After you learn some chords, and get good at strumming. Now you want to play some solo’s like your favorite Rock star. Your probably thinking “where to start”. That’s why I have created the ultimate guide to the 5 pentatonic Scales.
Maybe your wondering what the beginner guitar 5 pentatonic Scales are. The beginner guitar 5 pentatonic Scales are 5 individual Scales. Which each Scale has five tones. This Scale can be found in a lot different music. Souch as Native American, Far eastern, African, And 20th century compositions.
To learn how to solo using the pentatonic Scale is pretty easy. It’s like everything starting out. When your learning something new. It may seem harder than it is. Once you know the fundamentals. You will realize how simple it is. If you want to learn the 5 pentatonic Scales then read this ultimate guide. Get on the fast track to playing a solo.
What are the pentatonic Scales ?
As previously mentioned the pentatonic Scale is based on 5 tones. Penta means 5 and tonic is the root or one. There are 5 tones in this scale. Once you learn the scale in major or minor. You can play a solo in every single key.
Once you know the Major pentatonic scale and the minor pentatonic scale you can play every melody that is in either a Major or minor key.
When you see someone soloing it looks so easy and it is mind blowing what they are doing. But you too can create a mind blowing solo once you learn the scales.
Once you know the 5 forms you can improvise all over songs.
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Form one of the Pentatonic Scale in A
Start on the 5th fret of the 6th string. The thickest string. Place your finger there and pluck the 6th string. Using your pinkie, then play the 8th fret of the 6th string. So it’s Frets 5 – 8 on the 6th string.
Now we are on the 5th string. The second string from the top. We want to play frets 5 and 7. Using fingers 1 and 3.
Then on the third string you are playing the 5th and 7th fret again. Come down a string to the 2nd string and play the 5th fret and the 8th fret. Played with your first finger and pinkie.
Here’s what the first pattern or form of the pentatonic scale looks like when it’s tabbed out.
A good way to rememober this “box” for form one or Pattern one. Is “8,777,88. That’s just one way to remember. If you practice going from the 6th string down. Go slow, your not trying to win a race. You want to do two things. One is remember where the pattern is.
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Not only remember the form, but play the note properly when your playing the note. So take your time when practicing and make sure the note is ringing out, and sounds good.
When you get the the bottom of the scale. Start back up from string one. Start 8 – 5, then 8 – 5 on the 2nd string. Next play 7 – 5 on the 3rd string, and so on. Until you make your way back to the 6th string.
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What’s great about the Pentatonic Scale?
It’s like a lot of things on the guitar. You can move everything up or down the neck. When you do this you are playing in another key. To learn the notes, and what key your in. Check out this Post 11 tips for learning the gutiar notes.
If I take that same scale form one. That you see above, and I move it up two frets. It is still the 1st pattern of the pentatonic scale. Because we are going to play the same form.
We are playing in a new key. Playing the same pattern up two frets. You are now playing the first pattern of B pentatonic scale. Which starts on the 7th fret.
Lets go from the 5th fret which we already determined is the A. From there lets go down two frets. We still want to play the same form. Now your playing the 1st form of the G pentatonic scale. Which the frets would be marked accordingly.
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Another thing that’s great about the pentatonic scale. Is you can use it in just about any chord progression. Which allows you to play over any chords. Once you know the scales.
For example if you are playing an Am chord progression. Which is Am F C G, lets say. You could play the Am pentatonic form 1 over the top of it. If you stay in the form it will sound great.
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How to know the Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern
There are a few things to know. In order to play over the top of the chords. That is to make it sound good.
- Know the Key of the Song
- If it’s Major or minor
What ever key your in is where your first finger is going to start. So if the song is in A minor. (Am) Then you start with your first finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string. The reason is the 5th fret of the 6th string is the A note. That is the root note.
If you are playing a B minor (Bm) then you start out on with your first finger on the 7th fret. The root note is a B. The rest of the scale is going to be the same pattern 1. That we learned earlier.
Finding the Major Pentatonic Scale
To play the same form in the Major pentatonic scale. Just use your pinkie first. I know that sounds to easy to be true. But that’s it! When you are playing the A minor pentatonic form 1. Your root of the scale is A which is played with your first finger.
You start the Am scale on the 5th fret of the 6th string. If we want to play the C Major pentatonic. The root of the scale is the C. Where is the C note the root note on the scale? It is where your pinkie is.
Instead of you starting on the 5th fret. You start on the 8th fret. When you have a song that is played in the key of C. Then playing the same pattern, but starting on the C instead of the A.
Also playing around the C note more than the A and ending on the C. Makes the same notes Major. Makes it sound Major too.
In music there is a “relative minor”, for every major there is a relative minor
Let’s take another example of this. Now you have a chord progression in G flat minor. (Gbm) To find the Gbm you just move up 3 frets from the A. Play the same scale over the chord progression. You will be sounding like a rock star before you know it.
By knowing the notes on the fretboard it will unlock the guitar neck for you. To play over any song, is easy once you know if the song is in a Major key or a minor key. If its in a Major key start by using your pinkie. If it’s in a minor key find the Root note, and start soloing. Click the link to see the video. Pattern 1 of the pentatonic scale.
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Pattern 2 of the Pentatonic Scale
Now that your getting the grasp of pattern 1 lets continue, and learn pattern two out of the five patterns.
The patterns connect together. Since we are focusing on the Am Pentatonic scale. The second pattern starts on the 8th fret. Here is what is looks like.
When you play the second form it is easiest to start the 8th fret with your first finger. Then play the 10th fret with your fourth finger. Go up a string to the 5th string. slide up a little on the neck of the guitar. Play the 7th fret with your first finger, and the 10th fret with your pinkie.
