Oftentimes, Minor Pentatonic scales seem to get the most attention from guitar players. But their Major counterpart, the Major Pentatonic scale, is just as important to learn.
You may be wondering where this pentatonic scale would be applicable in your guitar playing?
It is used most often in Blues, Country, and Bluegrass music, but can be used anywhere you want a Major sound with a little more color.
Major Pentatonic scales also use just 5 notes ("Penta" means 5). The sound has a Major vibe, without being too sickly sweet sounding like Major scales are prone to.
I like to think of it as adding color to songs by taking away notes. Because it only has 5 notes, and not 7 like the Major scale, it puts more emphasis on different notes.
The Moveable Pentatonic Scale
The form I’ll show you is called a movable pentatonic scale. This means by learning this one scale you'll be able to play the Major Pentatonic scale in every key with a 6th string root.
To play this in a different key, just start on the root note of that key.
For example, we're playing this in the key of G because we're starting on the 3rd fret of the 6th string (the G note). If you wanted to play this in the key of A, start on the 5th fret of the 6th string.
The best way to learn this scale is to split it in half. This scale covers two octaves so learn it 1 octave at a time. Here's how to play the G Major Pentatonic scale:
The numbers are the fingers you should use to play each note. The red dots are the root notes.
If you were to play this 1 octave at a time, you'd start on the 3rd fret of the 6th string, and end on the 5th fret of the 4th string. That's the first octave. Give that a try before moving on.
The second octave starts where the first octave ended, on the 5th fret of the 4th string. This octave technically ends on the 3rd fret of the 1st string, but it's nice to play one more note on the 5th fret of the 1st string. Though you don't have to.
How To Practice The G Major Pentatonic Scale
Like I mentioned earlier, start by splitting these up. Practice the first octave all the way up, and all the way down.
Then practice the second octave all the way up and all the way down. When you're comfortable with both, put them together.
You might find that it's easier to play the scale up rather than down. This is completely normal!
Just remember to take it slow and build speed over time.
And that's it! Pretty straightforward, right? In my many years teaching guitar, I've found that even the most difficult lesson or concept can be much easier if it's broken down into manageable sections.
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