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The Definitive Pentatonic Scale Guide

The pentatonic scale, which means “five note scale,” is often the first scale guitarists learn when  exploring improvisation.

This 5-note melodic device has been the source for some of the greatest music written, and greatest solos played, in recorded history.

 

 

 

Because of this, you might know how important it is for every guitarist to study this scale in their playing.

But.

 

What you may not know is that there are many different variations to this scale system beyond the classic minor and major pentatonic scales.

 

The material in this lesson will teach you how to create 14 different pentatonic scales, how to apply practice patterns to these scales, and how to use these scales in your guitar solos.

By working on a variety of pentatonic scales, you’ll expand your vocabulary, increase your fretboard knowledge, and explore the myriad possibilities that these 5-note scales can bring to your guitar solos.

 

Free Jazz Guitar eBook: Download a free Jazz guitar PDF that’ll teach you how to play Jazz chord progressions, solo over Jazz chords, and walk basslines.

 

 

 

Contents – Click to Jump to Each Section

 

Introduction

 

 

 

Major Mode Pentatonic Scales

 

 

 

Melodic Minor Mode Pentatonic Scales

 

 

 

Other Pentatonic Scales

 

 

 

What is a Pentatonic Scale?

 

Though this might be old hat to some, to many guitarists it’s a bit of a surprise to know that there is more than one pentatonic scale.

For many guitarists, the minor pentatonic, or “the pentatonic scale,” is the first scale they learned to play.

Then that’s where things ended as far as their exploration of pentatonic scales on guitar.

But.

There’s a lot more to explore with these fun and cool-sounding scales on the guitar once you move past the minor and major classics that many players know and love.

To begin, let’s define a pentatonic scale.

 

A pentatonic scale is a 5-note scale that outlines a particular chord or mode sound when used in a solo.

 

Even the first part of that statement is all you need to know for now, pentatonic scales are 5-note scales.

As you’ll see in this lesson, you can use any 5 notes to create a pentatonic scale.

But, the most popular versions of these scales are directly related to common Jazz guitar modes and chords.

Now, here’s where things get a bit tricky.

 

Because you can use any 5 notes to create a pentatonic scale, there are several versions for every pentatonic scale in this lesson.

 

The two exceptions are major and minor pentatonic scales, which are set in stone.

Each pentatonic scale version in this guide has been chosen for two reasons.

The first reason is that they are directly related to the sound of the chord that you apply them to in your solos.

And the second reason is that they’re built by altering one note of another pentatonic scale, mostly the minor and major pentatonic scales.

This keeps things organized and simple when learning pentatonic scales in the woodshed.

So, after you’ve learned the pentatonic scales in this lesson, feel free to come up with other versions of these pentatonic scales of your own.

This’ll help you expand upon the concepts in this lesson, and find 5-note scales of your own to use in your improvisations.

Now that you know what a pentatonic scale is, you’re ready to learn how to effectively study the material in this guide.

 

 

 

How to Use This Pentatonic Scale Guide

 

For each pentatonic scale that you learn in this guide, there are four sections that present the study material.

To help you understand what to expect in each section, and get the most out of your studies and practice time with these pentatonic scales, here’s a breakdown for each one of these sections.

 

If you’re new to pentatonic scales, I suggest skipping down the to the minor pentatonic lesson and starting there.

 

Then, learn the major pentatonic scale as you build your foundation with these two essential pentatonic scales.

From there, you can return to the Dorian pentatonic and work your way down the scales in the order they appear in the guide.

If you’re more experienced with pentatonic scales, feel free to skip around to work on specific scales that you want to add to your vocabulary at this point and time.

 

 

Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

In this first section, you’ll learn two ways to build each pentatonic scale.

The first way will be compared to a mode of the major, harmonic minor, melodic minor, or harmonic major scale systems.

The second is to compare the new pentatonic scale to a previously learned scale, mostly the minor and major pentatonic scales.

 

The only exceptions to this rule are the major and minor pentatonic scales, which act as the fundamental versions that the others are built from.

 

Think of this as the theory section before you take this theory to the fretboard in the following sections for each pentatonic scale.

 

 

Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Here, you’ll learn two fingerings for each pentatonic scale, one from the 6th and one from the 5th-string root notes.

Up to this point, you might have learned 5 box patterns for the major or minor pentatonic scales.

 

While box patterns can be helpful, after teaching and playing these scales for 20 years, I’ve found it’s best to start with two shapes and go from there.

 

These two shapes will cover a large part of the fretboard, as well as narrow down the amount of options you have when soloing.

Sometimes you can spend more time thinking about which box pattern to play than actually playing.

As well, most players learn all 5 boxes and then settle on a few that they prefer to use in their solos.

If you want to learn the box patterns that’s all good; check out these excellent lessons on the major pentatonic box patterns and minor pentatonic box patterns for those shapes.

 

 

Pentatonic Scale Patterns

 

In this section you’ll learn one essential scale pattern for each of the 14 pentatonic scales in this lesson.

While there’s only one pattern per scale, you can expand on any scale by using the pattern from scale A over scale B.

 

Essentially, to keep things simple each scale gets one pattern, but any pattern can be applied to any scale in this lesson.

 

When working on these patterns, you’ll want to memorize the shapes first, and then work them with a metronome at increased speeds to build your guitar technique.

As well, you can use the backing tracks in this lesson to test these scale patterns out over a guitar soloing situation.

 

 

Pentatonic Scale Licks

 

To finish up your studies of each pentatonic scale, there’s a sample lick you can learn and add to your soloing vocabulary.

Each lick is used over a common guitar chord progression and features the most popular application of that pentatonic scale.

Advanced players will want to learn these licks in multiple keys.

And, it’s always a good idea to write out a few licks of your own to expand your knowledge of any pentatonic scale in a soloing situation.

 

 

How to Practice Pentatonic Scales

 

When working on any pentatonic scale, you might be tempted to memorize one shape, try it a bit over a jam track and move on.

But.

This can cause problems with memorization and application down the road.

So, to help you get the most out of your time working on these scales, here’s a guitar practice workout that you can use to learn any pentatonic scale.

 

  • Learn one shape for any pentatonic scale
  • Memorize that shape and solo with it over the jam track
  • Move that shape into other keys on the fretboard
  • Apply the scale pattern to that shape with a metronome
  • Solo with the scale pattern over the jam track
  • Learn the lick for that scale from memory
  • Add the lick to your solos over the tracks
  • Repeat each exercise with the second scale fingering

 

As you can see, this is an extensive approach to learning pentatonic scales.

But.

Approaching your practice in this way will ensure that you get the most out of your time in the practice room.

As well, if you can work these exercises from memory, you’ll never forget a pentatonic scale that you learn, ever.

Try this routine out with the first pentatonic scale you learn and see how it goes.

Feel free to make any adjustments from there if necessary, but stick to the exercise if possible to get the most out of your practice routine.

 

 

Major Mode Pentatonic Scales

 

When studying the major scale system, you can build and solo with pentatonic scales for each of the 7 modes of the major scale.

