I see loads of questions asking for guidance on the pentatonic scale so I wanted to make this guide as detailed and understandable as possible.
I totally understand that some people don’t want to learn theory – if that’s you it won’t take long to get through the first couple of paragraphs and you might know this stuff already so don’t be put off.
Firstly, let’s understand what a pentatonic scale is.
Well, as you might know, there are 12 musical notes in total. They go from A to G#, with every note having a sharp (a black key on the piano) EXCEPT FOR B AND E.
These notes are equally spaced from one another and the distance of each interval is a semi-tone or half-step.
In major and minor scales we have 7 notes. We’ve essentially whittled down the full spectrum of 12 notes to just 7 that are harmonically related – in other words they sound good together.
Exactly the same is true of the Pentatonic Scales, but we have whittled the 12 notes down to just 5.
Let’s start with the full minor scale of A. Don’t stop reading if you hate theory – this will only take a second and it’s super easy (as long as you know your alphabet up to G!)
The scale of A minor has no sharp or flat notes. So it goes like this:
Pretty easy right? Now let’s remove 2 more notes to make our Minor Pentatonic Scale. The notes we remove are notes 2 & 6. So we’re left with the following:
So this is all great in theory but how does it correlate with guitar playing? Why don’t we look at the shape for this scale on the guitar and correlate it with the theory above.
If you’re not sure how to read guitar TABs then have a quick read of this tutorial!
As you can see above, the fingering is relatively simple. Once you’ve got the hang of it have a go at playing it from right to left to learn the scale in a descending motion.
Get creative with it – this scale is great for Pop, Rock, Blues and even Funky guitar lines and it’s really useful for coming up with melodies or guitar solos!
Once you feel a little more comfortable with it, check out our posts for some more helpful tips, scales and exercises to seriously boost your playing!
Thanks for reading!