The pentatonic, or pentatonic minor scale, or simply blues scale, is the basis of the majority of blues, rock and metal music of the 20th century. If you want to start playing lead guitar, improvising blues and rock, or writing classic sounding rock tunes, the pentatonic blues scale is definitely the place to start. But despite the name this isn’t only about blues. In fact getting this scale to sound like authentic blues is not actually that easy!
As the ‘pent’ prefix implies, this scale has just five notes, so is simpler than a typical major or minor scale (they have seven notes) – it’s basically a slimmed down minor scale, missing the 2nd and 6th notes. You can use it to solo in one key, or other typical twelve bar blues progressions. It really is an easy way to play a handful of notes that sound GREAT right from the get go.
You may have heard of modes, specifically the Phrygian mode. A mode is basically a guitar scale, and the theory behind modes can be useful, as it shows how different scales relate to each other. But if you find guitar theory a bit much you can skip all that. (If you are interested, check out a full explanation of modes here). If you find learning guitar scales hard, do not worry, this one is really easy! Also known as the Phrygian minor scale, it sounds super evil – great for metal – and will give a whole new twist to your riffs! Get Phrygian!
So, we are starting from an assumption you know a minor scale (also known as the natural minor or Aeolian mode). If you do, it’s as easy as changing one note in the scale. So let’s remind ourselves of the minor scale. If you are already familiar with this scale, jump forward to the Phrygian fingering diagram.
Synyster Gates is getting a lot of attention just now – with numerous hit records, his own signature guitars and amplifier from Schecter, and an increasing reputation as a modern-day guitar hero. We present a profile of the man, explain why he is viewed as one of the best guitarists on today’s rock scene; and give some ideas on how to get the Synyster Gates sound.
Californian metal band Avenged Sevenfold are clearly one of the most popular hard rock bands today, and with six studio albums (including two reaching number one) they are certainly hard to ignore. Brian Haner Jr, or Synyster Gates as he is better known, has been there since the beginning; Syn’s the man responsible for those insane guitar solos you’ll hear on tracks like Afterlife and Beast and the Harlot.
Finger picking is a simple skill that can greatly improve your playing, and it isn’t just for folk and country players! If you are usually a pick player, you may just be surprised about the different textures that become open to you.
Alternate picking is said to provide more sustain and tone control, as stated by guitar legends such as Steve Morse. This type of picking pattern takes more time to learn than natural picking patterns such as directional picking. Most guitar players seek to use a hybrid of the two picking patterns instead, so the best of both worlds may be enjoyed.
Figure 1 –With alternate picking, up-strokes and down-strokes are alternated. There are a few benefits and disadvantages over direct picking that guitar player should be aware of.