5 Effective Pentatonic Exercises For Building Speed

Photo by JD Hancock
Building speed is not just for guitar players who want to play fast and look good (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but building speed is good for any aspect of guitar playing.

Once you’ve got a good technique and finger dexterity everything you play becomes easier from rhythm playing to soloing and everything in between. Life on the guitar gets better.

I’ve written down 5 exercises that will help you build up speed but also to get a good grip on your pentatonic scale so you can learn to play them inside out.

Go through each exercise slowly a couple of times before you try to speed up.

Set up a slow tempo on your metronome and when you feel comfortable enough gradually increase the tempo. Play as accurate as possible and keep your notes clear and clean.

Try to avoid extra sounding notes that aren’t supposed to be there by muting the strings you don’t want to hear with either your left hand or right hand.

Practice with focus and dedication and reap the benefits.
Have fun!

EXERCISE #1 (A minor pentatonic)
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B---------------------------------------------------------------------5---|
G---------------------------------------------5--------5--7-----5--7------|
D----------------------5--------5--7-----5--7----5--7--------7------------|
A-------5--7-----5--7-----5--7--------7-----------------------------------|
E-5--8--------8-----------------------------------------------------------|
 
e------------------------5------------------------------------------------|
B---------5--8-----5--8---------------------------------------------------|
G---5--7--------7---------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
And back
e--5----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B-----8--5-----8--5-------5-----------------------------------------------|
G-----------7--------7--5----7--5-----7--5-------5------------------------|
D----------------------------------7--------7--5----7--5----7--5----------|
A--------------------------------------------------------7-------7--5-----|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D---5---------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-----7--5----7--5--------------------------------------------------------|
E----------8-------8--5---------------------------------------------------|

Relax and take a few deep breaths.

EXERCISE #2
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B----------------------------------------------------------------------5--|
G----------------------------------------------5--7--5-----------5--7-----|
D----------------------5--7--5-----------5--7-----------7--5--7-----------|
A--7--5----------5--7-----------7--5--7-----------------------------------|
E--------8--5--8----------------------------------------------------------|
 
e-----------------------5-------------------------------------------------|
B--8--5-----------5--8----------------------------------------------------|
G--------7--5--7----------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
And back
e-5-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B----8--5-----------5--8--5-----------------------------------------------|
G----------7--5--7-----------7--5-----------5--7--5-----------------------|
D----------------------------------7--5--7-----------7--5-----------5--7--|
A----------------------------------------------------------7--5--7--------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D--5----------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-----7--5-----------5--7-------------------------------------------------|
E-----------8--5--8--------5----------------------------------------------|

Do some stretching exercises.

EXERCISE #3
e------------------------------------------------5--8---------------------|
B-----------------------------------5--8----------------------------------|
G----------------------5--7----------------5--7---------------------------|
D---------5--7----------------5--7----------------------------------------|
A----------------5--7-----------------------------------------------------|
E--5--8-------------------------------------------------------------------|
And back
e--8--5-------------------------------------------------------------------|
B----------------8--5-----------------------------------------------------|
G---------7--5-----------------7--5---------------------------------------|
D-----------------------7--5----------------7--5--------------------------|
A------------------------------------7--5---------------------------------|
E--------------------------------------------------8--5-------------------|

Take a moment to reflect and then let it go. Be present.

EXERCISE #4 (play in triplets)
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B--------------------------------------------------------------5----------|
G--------------------------------------------5-----5--7--5--7-------------|
D--------------------------5-----5--7--5--7-----7-------------------------|
A--------5-----5--7--5--7-----7-------------------------------------------|
E--5--8-----8-------------------------------------------------------------|
 
e-----------------5-------------------------------------------------------|
B-----5--8--5--8----------------------------------------------------------|
G--7----------------------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
And back
e--5----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B-----8--5--8--5-----5----------------------------------------------------|
G-----------------7-----7--5--7--5-----5----------------------------------|
D-----------------------------------7-----7--5--7--5-----5----------------|
A-----------------------------------------------------7-----7--5----------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A--7--5-----5-------------------------------------------------------------|
E--------8-----8--5-------------------------------------------------------|

Put on some coffee or tea and focus on the last exercise.

EXERCISE #5 (play in triplets)
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B--------------------------------------------------------5----------------|
G--------------------------------------5--------7--5--------7--5----------|
D--------------------5--------7--5--------7--5--------7-------------------|
A--5--------7--5--------7--5--------7-------------------------------------|
E-----8--5--------8-------------------------------------------------------|
 
e-----------5---------8--5-----5------------------------------------------|
B--8--5---------8--5--------8---------------------------------------------|
G--------7----------------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
And back
e--------5----------------------------------------------------------------|
B--5--8--------5--8--------5----------------------------------------------|
G-----------7--------5--7--------5--7--------5----------------------------|
D-----------------------------7--------5--7--------5--7--------5----------|
A-----------------------------------------------7--------5--7-------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
e-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A----5--7--------5--------------------------------------------------------|
E--8-------5--8-----5-----------------------------------------------------|

Thank yourself for taking the time to improve your guitar playing. Enjoy your coffee or tea!
 

If you want to improve your blues, rock licks and improvisation skills check out:
50 Cool Blues Licks Improvisation

 
 
 
Please share. I'd appreciate it.