As you learned how to play the Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etc. 7-note modes, you can learn a 5-note pentatonic scale for each of those 7 modes.

As is the case with any pentatonic scale, there are several ways to build and play pentatonic scales that correspond to the 7 modes of the major scale.

Because there are a number of options, you’ll learn how to build pentatonic scales that:

 

  • Outline the important color notes for each mode
  • Maintain as many chord tones as possible for each scale
  • Are built by altering one note of the major or minor pentatonic scales

 

By working on the 7 major mode pentatonic scales in this manner, you’ll be able to:

 

  • Keep the characteristic sound of each mode in your pentatonic scales
  • Outline the chord in your solos using chord tones
  • Learn new scale shapes quickly as you relate them to a scale you already know

 

Lastly, as is the case with major scale modes, you’ll use each of these pentatonic scales to solo over specific chords in your playing.

As you use the Dorian mode to solo over m7 chords, you’ll use the Dorian pentatonic scale to solo over those same m7 chords.

This’ll give you a second melodic texture to use when soloing over chord progressions, as compared to only using 7-note modes in your solos.

The exception to this approach will be the major pentatonic scale, as it can be used to solo over two chord types in your playing.

So, time to get started by learning one of the most important pentatonic scales in modern music, the major pentatonic scale.

 

 

Major Pentatonic Scale

 

The first pentatonic scale in this system is the Major pentatonic scale, which can be used to solo over both major and dominant family chords in your playing.

Major pentatonic scales are essential learning for guitarists in any genre of music, and they’ll be used to create many of the other pentatonic scales in this lesson.

Because of this, it’s important that you have a strong understanding of the major pentatonic scale, how it’s built, how to play it on the guitar, and how to solo with this scale before moving on to the other pentatonic scales in your studies.

To begin your study of this important scale, start by learning how this scale is built, and how it relates to not only the major scale, but the Mixolydian mode as well.

 

 

Major Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

One of the two fundamental pentatonic scales, along with the minor pentatonic scale, the major pentatonic is used to create a number of other scales by altering one note in this essential scale shape.

As it is related to the Ionian mode, otherwise known as the major scale, the major pentatonic scale contains five intervals from that related major mode.

Here’s the interval structure for the Ionian mode and the major pentatonic scale that you can use for a comparison.

 

  • Major Scale – R 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Major Pentatonic – R 2 3 5 6

 

As you can see, the major pentatonic scale is built by leaving out the 4th and 7th intervals of the major scale, forming a 5-note scale shape in the process.

Again, because it is related to the major scale, the major pentatonic scale can be used to solo over major family chords such as:

 

  • Major
  • Maj7
  • Maj6
  • Maj9
  • Maj6/9

 

As well, this is one of the few pentatonic scales that can be used to solo over two families of chords.

When you compare the major pentatonic scale to the Mixolydian mode, you see that it shares 5 notes with the 5th mode of the major scale.

 

  • Mixolydian – R 2 3 4 5 6 b7
  • Major Pentatonic – R 2 3 5 6

 

Since it contains 5 notes from the Mixolydian mode, you can also use the major pentatonic scale to solo over Dominant family chords such as:

 

  • 7th
  • 9th
  • 13th
  • 7sus4

 

Because there’s no 7th of any kind in the major pentatonic scale, it’s a bit ambiguous as to which chord family, major or dominant, it comes from.

Therefore, you can use it to solo over both chord families in your playing.

 

 

Major Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Now that you know how to build a major pentatonic scale, you can take this scale to the fretboard.

Below are two fingerings for the A major pentatonic scale that you can learn and apply to your guitar solos.

 

Make sure to learn these pentatonic scales in the given key first, and then when you feel ready you can take them to other keys around the fretboard.

 

To help you practice these scale shapes in your guitar solos, here’s an Amaj7 backing track.

Once you can play either of these major pentatonic scale shapes, put on the backing track and solo over the Amaj7 chord with the A major pentatonic scale.

This’ll not only help you work on your soloing chops, but will help you internalize these scale shapes in a fun and creative exercise.

 

Amaj7 Backing Track Amaj7 Backing Track

 

Here are two positions of the A major pentatonic scale, one from the 5th and one from the 6th string that you can study in your practice routine.

 

Click to hear major pentatonic scale 1

 

major pentatonic scale 1

 

 

Major Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

After you’ve learned how to play either of the major pentatonic scale fingerings above, you can work on building your guitar chops by applying the following pentatonic scale pattern to those scale shapes.

 

The pattern is built by playing the first note of the scale, then skipping the second note to play the third note, then repeating that process from the 2nd note of the scale and up the fingering from there.

 

Start by using a metronome and going slow with this pattern.

Once it’s comfortable, put on a backing track and add this pattern into our solos to hear how it sounds in an improvisational setting as well as a technical setting.

 

Click to hear major pentatonic scale 2

 

major pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Major Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

To help you take the major pentatonic scale to a soloing situation, here’s a lick that you can learn over a major ii V I chord progression in G major.

In this phrase, the G major pentatonic scale is used to outline the Gmaj7 chord in the 3rd bar of the phrase.

After you’ve learned how to play this major pentatonic scale lick from memory, put on a backing track and practice adding this line to your guitar solos in your studies.

 

Click to hear major pentatonic scale 3

 

major pentatonic scale 3

 

Dorian Pentatonic Scale

 

As it’s related to the Dorian scale, the Dorian pentatonic scale is used to solo over m7 chords when you want to highlight the 6th interval in your lines.

 

This interval, the 6th, over a m7 chord is often used in Jazz and Fusion, and over certain minor chords in Rock and other genres.

 

As you learn the fingerings below, make sure to jam over the backing tracks to hear this scale in action, especially compared to the minor pentatonic scale that you are probably more used to using in your guitar solos.

Though it has a different quality to it than the minor pentatonic scale, the Dorian pentatonic scale can add a new color to your minor key soloing palette.

 

 

Dorian Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

There are two ways to build and think about a Dorian pentatonic scale.

The first way is to think of this scale as a Dorian mode with the 2nd and 7th notes removed.

Here’s how that would look from an interval perspective.

 

  • Dorian – R 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
  • Dorian Pent – R b3 4 5 6

 

And for an A Dorian and A Dorian pentatonic scale the notes would be.

 

  • A Dorian – A B C D E F# G
  • A Dorian Pent – A C D E F#

 

The second way to build and visualize the Dorian pentatonic scale on the guitar is to lower one note from the minor pentatonic scale.

 

If you lower the b7 of a minor pentatonic scale by one fret you build a Dorian pentatonic scale.

 

This’ll make it easier to visualize, quickly build, and solo with this new scale, as you’re comparing it to a scale you already know.

You can see and hear these two pentatonic scales back to back in the example below to begin comparing their sound qualities and shapes on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear dorian pentatonic scale 1

 

dorian pentatonic scale 1

 

Once you’ve listened to the minor and Dorian pentatonic scales in the example above, play both scales back to back to see how they are only one note different on the guitar, but produce different sounds.

Then, put on the Am7 backing track and solo over that chord with both scales as you begin to hear how they sound when applied to a guitar soloing situation.

