I am experienced with both, scales and pentatonic. but when it comes to the point to mix them together, I have some trouble. My goal is it to extend my possibilities, but at the same time to keep this blues or classic rock flavour. I need this as a kind of extension of the blues scale, since I am trying to play a kind of fast blues and I would need a kind of three finger scale, wich allows me to play faster licks. Basically I am looking for possible extension or mixes, to be able to play fast licks wich still sound blues. This could help you understand what I mean:

  • 2
    While I'm not a blues player (and thus not comfortable posting an answer), I think that perhaps instead of focusing on different scales, you should think about the chords you are playing over. Being able to improvise convincingly has a lot to do with reinforcing the underlying harmony. So instead of thinking "what scales should I play" think about "what are the notes in the chord I'm playing over" and then try to emphasize those notes in your playing.
    – user57228
    Feb 4, 2019 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


As beginners, guitarists are often taught "modes" because these correspond to patterns up and down the neck, which are movable. Using these patterns is often (and erroneously) conflated with playing in those modes. If this is how you learned it, unlearn it. If I'm right, you have no interest in making the Locrian mode sound bluesy but you do want to use more of the neck and play faster. You've noticed that you're stuck in a boxy pattern that spans four frets and you want to do what the guy in the videos is doing, which is playing the notes of the blues scale up and down the whole neck.

So let's get some terms straight. When you say you're "experienced with both scales and pentatonic," you're showing an incomplete understanding. What you probably mean by "scales" is diatonic scales and what you mean by "pentatonic" is pentatonic scales. They are all scales. Think of diatonic scales as the major scale, the natural minor scale, and the modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolean, and Locrian). Pentatonic scales are 5-note scales. The important part to understand is that a pentatonic scale is a subset of a corresponding diatonic scale.

For example, look at the G major and G pentatonic major scales: G A B C D E F♯ G. (The pentatonic scale members are bold.) Or look at their relative minor scales, E minor and E pentatonic minor: E F♯ G A B C D E.

Once you see the relationships between major and minor scales and diatonic and pentatonic scales, many things become clear. You'll notice that by adding two notes (in each octave), the pentatonic patterns you've learned become diatonic patterns. Likewise, by removing two notes (in each octave), the diatonic patterns you've learned become pentatonic patterns. You'll also see that relative majors and minors share the same notes.

The blues scale is a pentatonic minor scale with a flat fifth thrown in. It's called the "blue note" and it's what gives it the characteristic bluesy sound.

If you've already learned the patterns, start thinking about how they interlock and how you might play between them. Once you do this, you'll have a more holistic view of the fretboard. Sit down with your guitar and draw your own diagrams instead of looking them up online. It's a worthwhile exercise that often leads to greater understanding. In the process, you may realize, for example, that a diatonic scale actually has six pentatonic scales within it. (Going back to the G major scale example, we already found G pentatonic major and E pentatonic minor. It also contains the C and D pentatonic major scales and their relative minors, A and B.)

Below is one example of how you might go about diagramming. Red dots are major roots, green are minor, yellow are "other" pentatonic notes, grey are the additional diatonic notes, and the blue are blue notes.


Perhaps you've been taught the major scale like this:


But realize that every non-blue dot on the entire diagram is a note of the major scale, its relative minor scale, and its modes.

You may have been taught that this is the "Dorian" mode:


Again, it doesn't matter if you're playing in this so-called Dorian shape or not, the music doesn't become Dorian because of that. But you do now have an additional position in which to play the notes of the same scale you started with. You'll notice they butt up against one another, so you can combine sections of both and give yourself the broader pattern you're looking for:

Major - broad

The purple outline is another common major scale pattern.

So think about the patterns (whether diatonic, pentatonic, or blues) that you already have in your head. You'll be able to find them in the diagram and see how they interrelate. If you do that, build your own diagrams for climbing the neck, and practice them, you'll be on your way to using more of the neck.

  • I think no one could have answered better, thanks a lot!!
    – Milo_666
    Feb 6, 2019 at 11:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.