Is Pentatonic Scale Killing YOUR Solos?

The Pentatonic Scale is one of the most popular scales in the world of guitar soloing. Every day, hundreds of thousands of Pentatonic Licks are performed by guitar players everywhere. This lesson demonstrates an easy way to inject some life into this popular scale pattern...

Far too many guitar players will repeat the exact same Pentatonic licks over and over again for years to come in exactly the same ways, which can get stale sounding.

In this lesson, I’m going to show you a simple "One Drop" note concept for the Pentatonic that can work as a way to quickly and easily stretch your performance of solos using this popular scale.

During the lesson, I'll explain in detail just how easy it is to add in a couple of new note extensions into the pattern so that you can stretch your scales and stretch your musicianship for better soloing results.


Minor Pentatonic is the scale type which is the most widely known and the most widely used scale by guitar players. 

In fact, the Pentatonic Minor is the shape that gets played almost 100% of the time when I’ll ask a new student who comes into my office to just go through and play any scale that they know.

The Minor Pentatonic scale pattern is a scale shape that’s generally learned by students very early on. And, if no other scale patterns are introduced to the student, this one gets played for much too long becoming the main scale for literally all their licks and runs.

Guitar students will actually use this scale so much that they will wind up getting held back from learning new sounds and learning new ways of playing licks and runs – which is obviously not very good.

Now, you guys all know I don’t hate Pentatonic scale or anything, it’s a fantastic scale and it’s a great sound to be able to start building soloing skills from - very quickly.

But, what I am saying here in this lesson is that you don’t want to hang around on Pentatonic scale for too long, because it does have its limitations.

What we’re going to do is introduce an easy idea to help you branch out from the sound of the Pentatonic by using a “One Fret Drop” idea (from the tones that exist in it).

These "Drop Notes" will help to create a new direction of sound from this popular scale so you can start adding in new tonal effects to a very common group of notes that you already know.

In getting started, let’s learn a favorite 6th-string guitar neck pattern of mine for the Minor Pentatonic and we’ll use it to study how this concept that I’m referring to as the “One Drop,” method really works.

Here’s how this pattern operates from off of the 6th string root from the note of “A” at the guitar’s 5th-fret…

Standard Minor Pentatonic:
6th-String (A)

"One-Drop" Minor Pentatonic:
6th-String (Moveable)

So, as you can tell these "One Drop" scale adjustments move down from the Pentatonic’s Minor 7th scale degree, to include a “Major 6th.” And beyond the octave the, Pentatonic scales Minor 3rd degree also drops down to include a, “Major 9th.”

The best part about all of this is that these two sounds can be used either in isolation, or they can be blended together to create some really interesting soloing “options.”


NOTE: Isn't this just the Dorian Mode?
The total accumulation of all notes involved does indeed come together as the "Dorian" mode.

However, the premise of this "One-Drop" approach is based more upon "Dropping" existing tones from the Minor Pentatonic, and having the drop tones available as "Optional" notes.

Also, I've stressed in this lesson, that we're focusing on the use of the 2nd degree tone applied only as an upper "Extension" used exclusively beyond the octave.


Next, I want to show you another pattern for this same idea, but this time we’ll be basing our scale pattern off of the 5th string root.

“One-Drop” Minor Pentatonic:
5th-String (Moveable)

The "One-Drop" shift occurs on the 3rd and 2nd strings when this concept is applied off of the guitar's 5th string root. Study adding and blending this sound over different Minor key and Blues riff situations.

As you could tell the 5th-string root scale pattern for this “One-Drop” approach (with the Minor Pentatonic) applies a shift at the 2nd string to compensate for the guitars unique tuning arrangement there.

Other than that, we’re still dealing with the same intervals related to this sound.

It’s at this point where I really need to stress that this type of work is what will stretch you out of your comfort zone with this scale and get you to force yourself to hear and apply new sounds.

The "One-Drop" Minor Pentatonic method is all about shifting your mind-set from doing a scale pattern (the same way), for too long using the same notes.

Instead the new "One-Drop" scale degrees become a study of new "optional" tones and new sounds for your ear. As well as, how you can get both your ear and your fingers to lead you to become a better guitar player.

It goes without saying that playing a decent guitar solo is not about being able to play a scale perfect, or fast, but rather it's about getting you and your listeners exposed to new sounds.

Most importantly, it is about learning how to control new sounds. So, if you want a way to stretch the effect of a scale (a scale that is super popular), then Minor Pentatonic obviously fits that category.

I’m guessing that many of you watching this already know that this scales sound – but the idea of this video and blog post is all about making modifications with notes that you already understand.

When you start doing this type of work, you will begin exercising a scale so that it offers you more tonal response, but most importantly, the work will start to alter the note path of what you’re hearing in your head.

That is what will really make you a better guitar player.

If you found this video helpful, make sure you leave your comments and thumbs on the YouTube video, and if you’re looking for a step by step guitar program that puts real – tested methods into a proven guitar course (not just random YouTube videos) it’s all available over at Creative Guitar

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