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Pentatonic scale

The pentatonic scale is a simple five-note scale that has many applications across musical genres.
In this lesson, you learn to play it in moveable shapes across the guitar.

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pentatonic scaleTake a look at the set of notes at the left. This is a pentatonic scale since it has only five different notes: G, B, E, A, and D. This scale is the E minor pentatonic or the G major pentatonic scale.
This particular boxlike shape is convenient because it’s so easy to memorize. (Notice that this first scale uses all of the open strings. This is not the case for all pentatonic scales.) This scale has two great applications. First, it is used in the key of G Major or E minor to create a smooth, consonant scale sound. In other words, if the home chord is G, you can use the scale to play over these basic chords.

 

blues pentatonic scale

 

 

 

G-minor-pentatonic-scaleSecond, you can shift the scale shape up three frets to get a bluesier sound over the key of G. This scale is the G minor pentatonic scale.

Now your notes are G, Bb, C, D, and F.

 

 

 

Blues pentatonic scale

blues-pentatonic-scaleYou can add one more note, called the “blue note,” to create an even funkier, more dissonant sound. This scale is the blues scale.

The blues scale is called a moveable scale since it can be moved up or down depending on the key. Here is the G blues scale.

What follows is a table that shows what chords and pentatonic scales can be used on each major key. For example, if you’re in the key of C, the most likely chords are C, Dm, Em, F, G, and Am. You can also use Bb and Eb for blues or heavier rock, and also D or D7 for pop (the diminished chord of B is rare in modern pop, so we won’t use it here.)

A-minor-pentatonic-scaleThere are three basic scale choices available in C. One is the major pentatonic scale, where your first finger is on the 5th fret, your third finger plays the 7th fret, and the fourth finger plays the 8th fret. This scale over these chords gives a melodic, consonant sound. You may hear musicians refer to this as sounding “in.”

 

 

 

Minor pentatonic scale

 

C-minor-pentatonic-scale

The second is the minor pentatonic scale, where your first finger is on the 8th fret, your third finger plays the 10th fret, and the 4th finger plays the 11th fret. This scale over these chords gives a darker, dissonant sound. You may hear musicians refer to this as sounding out.”

 

 

 

C-blues-scale

The third is the C blues scale, which looks like the minor pentatonic scale, with an extra note called the “blue note” of F#/G% which makes the scale even darker and more dissonant. Again, this table shows what chords and pentatonic scales we can use on each major key.

What follows is a table that shows what chords and pentatonic scales we can use on each minor key. For example, if you’re in the key of Am, the most likely chords are Am, C, Dm, Em, E7, F, and G. (The diminished chord of Bo is rare in modern pop, so we won’t use it here.)

C-major-or-A-minor-pentatonic-scaleThere are two scales that are commonly used. The first is the minor pentatonic scale, where your first finger is on the 5th fret, your third finger plays the 7th fret, and the fourth finger plays the 8th fret. This
scale over these chords gives a melodic, consonant sound on a minor chord. Notice that this is the same scale that we use over the key of C Major. This is because the two keys are very closely related. In fact, they are referring to as relative major and minor scales.

 

A-blues-scaleThe second is the A blues scale, which looks like the minor pentatonic scale, with an extra note called the “blue note” of D#/Eb, which makes the scale even darker and more dissonant

 

 

 

 

Pentatonic-scale-start-on-frets

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