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Wide Pentatonic Scales

A couple months ago, I decided to revisit Richie Kotzen’ debut LP. Wow, what a sound! The thing that stuck out to me the most was how wide Richie Sounded. When I say wide, I mean that his note choice was characterized by the jumps he made between intervals in the scale. Rather than play a scale as a succession of intervalic values like root, second, third, fourth, etc., he would make jumps between the intervals, maybe going something like root, third, fourth, sixth, octave, whatever. It’s what you leave out of a particular scale that gives it a wide sound.

Creating Wide Pentatonic Scales

After listening to this record over and over again, and really getting this wide sounding flow of notes in my head, I decided to experiment with easy ways to create wide sounding lines in my own playing that I could bust out on the fly. Pentatonic scales are fairly easy, I thought, and since they leave out the second and the sixth, are already fairly wide sounding. Pentatonic scales also sound freakin’ great over pretty much anything, so I didn’t have to learn how to adapt this over a bunch of different scalar shapes (yet, that is).

Creating The Pattern

In this example, the pattern is based off the F# Minor pentatonic scale, but you can move it to any key you wish. I start on F# on the A string and play the next note on the pentatonic scale, which is A and gives me a minor third sound. I then play the next note in F# minor pentatonic, but instead of moving to the D string like I normally would, I stretch out and grab it with my pinky on the 14th fret of the A string, giving me a B note and the 4th in my F# minor pentatonic scale. So I essentially just created a 3-note-per-string pentatonic shape taking two notes from my root box (first finger on F#) and one note from the next box (B). I then do a little string skip and apply this same concept to the G string. This time I start on 9th fret G (the note of E), which is the 7th of my pentatonic scale. So we just skipped from the 4th interval to the 7th interval, and that’s a nice wide jump. I then play the root of my scale (F#) and again the 3rd an octave higher. I then skip to the high e string and play C#, E, and F#, or the 5th, 7th and root of my F# minor pentatonic scale. I then slide up to Shape 2 and follow the same concept.

Once you get these shapes under your fingers, I have no doubt you’ll be zipping around the fretboard adding a wide touch to your soloing.



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