The minor pentatonic scale is responsible for countless little licks that make you recognize songs. This is the first scale every guitarist starts out improvising with because it’s so easy to remember and play.
This is another scale that stems from the major scale.
Natural Minor Scale
The Minor Pentatonic’s Mother
The Natural minor scale is the mother scale for the minor pentatonic scale.
This scale comes from the 6th note of the major scale. Every major scale has a relative minor scale the starts on the 6th note of the major scale. It will have the same number of sharps and flats and share the same key signature.
Here is how the natural minor scale sounds
The A Minor natural scale
The Minor Pentatonic
This scale coming from the natural minor scale is a short version leaving out the 2nd and 6th notes.
You may see this scales numbers shown like this 1 3b 4 5 7b. They are using the major scale to show how it is built. This is common, most chord formulas are shown this way. I used the natural minor scale to show you because that is where the minor penta scale comes from.
This is a very useful scale for improvising in any type of music
The A Minor Pentatonic Scale
Minor Penta Patterns
These patterns are just like the major pentatonic except that the root is different. You can see that part of one pattern is in the next pattern. This will help you play all the way up the neck.
You can start with any pattern and go in either direction up or down. The 5th pattern has part of the first pattern in it. It’s a circle like the major scales.
Nut is on top, 6th string on your left
Patterns for Left-Handers
Nut is on top 6th string on your right
Relative Major Scale
Every minor penta scale has a relative major scale. This is just like the major scales. They have a relative minor scale built from the 6th note in the major scale.
We can do it a little different with the pentatonic scales. If you play an A minor penta scale your relative major scale is C a minor third or 3 frets upward.
If you use pattern 1 the minor root is played with your first finger and the major root is played with the fourth finger.
If the chord your are playing over is a C you would use the C note as your “home” note. The minor scale works over major chords for improvising but the major doesn’t work as well over minor chords.
The minor third note is also the augmented 9th note which may be why it works that way. The augmented 9th chord was made popular for non jazz guitarist’s by the Jimi Hendrex’s song “Stone Free”.