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Lyle Ronglien >> Beginning Guitar VI - Scales >>

Beginning Guitar VI - Scales

Lesson 3 - The Minor Pentatonic

Lyle: The minor pentatonic is made from 5 tones: The root, b3, 4th, 5th, and b7 tones when compared to the major scale.

1 - E major and E minor pentatonic

Lyle: Notice the difference between the E major scale and the E minor pentatonic. They both share the root, 4th, and 5th degrees. There is no 2nd and 6th degrees in the minor pentatonic. The 3rd and 7th is flatted.

Lyle: The minor pentatonic is about the coolest scale you can play on the guitar. It almost always sounds good. Try playing this low open position pattern:

2 - E minor pentatonic open position

Lyle: Think of it as a scale made from the 1, b3, 4, 5, b7 instead of the whole/half formula.

Major scale: 1  2 3 4 5 6  7
Minor pent:   1  b3 4  5 b7

Lyle: The minor pentatonic is used in almost all forms of music, blues, country, rock, and jazz.

Lyle: Here's a two octave pattern played in the open position:

3 - E minor pentatonic open position 2

angus: What is b3?

Lyle: b3 means flatted 3rd. Take the 3rd note of the major scale and lower it by 1 fret.

angus: same as the 7th, thanks

Lyle: Here's a looping jam track that is in a blues style in the key of E. You can play pretty much any of the notes from the E minor pentatonic while the jam track is playing and you'll find it is easy to "improvise with.

jam track - Blues Shuffle in E

Lyle: Notice the minor pentatonic isn't as melodic sounding as the major scale or the natural minor scale, which both have 7 tones, the pentatonic only has 5 tones.

Lyle: Here's just another way of playing the E minor pentatonic down low in the open position but with a little extra part added on:

4 - E minor pentatonic extended

Lyle: All the circled/highlighted notes are the root notes - E.

Lyle: Here's a real fun pattern to play because it takes you up the neck for a total of 3 octaves:

5 - E minor pentatonic - 3 octaves

5 - E minor pentatonic - 3 octave pattern

Lyle: There happens to be 5 different patterns you can lean for the minor pentatonic scale. You've just learned the 1st pattern in the open position, here's all 5 up the neck.

6 - E minor pentatonic all 5 patterns

Lyle: Here's another way of looking at the whole neck, with all the notes in the E minor pentatonic and all the patterns laid out. Playback this TAB notation to see and study it on the neck:

7 - key of E minor pentatonic

Lyle: You'll see where all the 5 patterns are, all the root notes and the "shapes" of each pattern.

Lyle: You ready for a challenge? Try playing all 5 patterns along to the jam track like this:

solo exercise with E minor pentatonic

Lyle: It starts on E and ends on E. Here's a video clip of this exercise:

solo exercise with E minor pentatonic

Lyle: Once you've memorized the 5 patterns for E minor pentatonic, try playing them in A minor like this:

8 - key of A minor pentatonic

Lyle: Earlier you were playing the E minor pentatonic scale along with a looping jam track that was a 12 bar blues in E. Here's a new looping jam track in A for the A minor pentatonic:

Blues Shuffle in A

Lyle: Here's the same challenge as before, try playing all 5 patterns of the pentatonic scale in A minor:

solo exercise with A minor pentatonic

solo exercise with A minor pentatonic

Lyle: For some beginners, this kind of a challenge is very hard to do. That's a lot of patterns and notes and fingers to memorize. Do the best you can and at least get the first pattern down.

Lyle: Each one of these patterns is moveable to any other key you may need to be in. Here's an example of the most common minor pentatonic pattern, pattern 1, and how you can work on moving it up and down the neck to all the different keys:

9 - favorite pattern and exercise

9 - favorite pattern and exercise

dan: I understand the moving of the pattern to be in a different key but how do you what notes to do tricks on?

Lyle: Almost any note of the minor pentatonic will sound good during improvising.

Lyle: Dan, that's the fun part, learning how to improvise.

Lyle: Learn other peoples riffs and solos, then you can borrow their riffs to improvise with.

Lyle: That's all for this lesson on the minor pentatonic.


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