Pentatonic Scales - The Pentatonic Minor Scale

Welcome to the pentatonic minor scale lesson. This scale is often called the "blues scale" but we will stay away from that name because many people seem to have different ideas of what is or isn't the blues scale. This scale is a fairly simple introduction to scales and how scales work. It is a very commonly used scale and can be found in many popular songs, especially in classic rock, blues, hard rock, and more. Because this scale is so commonly used it is the perfect scale for you to start with.

Playing The Pentatonic Minor Scale

The pentatonic minor scale is a five (5) note scale (penta meaning five like in pentagon, and tonic meaning tone). So a pentatonic scale is a "five tone scale". There are five (5) positions to learn in a pentatonic scale. (If you do not know what a "position" is refer to the terms page.) We will learn all five positions of this scale and where they should be played on your guitar.

First, we will choose the key that we will play the scale in. For simplicity, in this course we will learn most scales in the key of E, and then discuss transposing them to different keys later.

E pentatonic minor will be the pentatonic minor scale played in the key of E, which means E will be our root note. That means that the whole scale and the way you use it will be centered around the E note. We will cover that in much more detail when we get to "phrasing". For now, in the diagram below you will see the entire E Pentatonic Minor scale shown as it will look on your guitar neck (bass players would only have the bottom 4 strings). The notes you would play are marked with red dots, and the "root notes" (E notes) are marked as red dots with yellow dots in the center.

Pentatonic Minor - Key Of E

This is the full pentatonic minor scale in the key of E. We will break it down into seperate "positions" in the next lesson. After that we will move into "phrasing" and start to solo with it, or jam some great walking bass lines if you are a bass player.

Recommended Books On The Pentatonics

  • pentatonic_scales_guitar (5K)Pentatonic Scales for Guitar : The Essential Guide (With CD) - This book provides the pentatonic scale fingerings, diagrams, lessons and licks that every guitarist needs to know. It covers major and minor pentatonic scale patterns in all positions; licks in the styles of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and many other great artists. The CD includes 90 full-band demos for listening and/or play-along. The book is in standard notation and tablature.

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