Drill of the Week #43 – Single String Pentatonic Guitar Scale

richardsguitarstudio on May 5, 2015


Nate shows you how to play a single string pentatonic guitar scale. If you haven’t learned the pentatonic scale yet – and you should right away as it is the bread and butter of rock guitar playing – go to this post here. The pentatonic “boxes,” especially the classic root position box, can get stale over time. Also, being locked into one position, and only having the trajectory of your solos being across the strings horizontally rather than along the strings vertically, can limit the creative potential of any guitar soloist (no matter how good they are). Using a single string is an easy way to learn guitar soloing and scales that create interest, and have potential for further creative exploration. Here are a few tips:

  1. Name the notes in the scale. Use this as an opportunity to name the notes in the scale. Come on, you only have 5 letters that repeat A-C-D-E-G. This is a great start to basic theory, and also a good mindset to put yourself in when approaching the neck – by letters, not by numbers.
  2. Practice the scale improvising with as many creative techniques as possible – but stay on ONE string. Sticking to one string focuses your attention to other details besides the same old tired licks. Articulations and guitar techniques (slides, bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, trills, tapping, tremolo picking, and on and on) can be utilized in completely new ways that you may never have come up with in any other environment. Watch Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc – they move around the guitar neck constantly to get just the right phrasing in their guitar solos.
  3. Learn the lick – then change it. Adapt the lick to your own tastes. Add, delete, substitute ideas. Keep the beginning the same but continue on your own to a new creative space. Basically – use my lick as a starting point and then find your own voice on a single string in the process. Think singing – your guitar sings closer to a human voice on one string than in any other fashion.


Nate from Richards Guitar Studio shows you how to play a single string pentatonic guitar scale and lick. Great for improving soloing and adding interest and something new to your solos. An easy way to learn guitar soloing.

Richards Guitar Studio provides professional guitar, drum, and bass lessons and rock band school in Aston, PA. Serving Delaware County – Media, Swarthmore, Springfield, Ridley, Garnet Valley, and Wallingford.

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