 

 

Dorian Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Now that you know how to build a Dorian pentatonic scale, it’s time to take that knowledge to the fretboard and learn how to play this scale on the guitar.

Once you’ve learned either of these Dorian pentatonic scale fingerings, put on the backing track below and jam over the Am7 chord to apply these scale shapes to your guitar solos.

 

Am7 Backing Track Am7 Backing Track

 

Here are two fingerings, one from the 6th and one from the 5th string, which you can learn for the Dorian pentatonic scale.

 

Click to hear dorian pentatonic scale 2

 

dorian pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Dorian Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

Here’s a scale pattern that you can apply to any Dorian pentatonic scale fingering in order to internalize this scale and build your guitar chops at the same time.

The pattern is built by playing the 3rd note down to the first note, then the 4th note down to the 1st note and so on up and down the fingering.

Go slow with this pattern, working it with a metronome, and then add it to your solos to hear how it sounds in in improvisational setting.

 

Click to hear dorian pentatonic scale 3

 

dorian pentatonic scale 3

 

 

Dorian Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

To help you bring this scale into your guitar solos, here’s a Dorian pentatonic lick over a ii V I in the key of G major.

Here, the A Dorian pentatonic scale is used to outline the Am7 chord in the progression.

 

Notice how the 6th anticipates the V7 chord in this line, as the F# is the 6th of Am7 and also the 3rd of D7.

 

After you’ve learned this line, put on a backing track and add this Dorian pentatonic phrase to your guitar solos in a musical situation.

 

Click to hear dorian pentatonic scale 4

 

dorian pentatonic scale 4

 

Phrygian Pentatonic Scale

 

The third mode of the major scale produces an interesting pentatonic scale when you pair it down, the Phrygian pentatonic scale.

 

With a b2 and no 3rd, either major or minor, this scale can be a bit ambiguous when applied to your solos.

 

As well, it’s has a chameleon-like nature to it, as it’s a minor-family pentatonic scale, and can be used to solo over minor chords.

But, it also sounds great when used over dominant chords in your solos.

Though it’s not as popular as the other pentatonic scales in the major system, the Phrygian pentatonic scale will open new doors in your playing.

Definitely worth spending some time with this scale in the practice room.

 

 

Phrygian Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

Based on the Phrygian scale, the Phrygian pentatonic scale can be built by comparing this five-note scale to its related major mode.

When doing so, you’ll leave out the 3rd and 6th notes of the Phrygian scale to produce the new pentatonic scale.

Here are those two interval patterns for comparison.

 

  • Phrygian – R b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
  • Phrygian Pent – R b2 4 5 b7

 

As well, here are the notes in A Phrygian as compared to the notes in A Phrygian pentatonic.

 

  • A Phrygian – A Bb C D E F G
  • A Phrygian Pent – A Bb D E G

 

Besides comparing this scale to its related major mode, you can alter one note from the minor pentatonic scale to form the Phrygian pentatonic scale on the fretboard.

 

You can lower the b3 of any minor pentatonic scale by 2 frets to form a Phrygian pentatonic scale.

 

You can see these two scales back to back below for a quick comparison.

After you’ve listened to the example, play them on the fretboard to hear how they sound when compared to each other on the guitar.

 

Click to hear phrygian pentatonic scale 1

 

 

phrygian pentatonic scale 1.1

 

As was mentioned in the intro to this section, the Phrygian pentatonic scale can be used to solo over two chords in your lead lines.

The most obvious application is to use this scale to solo over minor-family chords such as minor and m7.

When doing so, you’ll bring out the Phrygian b2 interval, making it sound like a Phrygian minor chord in your solos.

But, there is also a second application for this scale, dominant chords.

 

When applying the Phrygian pentatonic scale to a dominant 7th chord in your solos, you’ll be outlining a 7susb9 sound over that chord.

 

This might be a bit tense for some musical situations.

But, over a Jazz or Fusion song it’ll sound great.

And, it can even be used to turn a few heads in a Blues tune as well.

As you learn the Phrygian pentatonic scale fingerings below, make sure to solo over both m7 and 7th chords to hear how both sound in your own playing.

 

 

Phrygian Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Armed with the knowledge of how to build and apply the Phrygian pentatonic scale to a soloing situation, you’re ready to take this scale onto the fretboard.

After you learn either fingering below, put on the A7 backing track and practice soloing over that chord with the Phrygian pentatonic scale.

 

It’s always better to try out any scale in your home practice before taking it to a jam or gig.

 

Often times a scale will sound one way on it’s own and another way when applied to harmony.

This is especially the case with the Phrygian pentatonic scale as you’re playing a minor-based scale over a Dominant 7th chord, creating a b9 tension note along the way.

 

A7 Backing Track A7 Backing Track

 

Here are two Phrygian pentatonic fingerings, one from the 6th and one from the 5th strings, which you can learn and use in your solos.

 

Click to hear phrygian pentatonic scale 2

 

phrygian pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Phrygian Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

Here’s a scale pattern that you can use to learn and practice each of the Phrygian pentatonic fingerings in this lesson.

 

The pattern is based on playing the 123 scale tones from the first note of the scale.

 

Then, you repeat that pattern from the rest of the scale tones to run the pattern up the scale, 234, 345, 451 etc.

Start by running this pattern with a metronome, then apply it to the A7 backing track above in order to add it to your guitar soloing repertoire as well.

 

Click to hear phrygian pentatonic scale 3

 

phrygian pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

Phrygian Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

To help you take the Phrygian pentatonic scale to a soloing situation, here’s a sample line that you can study and add to your lead guitar playing.

In this lick, the Phrygian pentatonic scale is used to outline the D7 chord in a ii V I in G major.

 

As was mentioned earlier, though the Phrygian mode and pentatonic are part of the minor scale family, they sound great when used to solo dominant chords.

 

You can see and hear in this lick how there are chord tones, D-A-C, and a tension note, Eb, when you use this scale over a D7 chord.

After you’ve learned this line, work it in a few keys with a metronome.

Then, take it to your guitar solos as you practice using this cool-sounding pentatonic scale over 7th chords in your own lines.

 

Click to hear phrygian pentatonic scale 4

 

phrygian pentatonic scale 4

 

Lydian Pentatonic Scale

 

In the next pentatonic scale, you’ll expand your major-family soloing to explore the #4 (#11) interval over those chords.

By applying the Lydian pentatonic scale to your solos, you’ll give yourself a solid secondary scale to use over any maj7, 6, maj9, etc., chord in a song.

 

Though you can apply this scale to just about any major-family chord, that doesn’t mean you have to.

 

Navigating the #4 interval takes some time and care in your solos.

So, always practice a tension producing scale such as this one at home before taking it out onto the bandstand to avoid any awkward moments in your solos.

 

 

Lydian Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

A relative of the Lydian scale, you can use two methods to build the Lydian pentatonic scale.

The first method is to compare it directly to the Lydian scale by removing the 5th and 7th notes of that 7-note scale.

When doing so, you’re left with the 5-note Lydian pentatonic scale.

Here are those two scales to compare.

