Minor Pentatonic Scale

  • Diagram on the right shows the 5 scale patterns in the key of C.

  • The red dots mark the Root of the scale, which is C.

  • This is the most popular and easiest scale that you can play on the guitar, and you should learn it!

  • It has 5 notes per octave. This is why it is called PENTAtonic.

  • You can play this scale over any blues or rock progression in the same key. It has an aggressive character, and sounds great clean or with distortion.

  • If we name the scale steps of this scale, they are: 1, minor 3, 4, 5, and minor 7.
    The 1, 3, 5 and 7 are very strong chord tones, so you can play them confidently, and it will sound good.
    The 4 is the only note that doesn't sound very strong or resolved, but you can always bend it up to to the 5.
    The fact that 4 out of 5 notes in this scale are strong is what makes it so popular and easy to learn.

  • It is used in many styles of music, but is especially popular in rock and blues.

  • Players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton all know and use this scale.

  • It is an easy scale to learn, because it uses simple patterns that are easy to remember.

  • Learn these patterns one by one, and then practice playing them up and down.

  • As you become more comfortable with each of the 5 patterns, connect them together by playing from one pattern going up or down into the next pattern.

  • Eventually connect all the 5 patterns together - and go up and down the neck playing the scale.

  • Make up your own ways to play this scale, and have fun with it!

  • You want to start making melodies and phrases with this scale, and not just play it up and down.

  • Play the scale with many different rhythms and speeds.

  • Other notes can later be added or changed in this scale to create different "flavours".

  • It is a good approach to treat these 5 scale patterns as reference points for other scales in the future. For example the dorian and aeolian modes of the major scale each add 2 notes to the minor pentatonic. So, when learning new 7-note scales, you can just learn where the 2 extra notes are, and use your existing pattern knowledge, to accelerate your memorization.

  • 5 patterns of the Minor Pentatonic Scale

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