    25 Responses to “5 Effective Pentatonic Exercises For Building Speed

    • Ivo:

      Hi Klaus, great post (i’ve only done the first exercise so far).

      is there a german version of this site? i’m just learning, and i figured it would be a good place to practice my reading.

    • Hi Ivo,

      There’s no german version of this site. Not that I know of.
      I think you’ll do great reading in English. Think of it as another good exercise. :)

      Best regards,
      Klaus

    • Matt:

      Hi Klaus,

      I just want to let you know I appreciate all of these great posts. You have no idea how much your website has helped me progress as a guitar player. Everything on here is useful, keep up the great work.

      Thank you,
      Matt

    • châu bùi:

      thank you very much. Your tips are very useful for me. I wish I could only see yours sooner.

    • Lisa:

      Dear Klaus,
      I love your blog articles! So thoughtful and well done.
      I have an active guitar learning site and mailing list.
      I would love to find out if you’d be open to my reposting some of your articles on my site (with proper credit and links back to your site, of course!)
      Thanks for your wonderful work,
      – Lisa McCormick

    • Hi Lisa,

      Of course, go ahead. Feel free.

      Best regards,
      Klaus Crow

    • Thanks for this lesson, gave me some good ideas for practicing my scales.

    • Brooke E:

      thanks, great tips.

    • Jon M:

      Should I be trying to barr these while I play or keep moving my first finger? Great exercises tho!

    • Eze:

      Hi! your lessons are always interesting and useful, always learning new exercises with your blog :D
      One question: which tool do you use to generate the tabs?
      Greetings, Eze

    • johnny:

      Klaus thanks a lot man I just came from the a minor pentatonic scales you tabbed out and well cheers man what you do is a great help cheers from ireland

    • Should this line be played with alternate picking? Tks!

    • “these lines” I mean

    • Art:

      Hi Klaus,

      Can’t wait for your 50 Licks course.
      I hope you don’t over price your product like most other sites do. I’d love to purchase the product to help support your site.

      Love all the free stuff you have here. You do a fantastic job with really useful information. I am a member on serval sites but the majority of them are full of fluff.

      Remember you will sell far more with a reasonable price than you will with a puffed up price.

      Anyway, best of luck with your 50 Licks package.

      I can’t wait to buy one of the first copies. I hope it comes downlable as this usually lowers the price over a mail out version.

      Thanks again,

      Art

    • Hi Art,

      The price is $29 dollars and it’s a downloadable version.
      I think it’s a fair price for the amount of content and work I put into it.

      Thanks for the support. I really appreciate it!

      Best regards,
      Klaus Crow

    • Shane:

      Hi, Klaus,

      This exercise is really helpful in getting me out of the rut that I’m in. I really appreciate the fresh look at the minor pentatonic scale; and anything that builds speed is a good thing.

      Cheers-
      Shane

    • Hi Art,

      The “50 Cool Blues Licks Course” is now available.

      http://www.50coolblueslicks.com

      Best regards,
      Klaus Crow

    • Hello exceptional blog! Does running a blog similar to this require a
      great deal of work? I’ve absolutely no understanding of programming but I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyhow, should you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject but I just needed to ask. Many thanks!

    • James Turner:

      Klaus, thank you for this website and lessons; they have made me a LOT better at my guitar skills. I’ve been practicing these particular exercises for about a week now for an hour or so a day continuously, no breaks. I’ve been nothing but smiles as I’ve watched my hand fly over these tabs flawlessly, quicker, and quicker. I’m now finding out for the first time that I need to pay more attention to my picking hand because it can’t keep up with my fingers. lol

      My only problem is after learning a lot of your exercises and getting them down pat I start to get discouraged because it’s not something I can show off that easily to my guitar friends.

      Do you know of any songs with lots of long picking scales or something similar to your exercises that’d be good to learn?

    • Yuming Feng:

      Should I be finger-rolling these exercises ??

    • Hi Yuming,

      Yes you should.

      Best regards,
      Klaus

    • butch:

      HI, I JUST WANTED TO SAY THANK YOU,I STARTED PLAYING WHEN I WAS A KID FOR SOME REASON I QUIT. I’M 58 AND STARTED PLAYING AGAIN. I TOOK LESSONS WHEN I WAS A KID,SO I REMEMBER A LITTLE BIT. YOUR EXPLAINATION OF PENTATONIC SCALES MAJOR AND MINOR ARE THE BEST I’VE SEEN 0NLINE. HOW TO BUILD CHORDS,EVEN I COULD UNDERSTAND IT. ITS NICE TO READ SOMETHING THAT SOMEB0DY ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT THEIR TALKING ABOUT.IT MAKES THE LESSONS FUN. THANKS BUTCH

    • Hi Butch,

      Thanks. Great to hear that the theory is comprehensible and that you’re having fun with the lessons.

      I appreciate your feedback.

      Keep on rocking Butch. Thanks!

      Best regards,
      Klaus Crow

    • Very helpful post, thank you for sharing! The pentatonic scale is excellent for building speed and dexterity. After chromatic exercises I always have my newer students doing pentatonic drills to keep warm ups interesting. Looking forward to seeing more, thanks again!

    • Ajit:

      hello,
      I can play it by looking it upon,do I need to remember it?

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