Messing Around with the Major Pentatonic Scale!

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix having some fun with his upside-down Fender Strat!

Remember our last lesson when we talked about two STRING SYMMETRICAL SCALES? This week I’d like to explore a riff taken out of this scale. This scale comes from the two STRING SYMMETRICAL; it is a MAJOR PENTATONIC SCALE. This is a really fun 5 note scale that slides up the fretboard quite nicely! Hendrix fans will quickly recognize this sound from such songs as “Remember,” “Manic Depression” and “Castles Made of Sand.” There are versions of all of these on Youtube. If you aren’t familiar with these tunes, check ’em out while you read this lesson!








1 3/3 1 3 1 3/3 1 3 1 3/3 1 3

Use your first finger to start the phrase, then use the third finger to play the 2nd note AND slide up to the third note. The next string is simply first finger, then third finger – there is no slide. The bar lines indicate ONE OCTAVE of this scale. Since it’s a FIVE NOTE SCALE (PENTATONIC), the octave appears every 6 notes. Watch the jump to the ‘b string’ here as it jumps up a fret.

Although you can play this scale with your 1st and 3rd fingers, you can also use your 2nd and 4th fingers to play the last two strings – in accord with the theory of POSITION PLAYING. Try both ways as an exercise (as most people do not make use of the pinkie).

Now lets play a Jimi Hendix riff which uses this scale. The song is called “Remember” and I recommend listening to the track before playing the riff in order to get a good sense of what we are trying to play. Here is the main verse riffs. Jimi tuned down a half-step (to Eb) so the recording is in Ab, played on the 4th fret.

This riff starts with an Ab note (on the low E string) followed by the full Ab Major Chord, THEN the sliding part…

A few notes: The slide from the 6 to 8 (6/8) is played with the 6 being really really fast (GRACE NOTE) so you are almost just ‘passing through’ the 6th fret on your way to the 8th fret. The 8p6h8 means that you will pick the 8th fret, then PULL-OFF to the 6th fret (not picked) and then HAMMER ON back to the 8th fret. Use these techniques for the riff in all three keys (Ab, Eb, Db)

|——4– ———————- \

|——4————————- \

|——5————————- \ X2

|——6————————- /

|——6————6-8p6h8— /

|4—-4—–4-6/8————– /

Repeat Two Times!

Then play the same thing in Eb:

|———————————-| \

|—-8—————————-| \

|—-8—————————-| \ X2

|—-8————-8-10p8h10-| /

|–6-6—-6-8/10—————| /

|———————————| /


Then Try the Same thing in Db

|———————————-| \

|—-6—————————-| \

|—-6—————————-| \ X2

|—-6————-6-8p6h8—-| /

|–4-4—-4-6/8—————–| /

|———————————| /

These are the 3 changes. It’s a typical blues pattern with some variation. The tab (as usual) gives NO timing information – which is why it is doubly important to use the recording/youtube as a reference. The point of all this isn’t necessarily to teach you the SONG, but rather to show you how the sliding MAJOR PENTATONIC SCALE is used in a real-life application.

So until next time, remember to practice hard and play often!

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