 

  • Lydian – R 2 3 #4 5 6 7
  • Lydian Pent – R 2 3 #4 6

 

To see how this lays out from a note perspective, here are the A Lydian and A Lydian pentatonic scale notes for comparison.

 

  • A Lydian – A B C# D# E F# G#
  • A Lydian Pent – A B C# D# F#

 

The other way to build a Lydian pentatonic scale, and the more practical on the fretboard for many players, is to lower one note of the major pentatonic scale.

 

By lowering the 5th of the major pentatonic scale by one fret, you’ll wind up with a Lydian pentatonic scale.

 

Here are both of those scales back to back so that you can see how they are one note different on the fretboard, but each produces a unique sound on the guitar.

 

Click to hear lydian pentatonic scale 1

 

lydian pentatonic scale 1

 

After you’ve played through these major and Lydian pentatonic shapes, put on the jam track below and solo over the Amaj7 chord with both scales.

This will get your ears to learn the difference between these pentatonic scales, allowing you to build confidence with each in your guitar solos and riffs.

 

 

Lydian Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Now that you’ve worked out the theory behind this scale, and how to use the Lydian pentatonic scale in your guitar solos, you can learn to play this 5-note scale on the fretboard.

Below are two fingerings that you can memorize and work with your metronome in the woodshed.

To help you take these scale shapes to your guitar solos, jam over this Amaj7 backing track once you’ve learned either fingering.

Your ears will need to get used to this new scale in order to fully integrate it into your playing.

The best way to do that is to hear the Lydian pentatonic scale over chords such as Amaj7.

 

Amaj7 Backing Track Amaj7 Backing Track

 

Start by learning each of these Lydian pentatonic scales on the guitar, one from the 6th and one from the 5th-string root notes.

Once you can play the A Lydian pentatonic scale, practice these shapes in other keys.

Make sure to use a metronome and increase the tempo as you practice each shape to build speed and guitar technique as you learn these scale shapes.

 

Click to hear lydian pentatonic scale 2

 

lydian pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Lydian Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

In order to use the Lydian pentatonic scale as a guitar chops builder, here’s a scale pattern that you can use to practice each fingering for this scale.

The pattern is built by playing up the first four notes of the scale.

Then, you repeat that pattern from the second note, third note, and so on up the scale.

When you reach the top of the fingering you’re working on, you work that same pattern down the scale.

Make sure to work this Lydian pentatonic scale pattern with a metronome, then take it to a backing track and add it to your guitar solo practice routine as well.

 

Click to hear lydian pentatonic scale 3

 

lydian pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

Lydian Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

To help you take this scale into your solos, here’s a Lydian pentatonic lick over the Imaj7 chord in a ii V I chord progression.

You’ll notice that the C#, #4 interval, isn’t accented in this line.

 

That can be an effective way to introduce your ears to this tension note in your guitar solos.

 

Then, from there, you can begin to put that note at the start or end of your licks to bring more attention to that tension in your playing.

 

Click to hear lydian pentatonic scale 4

 

lydian pentatonic scale 4

 

Mixolydian Pentatonic Scale

 

Associated with the 5th mode of the major scale system, the Mixolydian pentatonic scale is used to solo over dominant 7th chords.

 

Featuring the R-3-5-b7 arpeggio notes, with the 9th added in, this scale brings an added sense of melodic color as compared to the 7th arpeggio in your solos.

 

By learning how to build, finger, and solo with the Mixolydian scale, you’ll expand your 7th chord soloing chops on the guitar.

 

 

Mixolydian Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

There are two ways to approach building a Mixolydian pentatonic scale on the guitar.

Both have equal merit, so pick the one that makes the most sense for you and carry that forward in your studies.

The first is to compare the Mixolydian pentatonic scale to the Mixolydian mode.

 

By taking out the 4th and 6th notes of the Mixolydian mode, you’ll create a Mixolydian pentatonic scale.

 

Here is how those two scales compare from an interval standpoint.

 

  • Mixolydian – R 2 3 4 5 6 b7
  • Mixolydian Pent – R 2 3 5 b7

 

And from an A root the notes for each scale would be.

 

  • A Mixolydian – A B C# D E F# G
  • A Mixolydian Pent – A B C# E G

 

The second way to build a Mixolydian pentatonic scale is to alter the major pentatonic scale by one note on the fretboard.

Raising the 6th of any major pentatonic scale by one fret will create a Mixolydian pentatonic scale shape on the guitar.

 

By approaching the Mixolydian pentatonic scale in this way, you’ll be able to learn a new scale and add a new sound to your solos without learning a new fingering.

 

You’ll be adjusting previous fretboard knowledge to create a new scale in your playing.

This’ll help you be efficient in your practice time, as well as make it easy to switch between these two scales in your dominant 7th chord solos.

Here are both of those scales side by side to compare their fingerings on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear mixolydian pentatonic scale 1

 

mixolydian pentatonic scale 1

 

After listening to these scales back to back, put on the A7 jam track below and solo over that chord with both the major and Mixolydian pentatonic scales in order to hear how both sound when played over a dominant chord on guitar.

 

 

Mixolydian Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

To get you started with jamming over 7th chords with the Mixolydian pentatonic scale, you’ll learn two common fingerings for this scale on the guitar.

Work each scale with a metronome and memorize these fingerings to make sure you can play them without looking at the diagrams after learning them.

As well, work them from the A root note to begin, and then move them around to different keys on the fretboard from there.

After you’ve learned either fingering below, put on the A7 jam track and practice applying the Mixolydian pentatonic scale to your guitar solos over a dominant chord.

 

A7 Backing Track A7 Backing Track

 

To get you started with this scale on the guitar, here are two Mixolydian pentatonic scale fingerings that you can learn and use in your guitar solos over 7th chords.

 

Click to hear mixolydian pentatonic scale 2

 

mixolydian pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Mixolydian Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

Here’s a triplet scale pattern that you can use to build your guitar technique with the Mixolydian pentatonic scale

After learning this scale pattern over the example fingering, bring it to other fingerings and keys in your practice routine.

Lastly, make sure to add this pattern to your solos over the A7 jam track build your soloing repertoire and chops at the same time.

 

Click to hear mixolydian pentatonic scale 3

 

mixolydian pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

Mixolydian Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

You’re now ready to study applying the Mixolydian pentatonic scale to popular chord progressions.

In this sample lick, you’ll use the Mixolydian pentatonic scale to outline each chord in the first four bars of a Bb Jazz Blues chord progression.

Learn this lick in the given key, and then add it to your Jazz Blues solos as you expand upon it in your solos.

 

Click to hear mixolydian pentatonic scale 4

 

mixolydian pentatonic scale 4

 

Minor Pentatonic Scale

 

You’re now going to learn how to play the most popular, and most important, 5-note scale, the minor pentatonic scale.

This scale is found in all genres of popular music, and is often the first scale guitarists ever learn.

 

While this scale is learned early and used often, that doesn’t mean it’s any less important than other pentatonic scales.

 

Used to solo over almost every possible chord in popular music, including minor, dominant, and major-family chords, the minor pentatonic is the most versatile scale you’ll ever learn.

