Every blues guitarist must have a firm grasp on the Minor Pentatonic Scale so I thought it would be a good idea to do an in-depth series covering the scale and each of the 5 pentatonic scale patterns on the guitar. In the first part of the series I will explain exactly what the minor pentatonic scale is and show you the first pattern.
How I Approach Learning Guitar Scales
- Because it lays out so well on the guitar fretboard I like to learn a scale in the key of G. Once I learn it in G then I work on playing it in different keys. So the fretboard charts in this tutorial are all in the key of G.
- I see the guitar fretboard according to CAGED theory. If you don’t know what that is take a look at The CAGED Guitar System before you read any further.
- Learning a scale is just the first step. Turning it into music is another thing. Be sure to check out 16 Steps to Guitar Mastery.
What Is The Minor Pentatonic Scale?
The word pentatonic literally means “five” (penta) “tones” (tonic). A pentatonic scale is one that contains only 5 notes. Actually there are many pentatonic scales, but the most common are the minor and major pentatonic scales. The 5 notes of the minor pentatonic scale are: R – ♭3 – 4 – 5 – ♭7. So in the key of G the notes are G – b♭ – C – D – F. For more on what all this means be sure to subscribe to 100blueslicks.com and get the free Blues Rules course. Check the sidebar of this page. The first pattern of the scale is the E form (see the CAGED Guitar post link under “How I Approach Learning Guitar Scales).
Get Started Playing The Minor Pentatonic Scale
In the 3rd position, that is with your 1st finger at the 3rd fret, Play each note from the lowest to the highest and back again. Following a rule of one finger per fret, play the notes on the 6th fret with your 4th finger, and play the notes on the 5th fret with your 3rd finger. Also, be sure to alternate your pick. The first note should be an upstroke and the then a downstroke and so on. Here’s the guitar tab and video:
Once you start to get familiar with the pattern, set your metronome (you do have one don’t you?) at a moderate tempo, around 70 beats per minute, and try to play each note in time. For more details on learning guitar scales, including a printable chart of the minor pentatonic scale covering the entire fretboard, be sure to subscribe and get your free Blues Rules guitar course.
Make Music With The Minor Pentatonic Scale
The E Form of the minor pentatonic scale is probably the most commonly used of the 5 patterns on the guitar. Here are here are a couple sample licks in guitar tab to get you started: