Box 3 – The androgynous box – Our suspended scale

Part three of our series on the pentatonic box shapes! If you haven’t checked out the first two blogs (they immediately preceded this post), then I highly suggest you give me an extra click and go back and read those, just so you get an idea of what I’m talking about, because I will refer to something in those posts. 

HOLY SHIT THAT IS A LOT OF WATER! Does she live under a waterfall?

Blah, blah, blah, the obligatory disclaimer at the start, and you know what? I hate writing that shit. I just want to start, and it’s my post and your eyes, so you’re gonna have to deal! 

Box three has become my favorite to play! It’s the center of the pinwheel of the minor shape, and if placed at the root note on the sixth string, it’s a suspended scale, which is cool because it means that even if the parts underneath you are major or minor, you still won’t miss a note! 

It’s also the only scale where you have to move your first finger, which trips up a lot of people at first, but it kinda makes it more fun when you have it in the bag! 

Let’s explain what a suspended scale is, why it’s androgynous, and when it would be a good time to use this box! 

Major and minor chords are made up of three notes. 

The 1st (root), the 3rd, and the 5th, if you flat the 3rd note in the scale, you have a minor chord. We’ve hit this before! 

Major

1 – 3 – 5

Minor 

1 – 3b – 5

Sure sure

Okay, but what if we did a scale that avoided that decisive 3rd note? Well, my friend, now you’re talking about playing a suspended chord/scale! When making a chord, you can choose between the 2 and the 4 to replace that 3. 

Sus2 (sounds a little sadder)

1 – 2 – 5 – 

Sus4 (sounds a little happier)

1 – 4 – 5

But we’re talking about scales here! So here are those intervals you’re hitting, without thinking about it! Remember, this only is the case if you place box three off of that root note that you’re wanting. Let’s say you wanted a C sus scale. You start on the 8th fret on the sixth string with box 3. The pentatonic scale with box three looks like this,

Sus Scale

1 – 2 – 4 – 5 – 7b

This scale works over both minor and major chords, and although it doesn’t have a lot of “flavor,” it does have a nice subtle tone over these chords. It is very affected over the chord underneath it, this is a cool thing, and you should experiment with it some!

Here’s a full suspended scale

And of course, if you continue from the other boxes, you’re still playing in that minor key. 

Here’s the scale 

Drive all the way through the song with the windows down. Slow ride, baby

I’ve said this three times now, but remember that if you start this box on the root note of your choosing, instead of placing it as a continuation of the minor pentatonic box, you are playing a suspending scale, and if you keep following that box pattern up and down the neck, you’re still playing a suspended scale!

Practice up, my darling! 

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