If you’re new to pentatonic scales, make sure to spend the time to fully understand and get this scale under your fingers.

When you’re ready, take that strong foundation to the other pentatonic scales in this lesson.

It’s an oldie, but a goodie, so time to dig into learning about the minor pentatonic scale in your studies.

 

 

Minor Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

As this is the fundamental minor pentatonic scale, you can compare it to the natural minor scale from an interval standpoint.

 

When doing so, you’ll remove the 2nd and 6th notes from the Aeolian mode to create the minor pentatonic scale.

 

Here’s how both of those scales look as a comparison.

 

  • Natural Minor – R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
  • Minor Pentatonic – R b3 4 5 b7

 

Because you’ll use the minor pentatonic scale to build all of the other minor-based pentatonic scales in this guide, make sure you memorize the interval pattern of this scale.

This’ll make it easier to lower or raise one note at a time to create other minor sounding pentatonic scales in your playing.

 

 

Minor Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Now that you can alter the natural minor scale to build the minor pentatonic scale on paper, you’ll want to take that information onto the guitar.

Start with the A minor pentatonic scale on the 6th string before moving onto the 5th-string shape in your studies.

 

Because this scale is used so often on guitar, make sure to memorize each shape, work them with a metronome, and take them to other keys on the fretboard.

 

After you can play either minor pentatonic scale shape below, put on the Am7 backing track and solo over that chord in your practice routine.

 

Am7 Backing Track Am7 Backing Track

 

Here are both the 6th and 5th-string minor pentatonic fingerings to learn and use in your guitar solos.

 

Click to hear minor pentatonic scale 1

 

minor pentatonic scale 1

 

 

Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

Here’s a popular Jazz pattern that you can use to expand your guitar chops with the minor pentatonic scale.

 

The pattern is built by playing two notes on the “left” side of the scale, followed by two notes on the “right” side of the scale.

 

After you’ve learned this pattern over the 6th-string shape take it to the A minor pentatonic fingering on the 5th string with a metronome.

From there, work this pattern in other keys, and jam with it over the Am7 backing track in your studies.

 

Click to hear minor pentatonic scale 2

 

minor pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

Minor Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

To sum up your intro to the minor pentatonic scale, here’s a sample guitar lick that you can learn and add to your solos.

In this phrase, the A minor pentatonic scale outlines the Am7, iim7, chord in a ii V I progression in G major.

 

As well, the pattern used in that bar is a classic Jazz pattern.

 

So, feel free to take that pattern out of the lick and into your minor pentatonic practice routine to study it further.

 

Click to hear minor pentatonic scale 3

 

minor pentatonic scale 3

 

Locrian Pentatonic Scale

 

Used to solo over m7b5 chords, which are commonly used in Jazz and Fusion among other genres, the Locrian pentatonic scale will expand your minor key guitar solos.

Coming out of the Locrian scale, and being very closely related to the minor pentatonic scale shape, this scale is easy to play on the guitar.

 

As well, it perfectly outlines the m7b5 chord, making it an easy to finger shape that you can use in your minor key soloing lines and phrases.

 

If you’re struggling with soloing over minor ii V I chords, which is a common challenge, check out the Locrian pentatonic scale.

It’ll expand your fretboard knowledge, and make it easier to solo in minor keys at the same time.

 

 

Locrian Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

There are two ways that you can think of the interval pattern for the Locrian pentatonic scale.

The first is to compare it to the 7th mode of the major scale.

 

By removing the 2nd and 6th notes of the Locrian scale, you’ll produce the interval pattern for the Locrian pentatonic scale.

 

Here’s how those two scales compare.

 

  • Locrian – R b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
  • Locrian Pent – R b3 4 b5 b7

 

You can also build the Locrian pentatonic scale by altering one note in the minor pentatonic scale shapes.

By lowering the 5th of the minor pentatonic scale by one fret, you’ll build Locrian pentatonic scale shapes on the guitar.

Here’s how those two scales look and sound to see how that works on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear locrian penatonic scale 1

 

locrian pentatonic scale 1

 

Once you’ve listened to these two scales, play them on the guitar to hear how they sound different, but are related from a fingering standpoint on the fretboard.

 

 

Locrian Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

In order to start using the Locrian pentatonic scale in your guitar solos, you’ll have to learn how to play this scale on the fretboard.

To help you get started with that process, here are two Locrian pentatonic scale shapes that you can learn and work around the guitar in the woodshed.

To help you begin soloing with these fingerings, here is an Am7b5 backing track that you can use in the practice room.

Begin by learning the 6th-string shape below and then solo with that shape over the jam track.

Repeat that process when you’re comfortable with the 5th-string scale shape.

 

Am7b5 Backing Track Am7b5 Backing Track

 

Here are both the 6th and 5th-string Locrian pentatonic scale fingerings to take onto the guitar and bring to your m7b5 guitar solo lines.

 

Click to hear locrian penatonic scale 2

 

locrian pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Locrian Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

To help you memorize this scale, and build your guitar technique, here’s a Locrian pentatonic scale pattern that you can work out on the fretboard.

Begin by playing it with the fingering below, before taking it to the 5th-string root shape on the guitar.

After you can play this pattern from memory, put on the Am7b5 backing track above and add it to your guitar soloing lines and phrases.

 

Click to hear locrian penatonic scale 3

 

locrian pentatonic scale 3

 

 

Locrian Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

One of the most popular chord progressions featuring a m7b5 chord is the minor ii V I.

In this phrase, you’ll learn a lick that uses the Locrian pentatonic scale to outline the iim7b5 chord in a iim7b5 V7alt Im7 chord progression.

Notice how the half steps between E and F, 4 and b5, outline the m7b5 sound in the line.

Learn the line as is, then when you’re ready bring it to your minor key solos to take this lick further on the guitar.

 

Click to hear locrian penatonic scale 4

 

locrian pentatonic scale 4

 

 

Melodic Minor Pentatonic Scales

 

Now that you’ve worked on the 7 pentatonic scales from the major scale family, you can expand your soloing palette by learning 5 pentatonic scales from the melodic minor scale system.

In these lessons, you’ll learn how to play pentatonic scales related to the first, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th modes of melodic minor.

 

These pentatonic scales will provide you with a number of new chord colors to bring out in your solos, including 7#11, m9b5, and maj7#5.

 

When soloing in Jazz and Fusion songs, these secondary choice scales will help you build interest and intensity in your lines and phrases.

Though they’ll be a bit tense for some players, try these scales out and see what you think.

Often times these tense scales will be tough to work out in the beginning.

But.

With time they’ll become an important part of your creative output on the guitar.

 

 

 

mMaj7 Pentatonic Scale

 

The first melodic minor pentatonic scale you’ll learn is the mMaj7 pentatonic scale.

This scale is used to solo over minor family chords, such as m7, m6, and mMaj7 chords.

 

When doing so, you’ll create a bit of tension with the major 7 interval over those chords in your solos.

