Guitar Lesson 5 – Guitar Pentatonic Scale – Minor And Major

Hello friends! Our course has finally came to improvisation. Pentatonic scales are easiest way to do that. Guitar pentatonics is the basic and most popular way to play simple melody, improvise or playing fast repeating licks. It’s so easy and it’s mainly first thing that every player learns to play. It’s next interesting topic in guitar basics.

Today’s lesson is related to most simple way of improvisation. We’ll learn more about it, how it’s played, where it can be found and what to do with it. The main accent today will be dedicated to:

  • What is pentatonic?
  • Major and minor pentatonic;
  • Basic boxes (patterns);
  • How it can be used!

Let’s begin now! The time is valuable 🙂

Guitar pentatonic scale

This is the simplest way to play and improvise. It’s the scale that consists of only 5 notes. the second and sixth extends are skipped. Major and minor scales basically consists of 7 notes (white keys, sharps and flats), but pentatonic scale is built from 5 notes. It’s like a universal point of major and minor where you can play simple melody and you won’t be out of tune.

So, it is most simple way to play all over the guitar fretboard and you won’t fall out of tune. This is the first scale that new musicians get to know while learning the guitar.

You can use it every time when you want to play simple melody or easy licks. It’s perfect for fast repeating licks, riffs, rock licks and simple blues improvisation.

As an example we’ll take Am pentatonics and see how it looks on the whole fretboard. Am is most popular, because it covers major part of the fretboard. These are basic guitar pentatonic scale patterns (5), and there’re used to improvise in any place of the neck.

5 pentatonic patterns

Take a look and try to memorize and understand all patterns. Every pattern starts with different notes and the whole scale consists of the same notes. It doesn’t matter if you play from 5th or 12th or 15th fret on low E string – you’ll be in Am pentatonic scale. It will fit in to the Am chord of in key of Am. It won’t be out of tune.

Example 1


Play Am chord and play some simple licks on all 5 patterns. Play something of 2, 3 or 4 notes. It doesn’t matter what you play. Try to listen like it “fits” in the chord of Am. First play the chord and something from 1st pattern, then play that chord again and play some licks from 2nd pattern and so on. Playing right notes of the scales will make your playing “fit” in Am chord. Doing this example will help you open new ideas and places on all fretboard for simple melodies and licks. It’s much interesting then playing along in the 1st pattern only.

Example 2

Play 5th (A string) of the guitar and play the same simple licks in all patterns and try to listen how they all “fit” in the sound A string. This is simple example, but it really helps to expand your sight on many places of the guitar.

The best way to learn the guitar is reading additional materials and playing given examples. This is the best way because it allows memorizing better everything you read. Your learning becomes much more effective.

Ok, now we know all 5 A minor patterns. What’s next? What more can we do with it?

We can change it and make it sound like C major.

Relative C major pentatonic scale

Every minor has relative major scale. It’s also can be called parallel scale.

In the key of A minor we can definitely play and improvise by using relative scale. In this case we can do it in C major.

Here’re 5 patterns of C major pentatonic scale:

c major pentatonic patterns

Look how it’s similar to the all A minor patterns. It’s the same notes and the same structure of scales. The difference is that C major starts from 8th fret of the low E string and that’s the first pattern (in the Am that is second one!). All other patterns and notes are the same. Major patterns also can be played from major second (guitar intervals), but it doesn’t really matter. The main note here is C as root.

It even can’t be really figured out what you play when using Am and relative C major. Best of all is to highlight every C note in the C major to “tell the audience” what scale you’re using. Highlight C note and sometimes highlight A note. That way you’ll make your playing more attracting because C in the key of Am sounds very interesting like it causes “to think of something”.

Example: Try to play the same Am chord and play solo of C major in all 5 patterns. Highlight every C note in your playing. Listen how “stands out” of all notes and how it makes music more interesting.

The last but not least thing to say is that it can be extended. Here’s the same Am “extended” version. It starts from 3rd fret of the low E string and ends up to 12th fret of high E string. This is used at most in playing and it allows dilate in many places of the guitar. It consists of 1st, 2nd and 5th position patterns.

am extended pentatonic

That’s it about pentatonics. It’s very simple way to play and act like millions of guitar players in the World. To become more interesting and “catch the audience” you need to build your music from simple scales to complicated ones.

For example you’ll become a little bit better player if you’ll combine minor and relative major and also scales. That way you’ll show something interesting.

For conclusion, here’s the main topic of today’s lesson

Today we’ve covered “starting point” of the improvisation and simple way to play simple solo melodies. We learned that:

  • Pentatonic is the scale;
  • It’s built of 5 notes;
  • It’s built of 5 patterns which cover whole fretboard;
  • It’s simple way to improvise;
  • It’s build from the same notes in minor and major;

Ok, next time we’ll cover major and minor scales which will open new ideas to combine covered in this guitar basics course.

See you next time!

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