ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Guitar Lesson, Pentatonic Scales

Updated on January 8, 2022

Using pentatonic scales

Pentatonic scales are 5- note scales. They are the easiest and most widely used scales in rock and blues guitar - it's the sound of the solo in Stairway To Heaven, for example, the intro to My Girl, and hundreds more songs throughout the styles of popular music. Mainly because there are two notes less than a standard scale, they make improvising much easier, especially for beginners.

The first example is Em pentatonic - a classic example of this scale is Wish You Were here by Pink Floyd. Next, the scale is shown along the neck, rather than across it.

  • You can use the open string to your advantage - a pull-off to the open string can speed up your playing, and make it sound flashy with very little effort - result! You could try 3,0 5,0 7,0 for example. A pull-off is when you create a second note by flicking your finger off the string rather than striking it again. In theory, this can literally double the speed with very little effort.
  • As Em is the relative minor in the key of G, you could also use it for any song in G : songs that use the chords G, C and D7.

Reading guitar tab

Here are the basics of reading tab - each line represents a string, with string 1, the thinnest at the top, string 6, the thickest at the bottom.

The numbers give you the fret position for each note.

Although reading tab is time well spent, it's not vital to sight read it. Much easier to memorize it as you go.

Pentatonic scales for guitar

More pentatonic scales

Next example is Am pentatonic, probably the most common rock guitar scale, and then A pentatonic, which is very common in country and country rock songs. Note that the scale pattern is exactly the same, you just move it to the right place on the neck for the key you are playing in.

  • Am pentatonic can be used for any song in C, the relative major key. If you want to have a simple rule, Am and C are essentially the same key. Am typically uses E7, and C uses Em, but mostly the set of chords is the same.
  • A typical chord progression would be Am, G, F, G - as in the coda to Stairway To Heaven and All along the Watchtower, which are very similar.
  • A pentatonic can be used for the key of A, or any song that uses A, D and E7. Generally any country song will use a major pentatonic, and any blues song will use a minor pentatonic. It's partly what gives the style its identity.
  • From this you can see that any major and minor pentatonic scales are just 3 frets away from each other, up or down the neck. From A major to A minor is a shift up the neck of 3 frets. This rule works for any key.
  • This box pattern is one of five linked patterns that cover the whole neck of the guitar for each key - more info in my other hub on lead guitar. Learning this pattern first is a good idea, and then you can build on it.
  • Here is an approach that works for me, both for improvising and learning melody lines: use the pentatonic scale but then add the missing two notes from the major scale back in when needed. You can also add any of the chromatic notes (non scale notes) on the way to a strong chord tone.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)