 

Tough it can be a bit tense compared to other minor-based pentatonic scales, the mMaj7 pentatonic scale is essential learning for any Jazz or Fusion guitarist.

 

 

mMaj7 Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

There are two ways that you can think about the mMaj7 pentatonic scale from an interval and fingering standpoint.

 

The first is to think of this new scale as being the melodic minor scale with the 2nd and 6th notes removed.

 

Here’s how the interval pattern for both scales compares.

 

  • Melodic Minor – R 2 b3 4 5 6 7
  • mMaj7 Pentatonic – R b3 4 5 7

 

As well, you can take any minor pentatonic scale shape you know, raise the 7th by one fret, and you’ve build a mMaj7 pentatonic scale.

Here’s how those two scales look on the fretboard so you can see that fingering relationship on the guitar.

 

Click to hear mMaj7 pentatonic scale 1

 

mMaj7 pentatonic scale 1

 

 

As you can hear, these scales each have their own unique sound on the guitar; though they are have related fingerings.

To dig into these two scales further, put on the Am7 backing track below and move between the minor and mMaj7 pentatonic scales in your routine to hear how those scales compare in a soloing situation.

 

 

mMaj7 Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Now that you know how to build a mMaj7 pentatonic scale, you can work out fingerings for this cool, minor-family scale on the guitar.

Check out these two fingerings, one on the 6th and one on the 5th strings, as you expand your knowledge of the mMaj7 pentatonic scale in the practice room.

As always, as soon as you can play one of these shapes from memory, put on the backing track and apply that scale shape to your guitar solos.

 

Am7 Backing Track Am7 Backing Track

 

To begin, learn the 6th string shape followed by the 5th string shape when you’re ready to move on in your practicing.

Make sure that you can play both shapes from memory, as well as apply them to the Am7 jam track above.

 

Click to hear mMaj7 pentatonic scale 2

 

mMaj7 pentatonic scale 2

 

 

mMaj7 Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

Here’s a pentatonic scale pattern that you can use to expand your guitar technique and add to your soloing repertoire with the mMaj7 pentatonic scale.

Work this pattern with a metronome as well as with the Am7 backing in order to get a balanced workout with this scale in the woodshed.

 

Click to hear mMaj7 pentatonic scale 3

 

mMaj7 pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

mMaj7 Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

In this example, you’ll learn a ii V I lick where the A mMaj7 pentatonic scale is used to outline the iim7 chord.

Notice that the major 7 interval, G#, is used as a neighbor tone.

This way, you can bring that note into your playing, but not emphasize it too much if you want to avoid that tension in your lines.

Check this lick out in the given key, and then for an extra challenge, move it to other keys around the fretboard.

 

Click to hear mMaj7 pentatonic scale 4

 

mMaj7 pentatonic scale 4

 

Maj7#5 Pentatonic Scale

 

Based on the 3rd mode of melodic minor, the maj7#5 pentatonic scale is used to solo over major-family chords when you want to bring tension to your lines.

The #5 is a tough interval to navigate over maj7 chords, which are usually used as resolution points in modern music.

 

Because the #5 interval creates a sense of tension, you’ll have to learn to resolve that tension in order to properly use this scale in your solos.

 

This can take a bit of time, but once you get it down this new scale will add a cool, secondary color to your maj7 soloing phrases.

 

 

Maj7#5 Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

You can break down the maj7#5 pentatonic scale from two angles in your theory studies.

The first is to relate it to the Lydian Augmented mode, the 3rd mode of melodic minor.

 

When doing so, you’ll remove the 4th and 7th notes of the Lydian Augmented scale to form the maj7#5 pentatonic scale.

 

Here’s how those two scales compare from an interval perspective.

 

  • Lydian Augmented – R 2 3 #4 #5 6 7
  • Maj7#5 Pentatonic – R 2 3 #5 6

 

The second way to think about this scale is to compare it to the major pentatonic scale shape.

By raising the 5th of any major pentatonic scale shape, you’ll create a maj7#5 pentatonic scale fingering on the guitar.

Here’s how those two scales compare on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear maj7#5 pentatonic scale 1

 

maj7#5 pentatonic scale 1

 

 

Once you’ve listened to these two scales, put on the Amaj7 backing track below and practice soloing over that chord with both the major and maj7#5 pentatonic scales.

This’ll help your ears get used to the new sound, and you’ll see how these two scales are directly related on the guitar.

 

 

Maj7#5 Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

You can take the maj7#5 pentatonic scale from the theory side of your routine to the performance side.

Learning to play this scale in two positions on the guitar will help you expand your fretboard knowledge, as well as bring this scale to your soloing lines on the guitar.

 

Amaj7 Backing Track Amaj7 Backing Track

 

Here are two maj7#5 pentatonic scale fingerings that you can learn and use in your guitar soloing practice.

This scale sounds great, but it can be a bit awkward to finger on the guitar.

So, take our time with each shape, and feel free to try a few fingerings in your fretting hand to find the right one for you.

 

Click to hear maj7#5 pentatonic scale 2

 

maj7#5 pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Maj7#5 Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

This four-note maj7#5 pentatonic scale pattern is a great device for building guitar chops and soloing lines in your playing.

While the scale fingering may be a bit awkward at first, this pattern sits nicely on the fretboard.

 

This makes it the ideal candidate to work on speed in your practice routine and improvised solos.

 

Work this pattern over both shapes with the metronome at first.

Then, take it to the backing track to get a full sense of how this pattern will fit into your playing from there.

 

Click to hear maj7#5 pentatonic scale 3

 

Maj7#5 pentatonic scale 3

 

 

Maj7#5 Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

This ii V I lick in G major uses the maj7#5 pentatonic scale to bring a sense of tension and release to the Imaj7 chord.

 

In order to apply this scale to tonic chords, you’ll need to resolve the #5 interval to avoid having it sound like a mistake.

 

This line shows you an example of how to do that.

After you can play this lick, put on a ii-V-I backing track practice playing the lick once, then soloing over the chords once.

As you solo, work on adding the maj7#5 pentatonic scale into your lines and resolving that tension note along the way.

 

Click to hear maj7#5 pentatonic scale 4

 

maj7#5 pentatonic scale 4

 

7#11 Pentatonic Scale

 

If you’ve ever studied Jazz guitar, you’ll know that the Lydian Dominant scale is one of the most popular sounds to use when soloing over dominant chords.

But, did you know that you could also use a pentatonic version of this scale in your solos?

 

The 7#11 pentatonic scale is related to the Lydian Dominant scale in both its interval structure and application to your solos.

 

If you’re looking for a scale to spice up your Dominant 7th lines, then look no further; this scale is exactly what you’re looking for.

 

 

7#11 Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

There are two ways to work out the 7#11 pentatonic scale on paper.

The first is to compare it to the Lydian Dominant scale.

 

To do this, you’ll remove the 5th and 7th notes of that scale to form the 7#11 pentatonic scale.

 

Here’s how that comparison looks between both scales.

 

  • Lydian Dominant – R 2 3 #4 5 6 b7
  • 7#11 Pentatonic – R 2 3 #4 6

 

The second way to think about the 7#11 pentatonic scale is to lower the 5th of the major pentatonic scale by one fret.

