Mastering the Guitar Fretboard
Throughout our lessons, I've stressed how once you learn the
pentatonic scale, you can use the same fingering patterns to play in other keys.
Now is the time that you begin to do just that. We will work on a few different
progressions that are not in the key of C major.
The first progression we will play lead to, will be
in the key of G major.
The Key of G
Major has the chords that follow.
G Major, Am, Bm, C Major, D Major, Em F# dim. G
Em pentatonic would be the natural minor
for the key of G. Check out key signatures before we begin. key
G major pentatonic and Em pentatonic share the same notes
and are relative to one another. If you are playing over the G chord or a
progression in G major, use G major pentatonic, or Em pentatonic, but
start on the G note.
the pentatonic root note fret fingering for all minor pentatonic scales
will always be. 1-4, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4, 1-4
So for Em pentatonic play 1-4, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4, 1-4, at the12th
The notes for Em pentatonic are: E, G, A, B and D
For G major pentatonic use
2-4, 1-4, 1-4, 1-3, 2-4, 2-4 at the 15th or 3rd fret for G major pent.
G, A, B, D, E, G. Notice that G major pentatonic and Em pentatonic share
the same notes. If you played lead in the red box above you would be
playing the Em pentatonic scale. If you played lead in the orange box, you
would be playing the G major pentatonic scale. But you could use the red
box for G major, just start on the G note.
Play the Em chord and then play the notes in the red box.
Play the G chord and play the notes in the orange box.
Look to the left and notice all of the chords in the key of G
For those of you who have purchased my CD Rom,
please study the lead keys chapter. Also study major key theory and look over all the G major progressions
In every major key, there are always three major chords,
three minor chords and a Diminished chord. Look above at the circle and
find all of those chords.
G, C and D are the major chords. Am, Bm and Em are the minor chords.
The F# is the diminished chord.
A popular progression for any major key is a 1, 4, 5 progression. I,
IV, V. Since we are illustrating the key of G major, the G would be the I chord, the C would be the IV chord and the D would be the V chord. If your
not up on chord formula's or roman numerals,
please go back and review that chapter. Check out leading to modulation
part 1 and return. Check out leading to modulation
I've stated throughout our lessons that every major chord
has a relative minor. Each of those three major chords in the key of G and
every major key has a relative or natural minor within that particular
The Em scale is relative or natural to the G major scale. Am is relative or
natural to the C major scale. Bm is natural or relative to the D chord. These
are always the same, no matter what key. For Example, the Am is relative
to C in the key of C as well.
What does this all mean? This is really one of the most important
things I have to tell you. This information is worth more than you will
ever know. If you understand what I have to tell you, you will be a kick
ass guitar player.
Once you know the natural or relative minor scales to the major
scales, playing lead guitar will be very easy to understand. I have showed
you how to play the Am pentatonic scale in every position for a reason.
You should know the relative minor to every major. Each of these scales
share the same notes, or key signatures. Check out key
signatures to get an idea of what were talking about.
It is also
very important to know where all of the chords are on the complete fretboard. If you know where you can play the C chord in every position, then
you could also play lead over those same positions. To understand what I'm
saying, check out the C chords and different locations you could play the
C. C chord and
locations. Once you review this example, print out some
illustrations and fill in all of the chords of the key of C
major in the same fashion. By using these illustrations on a regular basis, you will master the
Putting it all together.
Since there are 3 major chords and three minor chords in every major
key, then there must also be 3 major and 3 minor scales. We will be
looking at the G major and Em pentatonic scales to start out. The
progression we will be working on will be constructed for G major
pentatonic. The pentatonic scale has only 5 notes. In G major the notes
G, A, B, D and E. The key of G major has 7 notes, G, A, B, C, D, E, F# and
Play the G major chord. Remember what that chord sounded like. Now play
the G major pentatonic scale, in the open position.
This is also the Em pentatonic scale, but
since we are strumming the G chord, we will concentrate on the notes of G
major. We can also use the Em pentatonic root note fret at
the 12th fret. 1-4, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4, 1-4 below. But once again we need
to concentrate on the G note. It should sound good, because the Em is natural
and share the same notes of G major. You would always try to play on the notes of the chord your playing.
For example, the notes that make up the G chord are, G, B and D. You would
work around those notes for the G chord.
If we wanted to use the Em pentatonic scale for the Em chord, then we
would write a progression based on the Em scale. This progression would
look more like, Em, Bm, Am, Em. Or maybe, Em, D, Am, Em. The minor
progressions tend to give the sadder sound compared to the major
progressions that give that happy sound. I prefer the darker sadder sounds
of the minors.
1 G major and Em pentatonic scale.
The illustration above shows the G major pentatonic scale and notes. It
also shows the Em pentatonic scale. These two scales have the same notes.
G is the relative major to Em. Em is the relative minor to G major. Once
again the pentatonic scale has 5 notes. Every pentatonic scale has 5
notes. For G major the notes are G, A, B, D and E. Notice that E is the
5th note. This means that in every major pentatonic scale, the 5th note
will be the relative minor scale.
