3 Note Per String Pentatonics

Hi everyone. This lesson is going to center around 3 note per string pentatonic licks. These were created on 7 string guitar but don't let that deter you from adapting them for 6 string or even bass! I tend to use a lot of these types of patterns in my own playing. It takes quite a while to become comfortable enough with the shapes, large stretches, and fretboard movement to be able to improvise with these types of licks so you'll have to be persistent and dedicated to accomplish that. I'm not going to map out pentatonics on the fretboard for you since I feel you'll learn a lot more by doing that yourself.

Ex.1. This is an ascending B pentatonic scale pattern that I use often. The picking pattern itself isn't that complicated but the position shifts may give you a little trouble with left and right hand synchronization until you get the hang of it.

Ex.2. While going over some of the sequences on Rusty Cooley's “The Art of Picking” (you DO have it don't you? If not, BUY IT NOW!), I wondered what those types of sequences would sound like with 3 note per string pentatonics and string skipping. Here is one result in key of E:

Ex.3. As the lick in Example 2 continued to branch off in different directions, the inclusion of some chromaticism gave it a more bluesy tonality:

Stop by my site at for more licks, video, and music!

Richard Tull has been playing guitar for over 20 years and has been featured in “Guitar World”, “Keyboard”, and “Recording” magazines and has had his music used in film and network television (MTV). He is currently putting together a shred metal band called When Angels Die ( and also plays in the shred band Edge of Chaos ( You can contact Richard at .