Here’s how that comparison would look on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear 7#11 pentatonic scale 1

 

7#11 pentatonic scale 1

 

After you listen to the audio example, play both scales back to back, and solo with both scales over the A7 jam track to hear how they compare in your improvisations.

 

 

7#11 Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

You’re now ready to take this scale off the page and onto the fretboard.

To help you learn to play the 7#11 pentatonic scale on the guitar, here are two shapes to study from a technical and improvisational standpoint.

Start with a metronome, and then when you’re comfortable, put on the backing track and jam over that chord with each 7#11 pentatonic scale shape.

 

A7 Backing Track A7 Backing Track

 

Here are two fingerings for the 7#11 pentatonic scale that you can learn, one from the 5th and one from the 6th strings.

When working these shapes out, make sure to take them to the backing track to help your ears become used to the #11 interval over 7th chords.

 

Click to hear 7#11 pentatonic scale 2

 

7#11 pentatonic scale 2

 

 

7#11 Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

This descending scale pattern will help you learn how to play the 7#11 pentatonic scale around the fretboard, and build your guitar technique in the same exercise.

Work the pattern slowly at first, through both fingerings.

Then, when you feel ready, put on the A7 backing track and try this pattern out in your 7#11 pentatonic scale lines.

 

Click to hear 7#11 pentatonic scale 3

 

7#11 pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

7#11 Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

One of the most common tunes that uses dominant 7th chords in its progression is the 12-bar Blues.

Here’s a sample lick played over the first four bars to a Bb Blues progression.

 

You’ll notice that the #11 interval creates a bit of tension over these chords.

 

But, it’s not too much that you couldn’t use it in your lines over a traditional Blues song.

It just might turn a few heads, and hopefully if you resolve that tension, in a good way.

 

Click to hear 7#11 pentatonic scale 4

 

7#11 pentatonic scale 4

 

7b13 Pentatonic Scale

 

The next pentatonic scale is also used to solo over dominant chords, but in this case you’ll bring a b13 sound to those 7th chords in your solos.

 

The 7b13 pentatonic scale has a wide stretch in it, between the 3rd and #5 in either fingering.

 

So, make sure you go slow and work on that stretch, as it can often mean the different between success and struggling to take this scale onto the guitar and into your solos.

 

 

7b13 Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

There are two ways to think about this scale on the fretboard, with the first being compared to the Mixolydian b13 scale, the 5th mode of melodic minor.

 

When doing so, you’ll remove the 4th and 5th notes of that scale to form the 7b13 pentatonic scale on the guitar.

 

Here’s the interval structure for both scales to use as a comparison.

 

  • Mixolydian b13 – R 2 3 4 5 b6 b7
  • 7b13 Pentatonic – R 2 3 b6 b7

 

The second way to think about this scale is to raise the 5th of the Mixolydian pentatonic scale that you learned earlier in this lesson.

Here’s how those two scales line up on the fretboard so you can hear and see how they are related, yet sound different from an audible standpoint.

 

Click to hear 7b13 pentatonic scale 1

 

7b13 pentatonic scale 1

 

As is always the case when learning a new pentatonic scale, put on the backing track below and solo using the Mixolydian and 7b13 scales to hear how they compare in an improvisational context.

 

 

7b13 Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Now that you know how to build this scale, you can take the 7b13 pentatonic scale onto the guitar in your studies.

When doing so, watch that wide stretch, it can be tough to nail down.

So go slow, use a metronome, and when you’re ready, apply this scale to the backing track below to hear how it sits over a 7th chord in your solos.

 

A7 Backing Track A7 Backing Track

 

Here are the two 7b13 pentatonic scales to learn and take to your soloing practice on the guitar.

 

Click to hear 7b13 pentatonic scale 2

 

7b13 pentatonic scale 2

 

 

7b13 Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

The scale pattern in this section uses a modern-sounding interval collection to test your picking hand on the guitar.

 

There’ll be a lot of note skipping in this pattern as you work your way up and down 7b13 scale shape.

 

Because of this, go slow, use a metronome, and focus as much on your picking hand as your fretting hand when working this pattern out in the woodshed.

 

Click to hear 7b13 pentatonic scale 3

 

7b13 pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

7b13 Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

This sample lick uses the 7b13 pentatonic scale to outline the V7 chord in a major key ii V I progression.

 

As with any melodic minor based pentatonic scale, you can hear the tension created over that chord with the 7b13 pentatonic scale.

 

That tension note, Bb, is resolved down into the A and then to the root of the next chord, G.

Make sure that when you explore this scale in your soloing that you focus on using that tension note, but also resolving it at the same time.

 

Click to hear 7b13 pentatonic scale 4

 

7b13 pentatonic scale 4

 

m9b5 Pentatonic Scale

 

To finish your study of melodic minor based pentatonic scales, you’ll now learn the m9b5 pentatonic scale.

This scale is used to solo over m7b5 chord, which are most commonly found in the im7b5 chords in any minor ii V I progression.

 

When adding this scale to your solos, you’ll bring out a 9th color over that chord, causing a bit of tension along the way.

 

Because this scale uses tension, it’s not as common as the Locrian pentatonic scale you learned earlier.

But.

It can add a nice secondary color to your half-diminished soloing lines.

 

 

m9b5 Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

Related to both the Locrian pentatonic and Locrian #9 scales, the m9b5 pentatonic scale is a great way to outline m7b5 chords in your solos.

As was just mentioned, there are two ways to think about this scale on paper.

 

The first way to build the m9b5 pentatonic scale is to compare it to the 6th mode of the melodic minor scale, the Locrian #9 scale.

 

When doing so, you’ll remove the 4th and 6th notes of the Locrian #9 scale to form the m9b5 pentatonic scale.

Here are those two scales side by side to look at.

 

  • Locrian #9 – R 2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
  • m9b5 Pent – R 2 b3 b5 b7

 

The second way to picture this scale on the fretboard is to compare it to the Locrian pentatonic that you learned earlier.

By moving the 4th down to the 2nd of the scale, you’ll turn a Locrian pentatonic scale into a m9b5 pentatonic scale.

Here’s how those two scales look for a comparison.

 

Click to hear m9b5 pentatonic scale 1

 

m9b5 pentatonic scale 1

 

After learning to play the two sample fingerings above, put on the Am7b5 backing track and solo over that chord with both scales.

This will help you learn the similarities and differences between these two scales in an improvisational setting.

 

 

m9b5 Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

You can now take this cool-sounding m7b5 scale to the fretboard in your practice routine.

As you learn each of the following fingerings, make sure to run them one their own, with the scale pattern below, and over the backing track in your soloing studies.

 

Am7b5 Backing Track Am7b5 Backing Track

 

Here are two m9b5 pentatonic scale shapes that you can learn on the guitar from both a technical and improvisational standpoint.

 

Click to hear m9b5 pentatonic scale 2

 

m9b5 pentatonic scale 2

 

 

m9b5 Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

This m9b5 pentatonic scale pattern uses a triplet rhythm to run up and down the scale.

