Moving Guitar Scales


A question I get asked somewhat often is how do I move guitar scale patterns around on the fretboard?

Well, hopefully this video will answer those questions. If you’re still unclear afterwards, please leave a comment below.

The basic idea is recognizing which note in the scale pattern is your root note, and then to understand how when you shift the entire pattern to a different root note, that whole scale changes into a different key.

Moving Guitar Scales

If you’d like to download the worksheet I used in the video, you can do so here. (Right click on the link, and select save target as)

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  1. Thanks Jonathan, this was very helpful. Your Guitar Patterns, and 1 4 5 lessons are great, but this did clear up a lot..I need all the help I can get!! 🙂

  2. Great stuff man. Leaves nothing to slow anyone down…but procrastination!! I have the dvd (Guitar Scale Pattern), but always read your emails. Just wanted to let you know it was money well spent. Am working regularly on your I-IV-V course and it has also been a big help. I can now do like John Fogerty said he does. “Get a melody in my head, and then just through a bunch of words together that rhyme.” (-: Ok, maybe not LIKE he does, but you know what I mean. It is much more exciting when the pieces begin to fit together, and you understand why. So thanks partner. Take care, Wayne

  3. I just wanted you to know that this lesson has been very informative. I have been playing guitar for quite awhile, and I learned (a long time ago) the “box” pattern used for playing blues licks. Much later I learned that it was really called a pentatonic scale. I already knew how to play major scales, so a friend (a drummer!) told me that if the blues song was in the key of G that I should play a step-and-a-half up, just as if I was playing a Bb major scale. Sounded great to me. But now, after your lesson, it’s nice to see the real relationship between the two scales: the G minor pentatonic being the relative minor in Eb. Hope I’m making sense here. Thanks.

  4. Hi Jonathan
    You are always full of surprises. Simple but not simplistic. You can consider me a dedicated student. I have your courses and may I say anyone who uses your courses and does not practice, is missing out alot in thery and in technique. I have your course only for a couple of weeks and it turned my guitar playing around 180 degrees. This video was actually a fresh breeze because although I know music theory but it is not something really learned in traditional music theory, but the guitar is breaks out of traditional music theory. Every day I go to the computer and think “what does Jonathan have up his sleeve today” and I am always wowed. So thank you and keep it up.
    In the Scale Patterns course you showed us the major scale run. Do you maybe have a sheet or something for the minor scale run?

  5. Hi Chaim, the Pentatonic Run sheet is pretty much what you’re looking for, as it comes out of the pentatonic minor scale which overlays on top of the diatonic minor scale. That sheet is included…

  6. Hi Johnathan,
    Liked your video very much, it has cleared up a couple of nagging questions, wondered if you could give me some insight into “Capo”, is that a form of “Bar-Cord”, if so how do we figure out what key we are in on the fret board,sorry for such a simplistic question, it is right in front of me I guess but as the saying goes”Can,t see the forest for the trees.
    Many Thanks Barney

  7. I have been playing the guitar for a number of years and have never been able to get to grips with pentatonic scales, but this has helped me a lot. Thanks Jonathon.

  8. So, I still don’t understand where I need to be on the fret board using this pattern in relation to what key I’m in. If the song is in the key of “A” do I need to be using this pattern on the 2nd fret “F#” minor pentatonic scale, or do I need to be down on the 5th fret for the Am pentatonic scale? Also if the key changes in the song, (I mean most songs are root, 4th and 5th chord) do I need to move the scale pattern to match the chord the song is in at that time, or can I stay in the pattern of the root key for the entire song?

  9. Yes, if the key is A major, then you can use the 2nd fret F# pentatonic minor scale to solo in. If there is a key change, then you just shift accordingly. Changing key is different than changing chords though… for instance in your example of A major, you might have a song using A, D and E chords. You can stay in the exact same F# pentatonic minor scale throughout the duration of the song, over any and all of those chords. You would only have to change scales if the key of the song actually changed, for instance if everything shifted up to B (B, E, F#).

  10. thakyou.
    its seems easy always when a tutor shows the way.before that nothing comes in mind.
    this time again same happens to me with your pentatonic scale.

  11. Nice job. I do have a question though. How do I relate the other four pentatonic patterns to the key. ie how would I use them to solo? also, how do I know when this same pattern is in the major key?


  12. The pentatonic scales fit exactly inside of the diatonic scales, so they relate to they keys the same as the diatonic ones.

  13. Jonathan, I’m getting a little confused over the relationship between say the A pantatonic minor, with the root at the A root 6 (that part I get) and the C on the 6th string defining the topof the scale. I play a lot of songs in G. So, should I be using the Em pantatonic for those songs? I sort of get how to move the scales. But, why do we move them? Do they move at the chord changes or changes in the songs key?
    A (former) monkey see, monkey do player

  14. Hi John, yes, you would use the Em pentatonic when the song is in the key of G major. You have to move the pattern so that the notes line up with the key you’re playing in. The scale defines the notes we have to work with in that key, whether they be used to create chords (like the G major chord for instance) or if they’re used for solos or riffs. If the pattern is in the wrong place on the fretboard, then you have the wrong notes in the scale, and it will sound horrible against a G chord.

    With that scale, you can stay in the same scale for the whole song, you don’t have to change every time the chords change. I explain this stuff a lot more in the course.


  15. Thanks for this.
    It has resolved a question that was in the back of my mind and I was meaning to review Scale Patterns and 145 – but now I don’t need to.
    My question was about the major to relative minor pentatonic relationship.
    You made it clear in the first grid example but to me you didn’t reinforce it with the other grid examples.
    It seems to me that the ‘rule’ is that the second note of the relative minor pentatonic scale is the note name of the major scale (??)

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