Pentatonic Guitar Scales

Author: Ed Cupler

Pentatonic guitar scales

Pentatonic scales are five-note scales widely used in various styles of music, particularly in blues, rock, and metal. The term “pentatonic” is derived from the Greek words penta, meaning five, and tonos, meaning tone. There are two main types of pentatonic scales: major and minor.

Major Pentatonic Scale:

  • Root, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th degrees of the major scale.
  • In the key of C major, the notes would be C, D, E, G, A.

Minor Pentatonic Scale:

  • Root, flat 3rd, 4th, 5th, flat 7th degrees of the natural minor scale.
  • In the key of A minor, the notes would be A, C, D, E, G.

Pentatonic guitar scales in A minor and the C major pentatonic guitar scales are the two scales discussed in this guitar lesson. My reason for this is that these scales are derived from the same C major scale as used in the Guitar Scale Modes lesson. The difference is instead of seven notes used in the C major scale (C D E F G A B), the pentatonic scale only uses five notes (C D E G A), the 4th note (F) and the 7th note (B) notes are removed. See below:

Guitar neck with the 7 notes from the C-Major scale. The gold notes are removed for the C major pentatonic guitar scale

C Major scale notes with notes to be removed for the Pentatonic scale highlighted - guitar neck diagram

5 Notes Of The C major pentatonic guitar scale

Pentatonic scale notes - guitar neck diagram - C- Major scale

The patterns for both the A minor and C major pentatonic scales are illustrated in example #1. Although only two scale patterns are demonstrated, I would encourage using all of the 5 notes throughout the length of the guitar neck.

Pentatonic example #1

Pentatonic C-Major Scale

Guitar neck diagram with Pentatonic Scale C-Major

Pentatonic A-Minor Scale

Guitar neck diagram with Pentatonic Scale A-Minor

Pentatonic example #2

A Minor Guitar ChordThe major pentatonic scale is often used in rock, metal and country. The A minor pentatonic scale, specifically, sounds great over chord progressions in A minor. Here’s how the scale sounds against an A minor chord.

A minor pentatonic scale - tablature

Pentatonic example #3

Chord chart C MajorThe major pentatonic scale is often used in rock, metal and country. The C major pentatonic scale, specifically, sounds great over chord progressions in C major. Here’s how the scale sounds against a C major chord.

C Major Pentatonic scale - tablature

For more on the Pentatonic minor scale, please visit “Pentatonic Minor Scale“.

Visit Jamplay for guitar lesson subscriptions
Click here to visit Guitartricks.com and start your free trial.
  • Title 1
  • Title 2
  • Content goes here .. (1)

  • Content goes here .. (2)