 

This pattern was a favorite of John Coltrane, who used it in his playing with both pentatonic scales and Jazz arpeggios.

 

Make sure to use a metronome and start at a slow bpm with this pattern.

When running this many triplets in a row, you’ll probably have the tendency to rush through the scale pattern.

Going slow and using a metronome, set to triplets if you can, is the best way to prevent this from happening.

 

Click to hear m9b5 pentatonic scale 3

 

m9b5 pentatonic scale 3.1

 

 

m9b5 Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

To finish your introduction to this scale, here’s a minor ii V I lick that you can learn using the m9b5 pentatonic over the iim7b5 chord.

Notice that the 9th is treated as a lower neighbor tone.

This allows you to use that note, create a bit of tension, but not emphasize the natural 9th too much in your solos.

 

Click to hear m9b5 pentatonic scale 4

 

m9b5 pentatonic scale 4

 

 

Other Pentatonic Scales

 

To complete your study of the pentatonic scales in this guide, you’ll look at two altered dominant scales, once from the harmonic major scale and one from the harmonic minor scale.

Both of these pentatonic scales will add new colors to your 7th-chord soloing lines, and both are essential learning for any Jazz or Fusion guitarist.

So, time to dig into the 7b9 and Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scales in your studies.

 

 

 

7b9 Pentatonic Scale

 

The first altered Dominant scale is the 7b9 pentatonic scale.

 

As the name suggests, by playing this scale over any Dominant-family chord, you’ll bring a b9 sound to your lines.

 

This sound can create a bit, but not too much, of tension in your solos.

Therefore it’s a great first place to start when getting used to adding altered 9ths to your Jazz guitar solos over Standards.

 

 

7b9 Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

With the 7b9 pentatonic scale, you can approach it two ways in the woodshed.

The first way is to think of this scale as the 5th mode of the harmonic major scale.

 

When doing so, you’ll remove the 4th and 6th notes of that scale to create the new, 5-note version.

 

Here are the interval structures for both scales as a comparison.

 

  • 5th Mode HM – R b2 3 4 5 6 b7
  • 7b9 Pentatonic – R b2 3 5 b7

 

You can also think of this scale as a Mixolydian pentatonic scale with the 2nd note lowered by one fret.

Here’s how those two scales look and sound to compare them on the guitar.

 

Click to hear 7b9 pentatonic scale 1

 

7b9 pentatonic scale 1

 

After playing through both scales, put on the A7 jam track and solo over that chord as you move between both scales in your lines.

This’ll help your ears become used to the new sound, and help you visualize both in comparison in a soloing situation.

 

 

7b9 Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Now that you know how to construct this scale, you’re ready to take the 7b9 pentatonic scale onto the fretboard in your practice routine.

Don’t forget to put on the backing track and solo with either of these shapes, or both together, as you learn them on the guitar.

 

A7 Backing Track A7 Backing Track

 

Here are two 7b9 pentatonic scale fingerings that you can memorize, practice the scale pattern with below, and run in your soloing practice exercises on guitar.

 

Click to hear 7b9 pentatonic scale 2

 

7b9 pentatonic scale 2

 

 

7b9 Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

To help get this scale under your fingers, and build your chops, here’s a scale pattern that you can use with the 7b9 pentatonic.

 

Because the fingerings for this scale can be a bit awkward, use a metronome and begin at a slower tempo when first tackling this pattern in the woodshed.

 

From there, raise the tempo and take this scale pattern to your guitar soloing practice as well.

 

Click to hear 7b9 pentatonic scale 3

 

7b9 pentatonic scale 3

 

 

7b9 Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

In this 7b9 pentatonic lick, you’ll apply the scale to the first four bars of a Bb Blues chord progression.

 

Though you’d normally stay inside over the first four bars of a Blues, adding a scale like this to your lines can create excitement and intensity in your solos when needed.

 

Give it a try and see what you and your ears think about this 7b9 pentatonic scale application.

 

Click to hear 7b9 pentatonic scale 4

 

7b9 pentatonic scale 4

 

Phrygian Dominant Pentatonic Scale

 

To finish your studies of altered Dominant pentatonic scales, you’ll learn the Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scale.

 

This scale works great over V7alt chords, as well as over 7th chords when you want to bring a 7b9,b13 sound to your guitar solos.

 

Because it has two tension notes, the b9 and b13, you need to take care and resolve this scale in your lines.

If you don’t resolve this scale, it’ll sound like a mistake.

If you do resolve this scale, it’ll sound like a very hip line.

Go for the hip line option every time.

 

 

Phrygian Dominant Pentatonic Scale Construction

 

To begin your studies of this altered Dominant pentatonic scale, you’ll learn about two ways to build the Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scale from a theory standpoint.

 

The first method is to leave out the 4th and 5th notes of the Phrygian Dominant mode, the 5th mode of the Harmonic Minor scale.

 

Here’s how those scale compare from an interval standpoint.

 

  • Phrygian Dominant – R b2 3 4 5 b6 b7
  • Phryg Dom Pentatonic – R b2 3 b6 b7

 

The second way to build the Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scale is to raise the 5th from the 7b9 pentatonic scale by one fret.

When doing so, you create the interval structure of the Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scale on the fretboard.

Here’s how both of those scales look on the fretboard to compare.

 

Click to hear phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 1

 

phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 1

 

When you’ve listened to the above example, put on the A7alt jam track below and solo using both scales over that chord.

This is the best way to teach your ears the difference between these two scales.

As well, you’ll coach your fingers into recognizing the similarities between these shapes as well as the one-note difference on the fretboard.

 

 

Phrygian Dominant Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

 

Moving beyond your theory studies, you’re now ready to move that theory onto the fretboard.

To do so, you’ll learn two shapes for the Phrygian Dominant scale on the fretboard, one from the 6th and one from the 5th-string.

After you learn either fingering, put on the A7 jam track to hear how that scale sounds when applied to harmony in your solo.

 

A7 Backing Track A7 Backing Track

 

Here are two fingerings for the Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scale that you can learn and apply to both your technical and improvisational practice routine.

 

Click to hear phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 2

 

phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 2

 

 

Phrygian Dominant Pentatonic Scale Pattern

 

Here is a simple, yet effective, scale pattern that you can use to build your chops over the Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scale.

Make sure to run this pattern both with a metronome, and over backing tracks in your solos to get the most out of your time in the practice room.

 

Click to hear phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 3

 

phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 3

 

 

Phrygian Dominant Pentatonic Scale Lick

 

In this sample guitar lick, you’ll use the E Phrygian Dominant pentatonic scale to outline the V7alt chord in a minor key ii V I progression.

 

You’ll notice that you’re hitting the juicy notes of that chord with this scale, the 3rd, b13, b7, and b9.

 

Because of this, you can cause a lot of tension in your guitar solos with this scale.

So, remember to resolve that tension over the next chord in the progression as you apply this scale to your minor ii V I lines and solos.

 

Click to hear phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 4

 

phrygian dominant pentatonic scale 4

 

 

Do you have a question about any of these pentatonic scales? Share it in the comments section below.



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