Fun with Pentatonics

The pentatonic scale is a versatile and easy scale to practice. It’s a great scale for learning how to improvise and compose as well and for ‘jamming’.

What is the Pentatonic Scale

It is a five-note scale (in Greek Pente=five and Tonic=note). Though there are a number of different five-note (pentatonic) scales we will focus here on the minor and major pentatonic.

Minor Pentatonic

The formula for this scale is as follows:

minor 3rd – tone – tone  – minor third –  tone

Eg E minor Pentatonic = E – G – A – C – D

This forms a popular pattern on the guitar that incorporates all of the open strings in the first position as shown here:


You can paly any other pentatonic scale by deciding on a starting note on the 6th string and then using this pattern, for example G minor pentatonic:


Major Pentatonic

The formula for major pentatonic is:

tone – tone – – minor third –  tone – minor 3rd

Eg G – A – C – D – E

Here is the scale pattern in the first position

and if you start on the 6th string:

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