The notes of C major pentatonic are C, D, E, G and A. Notice that A is
the 5th note. So A is the relative minor to C major.
When you write a song, you can write it based in a major scale or a
minor scale. In this lesson we will start with a major progression in the
key of G major. Strum the chords, G, C and D. Now play the notes of the G
major pentatonic scale below. These notes will blend in nice with these
chords. These chords are right out of the key of G major. You can play all
of these notes over each of the chords in the progression G C D, or you
can mix in different scales as you play over each chord.
Em pentatonic and G major pentatonic. Notice the G chord and Em
chord in the Red box. G chord has the notes, G, B and D, Em has the
notes, E, B and G.
If you wanted to, you could play the C major pentatonic scale over the
C chord. C major pentatonic and Am pentatonic share the same notes. So
recall the position of Am starting on the 12th
fret or position. Go back and check out this position, also go back and check out the position at the C
note 8th fret Am pentatonic scale. Strum the C chord and play from C to C using the illustration below. You can
play over the C chord C, E and G, using the Am pentatonic scale below.
This will allow you to play the C major pentatonic scale and the G major
pentatonic scale in the same position. Of
course you could jump to the 8th fret and play the C major pentatonic
scale or even the 5th fret and play the Am root note fret for
the C. But concentrate on the C chord and notes.
3 The illustration to the left shows the C major pentatonic
played at the 12th fret. You can use this position to play over the C
chord. Notice the only note that is different between C major and G major
pentatonic. It is the C and B notes. G major pentatonic has the B note and
C major has the C note. The other notes are the same. Eventually you will
be learning the scales and how they relate to one another. Strum the C
chord and then play the E note 14th fret, G note twice at the 12th fret
then back to the E note 14th fret EGGE. These notes will fit over the C
chord, because they are part of the C chord. CEG.
Strum the C chord again and play the same thing but use the E note 9th
fret and G note 8th fret. EGGE,EGAGE, EGA(C8thfret)AGE,GE(C10th fret)
So you can use these positions to play over the G chord or the Em chord. When it
comes to the C chord you could stay here or play the C scale as illustrated above.
C major pentatonic at the 8th fret. Same notes as above, but different
location. Learn them both and memorize each position and note being
played. If you moved this exact fingering two frets to the D 10th
fret, it would now be D major pentatonic. You could use that position to
play over the D chord. This is a must to learn because the D chord would
be part of the progression and is a big part of the key of G major. D
major is the 5th note of the key of G major which makes the D chord the
Dominant chord in the key of G major. By the way the C chord would be the
The Dominant chord wants to resolve to the tonic.
This creates closure. The tonic would be the home note or 1st note. In the
key of G, G would be the home note where everything will revolve around
and come back to. Strum the C and D chords and see how they want to
resolve to the G chord. When the G chord is strummed following those
chords the progression has been completed or came to a final. This is why
the I, IV, V progression is so popular.
Now try the same thing in the
key of C major. C, D, E, F, G, A and B
I, IV, V progression in C major would be C
F and G. Strum the F and G chord and see how it resolves to the C chord. C
is now the Tonic and G is the Dominant and F is the Sub-Dominant. This
progression has a very strong cadence in how it resolves.
minor progression is weaker. Am, Em and Dm would be a minor progression.
Am is relative to C major, same notes. A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
This would be a i, iv, v progression using the natural A minor. Strum this progression,
Am, Em, Dm and Am. Notice it has that sadder sound and doesn't resolve or
come to a closure like that C or G major progression. It also wants to go
back to the Major key it is from. Try Am, G, Dm, Am this is another minor
progression you can work on. Remember play the minor pentatonic over the
minor progressions and major pentatonic over the major progressions. Am
pentatonic for the Am progression. C major pentatonic over the C major
progression, G major over the G major progression. Or learn how to fit
them all in over the same progression.
Practice the hammer-ons, bends, pull-offs.
Practice the Am grouping of 5 different
positions in the Am pentatonic scale. Once you have this memorized, convert
it to the G minor pentatonic scale. This could be done easily by moving all
the notes down two frets.
Use triplets on each scale above. Play triplets
in every pattern.
Practice the root 6 and
5 bar chords.
More root 6 bar
chords for your reference.
Practice playing G major pentatonic scale at the open position, third
fret, 12th and 15th frets. Use illustration 1 above.
Use illustration 1 G major pentatonic scale to play over the G major
Lay down the G, C and D chords on cassette and play the G major pentatonic
scale over them.
Lay down just the G chord and play G major pentatonic over this chord, use
illustration 2 above.
Lay down just the C chord and play just the C major pentatonic scale over
it, illustration 3 above.
Use illustration 4 above to play over the C chord.
Figure out how to play D major pentatonic. Move the fingering of C major
pentatonic from the 8th fret to the 10th fret and you have created the D
major pentatonic scale. D, E, F#, A, B. Notice each of these notes are in
the key of G major too.
It's now time to go to the progression
in the key of G major, using the root 6 and root 5 bar chords.