The Minor Pentatonic Scale

This scale allows you to learn the most common set of notes used in the riffs, melodies and guitar solos in Rock, Blues and Indie music. Everyone from Led Zeppelin to The Arctic Monkeys uses this scale. There are 2 ways we can notate this scale (great news- neither involves having to read music!)

One method is called a Shape Box and the other is with guitar TAB. Each has pros and cons, so we should learn to use both. Shape boxes are a great way to visualise where to place your fingers, and therefore memorise it easier. It is less useful for showing the order of the notes, for that, we need to use TAB (aka guitar Tablature).

Minor Pentatonic ‘shape box’

Minor Pentatonic Scale for Guitar

This is similar to a chord box, but you would only place one finger down at a time. Imagine dipping your fingers in paint then playing this scale- this is what your fret board would look like! Scales have a root note that gives its name, just like chords. Therefore the first note you start on gives the scale its letter name. This ‘shape box’ shows you this shape, then you can move it up and down the fret board to play it in any Key!

Minor Pentatonic Scale in TAB

Minor pentatonic scale TAB

Here is the full scale in TAB in E. This should be practiced until it can be played 4 times in a cycle without making any mistakes. Playing the whole scale is rarely done in songs, but remember- this is like learning your Blues Rock alphabet!

How to practice The Minor Pentatonic Scale

This section shows you exactly how I’d like you to practice this scale, as there are right and wrong ways to do it, along with my personal recommendations.

Scale playing TOP TIPS

The goal is to play each of the following exercises 4 times through by cycling the riff. This is where we repeat the notes evenly without playing the first or last note twice, so we play them in a cycle, hence cycling the riff! All the following examples are in the key of E

Minor Pentatonic Scale Octaves