.

Just So You Know

I will be showing you how to link up the patterns a bit later in this post. For now, we’ll just press on with learning pattern 3 and 5.

Enter Pattern 3

Ok, this is an odd one. This pattern has a position shift in it and there are a few ways to tackle it. I’ll include some suggested fingerings.

Here is pattern 3.

Example 3:

Weird huh?
Just remember that in the real world, some fingerings work better than others. It really depends on context.

Ok, run this through the routine. (I know that’s easy to write and hard to do but it’ll be good for you, and remember, I’ve been there too!)

You’ll find that sequencing and other musical devices will need careful attention to fingering, you may even need to change it temporarily. Go slow and be deliberate.

This one may take a while so be patient.

Pattern 4

Here’s pattern 4. I know you know it but I’ll put it here for continuity.

Example 4:

High 5

With patterns 1 to 4 out of the way we only have one left to go.

Here is pattern 5.

Example 5:

What I like about this one is that it has the same fingering every two strings.

Again, you’ll want to spend some time getting to know this pattern.

5 Patterns – Now What?

Knowing patterns 1 to 5 is great but whenever you watch skilled players ripping it up with pentatonic scales you’ll notice how smoothly they move between the patterns when playing their phrases and how they utilise the fretboard.

In the next post I will be showing you some more advanced ideas for doing this, but for today, I want you to see all 5 patterns in relation to each other.

Without this you’ll struggle to link them together in your mind and with your hands.

Linking Up

In the example below we’ll simply ascend and descend each pattern sequentially from pattern 1 to 5 using 8th notes.

For these drills we will be starting from the lowest note in each pattern, not the lowest root note. This is more about learning the shapes than the root notes at the moment.

Example 6:

Ok, let’s change things slightly. This time we will ascend pattern 1, then descend pattern 2, then ascend pattern 3, then descend pattern 4 and finally, ascend pattern 5. This might feel strange at first, especially because of the strange finger jumps and switches we need to make. I’ll include the fingering I use.

Example 7:

Now let’s try this going backwards. We’ll descend pattern 5 then ascend pattern 4, then descend pattern 3, ascend pattern 2 and descend pattern 1.

Example 8:

Pattern Numbers Vs Reality

I know that since we started this series I have been naming the patterns 1 through 5.

But in reality, these patterns always follow each other. It varies which pattern is the best choice on the low (headstock) end of the fretboard, depending on the key you are in.

For example if we wanted to try these exercises in Cm, the best logical pattern to use might be pattern 4. Or if we were in Am, pattern 5 would be a good choice.

Let’s have a look at the 5 patterns in Am.

Example 9:

I just don’t want you to think that Pattern 1 is always the first best option when playing all over the fretboard.

Also, don’t forget the 12th fret rule. You could repeat your lowest patterns again 12 frets up giving you access to even more of the fretboard. This is how we can cover the entire guitar!


So there you have it. All 5 patterns on the fretboard.

In today’s lesson guide I’ll put the patterns up first, showing both their major and minor root notes so you can use them in any Major or Minor key.  (if you have no idea what I am talking about you might like to read Pentatonic Scales Part 3)

It would be worth printing at least the first page of this lesson guide and sticking it on you’re wall for a while.

Let’s sum up your objectives from today’s lesson:

  1. Practice patterns 1 through 5 individually and put them through the routine, being aware of where the lowest root is located.
  2. Practice Patterns 1 through 5 sequentially to get familiar with how they connect to each other, commencing from the lowest or highest note in each pattern.
  3. Improvise over a backing track in one key, playing phrases and ideas from each pattern.
  4. Work on these patterns in different keys.

Pentatonic Solo #4

Today we’ll be soloing over a metal inspired backing track in Fm.

My intention is to show you how it feels playing all over the fretboard, with phrases from all 5 patterns.

As always there’s a performance track, a backing track and an extended improvising track.

Pentatonic Solo Part 4 130 BPM: I’ll Show you

Slowed Down Performance 110 BPM: If you’re struggling try this first

Pentatonic Solo Part 4 Backing Track: Now you do it

Extended Fm Backing Track 130 BPM: You Jam over this

Up Next

To round off this series we’ll get creative with some pentatonic licks. Some short and snappy, some long technical runs and some ideas to help you be creative with the 5 patterns.

I hope you’re enjoying this series and I’ll see you in Pentatonics Scales Part 5.

About the author

I'm really excited to be teaching guitar. Not many people receive the joy that I feel when seeing the progress of each of my students. It's truly a privilege, and I'd love you to join me.  

As I'm sure you know, learning guitar is a long journey, so you must be committed to it. But, if you're willing to put in some hard work for some big rewards, come and join me! 

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