Major And Minor Pentatonics

author: raymo39 date: 04/08/2009 category: scales
rating: 8.7 / votes: 22 
One thing that confuses a lot of guitarists is the use of the minor and major pentatonic scales. The the minor scales that are outlined below, in the key of "A", are simply patterns that can be moved up and down the neck. Putting these patterns in the key of "A" means that the notes that have an "R" after them, or the root notes, are on an "A" note.

Minor Patterns


Pattern 1
E||----------------------|----------------------|------------3----5R---|
B||----------------------|----------------------|--3----5--------------|
G||----------------------|------------2R---5----|----------------------|
D||----------------------|--2----5--------------|----------------------|
A||------------3----5----|----------------------|----------------------|
E||--3----5R-------------|----------------------|----------------------|

Pattern 2
----------------------|----------------------|------------5R---8----|
----------------------|----------------------|--5----8--------------|
----------------------|------------5----7----|----------------------|
----------------------|--5----7R-------------|----------------------|
------------5----7----|----------------------|----------------------|
--5R---8--------------|----------------------|----------------------|

Pattern 3
------------------------|-----------------------|-------------8----10----|
------------------------|-----------------------|--8----10R--------------|
------------------------|-------------7----9----|------------------------|
------------------------|--7R---10--------------|------------------------|
-------------7----10----|-----------------------|------------------------|
--8----10---------------|-----------------------|------------------------|

Pattern 4
--------------------------|-------------------------|--------------10----12----|
--------------------------|-------------------------|--10R----13-----------
--------------------------|--------------9----12----|--------------------------|
--------------------------|--10----12---------------|--------------------------|
--------------10----12R---|-------------------------|--------------------------|
--10----12----------------|-------------------------|--------------------------|

Pattern 5
--------------------------|--------------------------|--------------12----15----|
--------------------------|--------------------------|--13----15----------------|
--------------------------|--------------12----14R---|--------------------------|
--------------------------|--12----14----------------|--------------------------|
--------------12R----15---|--------------------------|-----------------------
--12----15----------------|--------------------------|--------------------------|

Pattern 6
--------------------------|--------------------------|--------------15----17R---||
--------------------------|--------------------------|--15----17----------------||
--------------------------|--------------14R---17----|-----------------------
--------------------------|--14----17----------------|--------------------------||
--------------15----17----|--------------------------|--------------------------||
--15----17R---------------|--------------------------|--------------------------||
Here you can see that pattern 6 has the same shape as pattern 1 and it's root notes in the same place, but is exactly 12 frets up the fretboard, meaning all the notes in pattern 6 are one octave higher then pattern 1. The major pentatonic scales use the same patterns but with the root notes in a different place to produce a different tonic "progression", which is basically the music theory way of saying it makes it sound major, instead of minor. Here are the same 6 patterns on the neck but with the roots in different areas.

Major Patterns


Pattern 1
E||----------------------|----------------------|------------3----5----|
B||----------------------|----------------------|--3----5--------------|
G||----------------------|------------2----5R---|----------------------|
D||----------------------|--2----5--------------|----------------------|
A||------------3R---5----|----------------------|----------------------|
E||--3----5--------------|----------------------|----------------------|

Pattern 2
----------------------|----------------------|------------5----8R---|
----------------------|----------------------|--5----8--------------|
----------------------|------------5R---7----|----------------------|
----------------------|--5----7--------------|----------------------|
------------5----7----|----------------------|----------------------|
--5----8R-------------|----------------------|----------------------|

Pattern 3
------------------------|-----------------------|-------------8R---10----|
------------------------|-----------------------|--8----10---------------|
------------------------|-------------7----9----|------------------------|
------------------------|--7----10R-------------|------------------------|
-------------7----10----|-----------------------|------------------------|
--8R---10---------------|-----------------------|------------------------|

Pattern 4
--------------------------|-------------------------|--------------10----12----|
--------------------------|-------------------------|--10----13R---------------|
--------------------------|--------------9----12----|--------------------------|
--------------------------|--10R---12---------------|----------------------
--------------10----12----|-------------------------|--------------------------|
--10----12----------------|-------------------------|--------------------------|

Pattern 5
--------------------------|--------------------------|--------------12----15----|
--------------------------|--------------------------|--13R---15------------
--------------------------|--------------12----14----|--------------------------|
--------------------------|--12----14----------------|--------------------------|
--------------12----15R---|--------------------------|--------------------------|
--12----15----------------|--------------------------|--------------------------|

Pattern 6
--------------------------|--------------------------|--------------15----17----||
--------------------------|--------------------------|--15----17----------------||
--------------------------|--------------14----17R---|--------------------------||
--------------------------|--14----17----------------|--------------------------||
--------------15R---17----|--------------------------|---------------------
--15----17----------------|--------------------------|--------------------------||
Here you can see that the same patterns but the roots have been changed. The change in roots for the patterns isnt very difficult at all. You can take the the pattern for the Minor scale, and root moves up one note. So in the case of pattern 2, The root note for the minor is on the 5th fret, and the root note for the major is on the 8th fret. So all you are doing is moving the root one note forward in the pattern to change from minor to major. These major patterns also fall into a different key because there is a change in the root note. These patterns shown above are the C major Pentatonic scales. What?!?! You might think this is strange, but starting at the root note, they have totally different tone feel. So the A minor pentatonic scale and the C major pentatonic scale might be made of the same notes (A C D E G) but depending on what note you start on, you give the scale a whole different feel. All you need to do is learn the 5 patterns and how the root notes change for major and minor scales and you will be well on your way to being able to improvise a solo over nearly every song your hear. This is one of the most powerful tools for a learning guitarist. So make sure to memorise the patterns and think about how to apply them, use your ears and have fun! Hope this was a good first lesson. Chris.
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