as you will have understood from the title, today we will talk about the guitar pentatonic scales. In this post I will try to explain what they are and how to play them on the guitar. Generally the pentatonic scales often find themselves in blues and rock, and beginners are taught for their simplicity of learning and execution. It is usually the first type of scale with which you begin to improvise. The minor pentatonic is often also used in metal, rock and jazz, while the major pentatonic is more used in country, pop, pop rock.
What are the pentatonic scales
The major and minor pentatonic scales. As the name implies, are nothing but derivatives or if you prefer simplifications of the relative major and minor natural scales and do not contain semitones. In fact the major pentatonic is obtained by removing the fourth and the seventh note from the natural minor scale. The same thing is done with the minor, but removing the second and sixth. Logically, in order not to have jarring harmonic progressions it is necessary to combine certain chord progressions.
The ductility of the pentatonic scales lies in the fact that the guitarist will be free to play on any key. The pentatonic scales have 5 shapes or modes. These are represented by the famous boxes (see below couple of example). It will be enough to position themselves on the tonic note (root) situated in the first or sixth string and from there starting improvising on the relative box. In this way it will be possible to pass from one box to another, moving along the entire neck.
The Minor Pentatonic
The scales, are built on a minor natural scale but without the second and sixth grades: the notes are the same as the “major” pentatonic built on the relative major scale. The Minor Pentatonic scale is built in following the following musical intervals:
– (perfect) unison
– minor third
– perfect fourth
– perfect fifth
– minor seventh
The Major Pentatonic
The Major Pentatonic like the one with a major third among the first three sounds is very similar to the classical major scale, but without the fourth and seventh grade. The scale is built in following the following musical intervals:
– (perfect) unison
– major second
– major third
– perfect fifth
– major sixth
How to play the pentatonic scales on the guitar
Now it’s time to practice: how to play the pentatonic scale on the neck.
It is possible to play it from eight or nine different positions.
We can start either from the third fret on the fifth string, or from the first fret on the second, but also from the fifth fret on the third string, or again on the eighth fret on the first and sixth string.
In the final part of the neck there are also the scales on the tenth fret, thirteenth and fifteenth but with the thinning of the frets in these positions it is undoubtedly necessary a greater practice given the difficulty in playing in positions so narrow.
Also the pentatonic scale of G, can start from the third string played in void, or the third fret on the two E strings. As in the case of C, also on the G we can start from the fifth fret, eighth and tenth, as well as from the twelfth and fifteenth.
The pentatonic scale in the key of D also has the possibility of starting from the open string, as well as from D on the second string to the third fret, or on the fifth string to the fifth fret or again to the seventh fret on the third string.
The pentatonic scale of A, at the beginning of the handle, has a double possibility: either the fifth open string or, alternatively, the A on the third string at the second fret.
Two A scales can find at the fifth fret on the first and sixth string, as well as the seventh fret on the fourth string, the tenth on the second, the twelfth on the fifth and the fourteenth on the third.
The E can start immediately with two empty strings. From the second fret on the fourth string, to the fifth fret on the second, to the seventh fret on the fifth, to the ninth fret on the third, to the twelfth fret on the two empty strings and to the fourteenth fret, always on the fourth.
The pentatonic scale of B instead can start from the fifth string on the second fret or from the second empty string. From the fourth fret on the third string, but also from the two B to the seventh fret.
In the final part of the handle, we find the B on the ninth fret on the fourth string, on the twelfth fret on the second and on the fourteenth on the fifth.
The last pentatonic is that of F #, which can start from the two F # to the second fret, or from the one to the fourth fret on the fourth string, or to the seventh fret on the second.
In the final part of the neck, the pentatonic can start from the ninth fret on the fifth string. From the eleventh fret on the third and from the two F # to the twelfth fret on the first and on the sixth string.
Lot of words, now let’s start to work!
In the last paragraph I have briefly described where to find the various sclaes on the neck. I agree that it may seem confusing. For this reason I would like to suggest a couple of very exhaustive texts (I put the link below) that I used personally. As an alternative to texts and speaking of guitar 2.0, you can also find many online courses dedicated to pentatonic scales, by clicking here you will find one of my favorites.
I hope you enjoyed this post too