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The Minor Pentatonic Guitar Scale

Updated on July 5, 2011

What is the Pentatonic Guitar Scale

The pentatonic guitar scale is a five note scale that is an abbreviated version of either the major or minor scale. The major and minor scales have seven notes or tones. The pentatonic guitar scale only uses the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th notes of these scales. By eliminating the second and sixth note, the pentatonic scale is much easier to use because all five of the notes sound good. There is no bad note to use. This has made the pentatonic scale the most commonly used with guitar players when improvising.

Pattern 1 of the Minor Pentatonic Scale

Learning the Pentatonic scale

We will be discussing the minor pentatonic as this is the most common one used. There are five different patterns in all that make it possible to cover the entire neck of the guitar in any key. I highly recommend learning one pattern thoroughly before moving on to the next one. You will just confuse yourself if you try to take on to much at the same time. The first and most often used pattern to learn is shown in the diagram. The root note, which is indicated by the hollow circles will determine what key you are playing in. For example, if you wanted to play in the key of A minor, then you would start this pattern on the fifth fret of the sixth string because that note is an A. The seventh fret of the sixth string is a B, so if you started the pattern there you would be playing in B minor.

Pattern 1 in A minor

A minor Pentatonic

      The video to the right shows pattern 1 starting on the fifth fret. This would be in the key of A minor.

Patterns 2 and 3 of the Minor Pentatonic

Patterns 2 and 3

Here are the next two patterns of the minor pentatonic. As before, the hollow circles indicate the root note.

Patterns 4 and 5

Patterns 4 and 5

   These are the last two patterns for the minor pentatonic. Learn all five of these patterns one at a time. Practice these patterns forward and backward. Play them in different keys. You will notice that these patterns all overlap with the next one. Once you learn all five you will be able to play anywhere on the guitar neck in any key. This will take a little while, but practice these daily and you'll be there before you know it.

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