Continue to the 4th string using the same fingers. When you get to the 3rd string change it up.
Like I said they start where the other one leaves off. Here are both forms together, form one and form two.
When your practice scale pattern 2 start on the 6th string and work your way down. When you get to the first string work your way back up the strings. Go backwards when you are on the first string start with the 10th fret then 8. Next string 9th fret 7th fret and so on. Continue until you get back to the first string.
Practicing the scales for about ten minutes every time you pick the guitar up to practice will get you memorizing the patterns. It might be a little tedious in the beginning. But it will become second nature to you. You will know the scales.
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Even once you have the first form under your belt. Get a song to practice playing over. When you first start you might practice going up and down that pattern 1.
As long as you stay in the form in the key that the song is in then it will sound great. But don’t just go up and down the pattern. That will make it sound robotic. Mix it up a little.
This is where it becomes fun. You can ad lib. If you really can hear the melody. Try to play the melody using the scale. The more you play you will be tuned in with your ear, and able to play the notes. See the Video for pattern 2 of the Pentatonic Scale.
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Pattern 3 of the Pentatonic Scale
Pattern 3 of the pentatonic scale goes like this. The 2nd pattern ended on the 10th fret. The scales are connected. This means that the 3rd pattern starts on the 10th fret. Then it goes to the 12th fret. Here’s a link to the Video of the 3rd Pattern of the Pentatonic Scale. After watching keep reading!
Next is 10th fret then the 13th fret. 9th fret 12th fret on the 4th fret. Next is the 3rd string, and you play the 10th fret, then the 12th fret. Play the same frets on the 2nd string. Then on the first string you play frets 10 and 12.
When you get to the first string start back up the strings. Starting at the 12th fret on the first string. Then play the 10th fret. Next go to the second string and play the 12th fret. Continue up the strings until you get to the 6th string. After you know this pattern backwards and inside out lets look at the 4th pattern.
To get the free PDF Click the Link for the 5 patterns of the Pentatonic Scale.
The fourth Pattern of the Pentatonic Scale
Ok if you have learned the first 3 patterns of the pentatonic scale. Your well on your way to mastering soloing.
Playing Pattern 4 of the Pentatonic
If you look at some of the “Great Guitarists” of all time. Like Stevie Ray Vaughn or Erich Clapton. They are playing the Blues Scale. Which is Simular to the Pentatonic Scale. But they are using Pattern 1 and 2 for a majority of there songs. There is so much to gleam from those two patterns.
Pattern 4 of the scale has some new incites. Here is how to play it. The fourth pattern starts on the 12th fret. Then it goes to the 15th fret.This same combo is played on the 5th fret. On the 4th String you play on the 12th and 14th fret. Then on the 3rd string your playing the 12th and 14th fret. Going down one string to the 3rd fret. You play the 13th and 15th fret. Then on the 1st string play the 12th & 15th fret.
Click to see the video of the 4th pattern of the Pentatonic scale here.
How to Play the 5th Pattern of the Pentatonic Scale
We Finally got to the 5th pattern of the 5th pattern of the scale. Here’s how to play it. First finger is on the 15th fret of the guitar.
If you are playing on an acoustic guitar it might be a little hard to get to the 15th fret. So lets start this on the 3rd fret. The first two strings are at the 3rd and 5th fret. That’s strings 6 and 5. Then on strings 4 and 3 the notes are found on the 2nd and 5th fret. Then on strings 2 and 1 we play frets 3 & 5.
The fingers you are using are the first and third. On strings 1 and 2. Then on strings 3 and 4 use fingers one and four, On the 2nd and the 3rd strings use fingers one and four. To get the job done.
Here is what the fourth pattern looks like.
Click this link to get PDF of all 5 scales to practice with.
For your information the pentatonic scale is constructed of a whole step, 3 half steps, whole step, whole step, And 3 half steps . Which in the key of C is: C D F G A C.
If this foreign to you don’t worry you don’t need to know all that to play the scales. Practice one scale at a time. Then incorporate it into playing over songs. It won’t be long until you are playing melodies to the songs, and soloing.
What are the 5 notes of the Pentatonic Scale
The pentatonic scale can be played up and down the neck of the guitar. Which means it can be played in different keys. The scale has 5 notes in it. The notes are different depending on what key you are playing in.
Below is a list of the notes in the keys.
- Am – A C D E G
- B – A B D E F#
- C – A C D E G
- D – A C D E F
- E – A B D E G
- F – Eb F C Bb Ab
- G – Bb C D F G
- G# – G# B C# D# F#
- F# – F# A B C# E
- A# – A# C# D# E# G#
- D# – D# F# G# A# C#
What order should I learn the Pentatonic Sclale?
Start with the first pattern in the pentatonic scale. Learn in from the 5th string down and then back up the strings. Starting with the 8th fret then go to the 5th fret and so on. On each string.
Then after you are able to play pattern one inside and out. Start pattern two. Learn it without thinking about it. Then continue to the rest of the patterns.
Make it fun! Once you know the first pattern. Practice playing with a song. Learn the melody or improvise over the chords. When you feel you know the first pattern start to practice the second pattern. In the same way improvise then move on to the next form.
How Many Pentatonic Scales are there?
There are 5 notes in the pentatonic scale. There is the Major Pentatonic Scale and the minor pentatonic Scale. Both consist of 5 notes. Each having 5 forms,
So technically there is the minor pentatonic scale, and the Major pentatonic scale. They both share the same notes, but the root is a different note. For instance the Am pentatonic scale, and the C Major pentatonic scale both share the same notes. The A C D E G notes.
The root of the Am Pentatonic is A. Where as the Root note of the C major pentatonic is C.