Learning scales can seem boring and even, at time, frustrating. There are so many scales, with so many rules and shapes and notes to memorize, and yet there is nowhere near enough time to do it all and be able to jam and have fun with your friends.
This is any issue that many guitarists face, and when they do, they usually wind up either leaving the guitar behind or skipping scales altogether. Neither solution will help your playing, that much is obvious.
The best solution is to learn a select few scales that can be used in many occurrences. One of those scales is the pentatonic scale, and in this article we will talk about the most common of those scales; the open position minor pentatonic scale.
Understanding Pentatonic Scale
The pentatonic scale, unlike most traditional scales, is a five note scale. This means that there are only five scale degrees on the scale, from the tonic to the leading tone, as well as only five possible triads from the scale. This change in properties actually makes it an easier scale to use, as there is less room to run around and lose your way when playing it.
The notes of the open pentatonic scale are as follows: open low E string; third fret of the low E string for the note G; open A string; second fret of the A string for the note B; open D string; second fret of the D string for the note E; open G string; second fret of the G string for the note A; open B string; third fret of the B string for the note D; open high E string; third fret of the high E string for the note G.
These notes come out to be E, G, A, B and D. Notice that this scale omits the F and the C of what could have been a perfect sized scale. This is what makes the pentatonic scale so special. It has properties that are unlike any other scale due to its lack of a supertonic and a submediant. If you have every listened to heavy metal, the blues, Asian culture music, or even some forms of jazz, you have no doubt heard this unique scale at work.
Practice Your Scale
When creating a chord progression, or playing over a progression, using the open minor pentatonic scale, keep in mind that there are no sharps or flats in the scale and that there is also no supertonic or submediant; this will help you to better fit the notes of the scale to the notes of the progression or riff that you will be using.
In the end, the best way to familiarize yourself with this scale, as with all others, is to practice it. Try making up some riffs and licks using this scale, and play them along to the metronome. Once you are a bit more comfortable with it, try improvising over a progression with it. Have fun with your playing, and remember to pay attention to the key properties. Good luck!
Video Lesson on Minor Pentatonic Scales
Learn how to play simple guitar riffs and apply your knowledge of guitar scales into practical guitar playing. This video guitar lesson will reinforce your memory of the commonly used E minor pentatonic scale pattern using detailed on-screen diagrams.
The notes in E Minor Pentatonic scale on guitar includes E G A B D and you should use shapes across the fretboard to help you in knowing where to find the correct notes for the scale.
In this video guitar lesson, Jamplay instructor Mark Brennan will show you with step by step instructions on how to learn the simple pentatonic scales on the guitar.
Let’s practice this a little bit and later, you’ll get to practice jamming with a simple riff from the pentatonic scale. Remember to use a metronome to keep time!