Jazz Guitar Pentatonics – Part 3 – Patterns for Jazz Guitar

Finally some fun stuff! Let’s get those jazz guitar pentatonics moving. If you did you homework from parts 1 and 2, you should know what pentatonic scales and how to play them all over the fingerboard.

Once again, we will focus our attention on the minor and “dominant 7th” pentatonic scales. Here are my favorite pentatonic patterns to practice at first … and the reasons why I believe you should have fun practicing them too. Watch the video above:-)

Patterns : Get Pentatonic Scales Moving!

When first starting out learning pentatonic scales, it is important to apply patterns. I recommend you simply use the patterns contained in this instalment, as soon as you are comfortable with one fingering / position. The patterns useful to get “the fingers moving” instead of blandly running the scale up and down. (In brief, once you memorized the scale in the easy “up and down” motion, go for patterns right away.)

Some word of advice: using pentatonics is all about creating beautiful, intricate, complex and strange (?) angular melodies. We are breaking out of the usual diatonic (7-note) scales and we seek as much freedom and neat ideas as possible. Don’t box yourself in again! Don’t fall in the trap of making them “flashy” by running patterns as fast as you can… it won’t be musically meaningful to you and other musicians.

Basically: don’t be a rockstar here. 🙂

Practice the patterns slowly, evenly, in good time, with a good posture and hand position. And please always aim for a full sound on each note. If we cannot hear every note very well, you are probably practicing the patterns too fast.

Four Fun Patterns for Pentatonic Scales

Only four?!? Isn’t there, like, a thousand patterns?

I know … but it’s just a starting point, something to sink your teeth into. And hopefully, something to get you hooked [laughs]. Of course, you could practice many, many more patterns. Pentatonic scales really lend themselves to patterns! Here’s a Jerry Bergonzi book that contains many interesting patterns: Inside Improvisation Series Volume 2 – Pentatonics. It comes with a neat play along CD too!

So, without further ado, here are my four favorite “basics” patterns:

Pattern #1 (Ascending)


Pattern #2 (Ascending)


Pattern #3 (Descending)


Pattern #4 (Descending)


Here is the PDF file containing the FOUR basic patterns for jazz guitar pentatonics(in Am, 5th position)

What you’ll find in the PDF above are the four patterns written in Am pentatonic. You’ll notice that they are all four-note patterns: two ascending and two descending. I’m only providing the patterns in the “classic” fifth position for A minor pentatonic. I am the teacher, so I get to be lazy. 🙂

But what you should be doing, though, is learn the four pattern in all five positions. Go slow!

And furthermore: learn the four patterns both for the A minor and the D7 pentatonic scales learned in part 1 and 2, in the five positions.

And those steps should be doable for you, right now. Here’s why:

If you followed this little article and video series so far, you should be able to play the Am7 (our usual minor pentatonic) and D7 (dominant) pentatonics in five positions. That’s ten scales fingerings so far. If, furthermore, you are to apply the four basic patterns above, it means that you now have 40 different “exercises” for your pentatonic scales in total. Lots of work, wow! But it should be manageable at this point.

Jazz Guitar Pentatonics: Foundations

Keep in mind, though, that what we have here is really just the foundations. We would need more advanced patterns and concept to incorporate the sounds of Jerry Bergonzi, Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrel, Pat Metheny, (etc.) we are looking for. Relax: slow and steady wins the race. Go slow, learn the pentatonics and the four patterns and you will be well on your way! The magic really lies in the applications on chords and progression (next instalments).

More words of wisdom: once again, be careful not to “be too technical” about it … learn and practice patterns that inspire you. Keep in mind you’ll be using the scales and concepts to create meaningful and souful improvised melodies in the spur of the moment. The aim is not to become technically proficient for the sake of being flashy and fast. Music first, always.

See you in Pentatonics Part 4 – where we’ll apply pentatonic scale to specific chord types. Lots of neat improvisation ideas coming our way!

6 thoughts on “Jazz Guitar Pentatonics – Part 3 – Patterns for Jazz Guitar

  1. Hello Marc-Andre
    Thanks a lot for all the free vidéo you give us, in this “#ù€k!ng” business world.

  2. This is really useful stuff. Challenging always but at every level anyone can take something valuable away from it.

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