We will now bring our attention back to lead by analysing how Jimmy Page expands the pentatonic sounds by adding major and minor notes. We call this the 'full scale' as it takes the 5 note pentatonic and brings in the 2 extra notes of the major/minor scale. Not only will we learn how to layer up the new notes, but will also talk about how to improvise with the scale.
The full scale is more commonly known as the major or minor scale. However, when you learn the pentatonic scale first, it makes sense to call it the full scale as it turns the 5 note pentatonic into a 7 note 'full' scale! To learn this properly we will take a look at the A minor Pentatonic and the A minor 'full' scale. Here they are in theory terms:
As you can see, the full scale has two extra notes that will make the scale sound far more 'minor' than the pentatonic does! People often think of it as a darker more moody sound than the minor pentatonic.
Let's put this into practice and learn our first shape. We are basing the first shape around the A minor pentatonic shape 1, so it should be fairly familiar territory!
Let's take the theory and concept that we learnt in the previous lesson and apply it to the next 2 shapes of the pentatonic. We will now take the pentatonic shape 2 and 3, and add these extra notes. The scale shapes look like this:
To complete all the shapes, we need to now learn shape 4 and 5 of the full scale. Once again we will take the pentatonic shape 4 and 5 and add the extra two notes. They look like this:
When dealing with scale shapes that have an odd number of notes on each string, it can be a good chance to try a different picking technique known as 'economy picking'. This simply means that you restrict your alternate picking to the most economic friendly approach... i.e. not doing down up strokes if you don't need to. Here is the first scale shape tabbed out using economy picking:
For example, on the E string you would play a down, up, down stroke for the A, B and C notes. This means that when you move to the A string your plectrum is already facing downwards. So, rather than dropping over the A string to come back upwards in an up stroke, you can simply drop through the string by continuing your already downward movement. This therefore saves an extra motion and is therefore the most economic picking available! Please be sure to watch the video to the end to see this in action. The tab
We have learnt this new full scale based around A minor, but the good news is that we can just as easily apply all of this new information to major. Just as the 5 pentatonic shapes work for major and minor, so do the five full scale shapes. For example, if we wanted to play the shapes in A major we would simply find our 5 pentatonic shapes in A major and add on the full scale shapes. Easy as that! Suddenly we know every single position of A major as well as A major pentatonic!
If you don't understand how to find the pentatonic shapes in major then we would highly recommend tackling the , as we go through this in detail. More specifically, the 'Hendrix Style' unit where we go through matching up the CAGED chord shapes with pentatonics.
To solidify these new ideas we will now talk about applying them to improvising. In the video we start by looking at the . We simply find our pentatonic 1 shape, add the extra notes and away we go! Work your way through shape 2, 3, 4 and 5 to really push yourself to memorise the shapes. All of the shapes are written out below:
We then looked at the . We simply find our pentatonic 2 shape, add the extra notes and away we go! Work your way through shape 3, 4, 5 and 1 to really push yourself to memorise the shapes. All of the shapes are written out below:
Again, if you don't understand how to find the pentatonic shapes in major then we would highly recommend tackling the , as we go through this in detail. More specifically, the 'Hendrix Style' unit where we go through matching up the CAGED chord shapes with pentatonics.
Try your skills with the following backing tracks in various different keys!