The minor pentatonic scale is one of the most widely used scales for soloing and improvising on guitar. A combination of simple to learn shapes along with scale tones that easily fit over chord progressions make the minor pentatonic scale an incredibly effective scale for soloing with.
There are a few different ways of playing the scale. We will look at a system that uses 5 shapes for the scale, covering the whole guitar neck.
What is The Minor Pentatonic Scale?
Pentatonic is latin for “5 tones”, or, “5 notes”. The minor pentatonic scale, is a minor scale, made up of 5 notes:
1 b3 4 5 b7
As you can see, most of these notes are chord tones from a minor 7 chord, with the addition of the 4th.
If we were to play the scale in the key of A, creating A minor pentatonic, we would get the notes:
1 b3 4 5 b7
A C D E G
So, let’s look at creating some scale patterns with these notes:
Playing A Minor Pentatonic
Each position with have three diagrams:
- A basic scale diagram
- A scale diagram with the fingers you should use for each note
- A tab to help you get started playing through the scale
If you want some ideas on how to learn the scales more thoroughly, you can read my article on learning scales on guitar.
Learning the Minor Pentatonic Scale
You want to memorise all these shapes, and also try them out in different keys. Make sure you learn the patterns in the neck diagrams, and you don’t just play the tab – relate the tab to the diagram as you play through it.
Like I outline in the guitar lesson on learning scales, there are 6 steps to learning these scales:
- Memorise the scales
- Sing along to the scale as you play it
- Play sequences through the scales
- Memorise where the root notes are
- Practice playing the scale from the root notes
- Improvise with the scale
Here is a short guide on how to improvise on guitar with these scales (great for beginners!).
Once you’ve done that, you could play around with integrating these scales with arpeggios – that is a fun skill and always sounds great!
You can also add a single note and turn these patterns into the blues scale, which gives the pentatonic sale a slight twist.
If you want some more advanced scales you can try, then check out these 8 different neoclassical scales.
Overall, the minor pentatonic scale is an essential scale to learn on guitar, and you will have a lot of fun with it!