How Does a Pentatonic Guitar Scale Work?


Quick Answer

The pentatonic scale has five notes, as opposed to the more traditional seven, and it is played in the same shape at different locations on the fretboard. The pentatonic scale is crucial to playing lead guitar, but it is also helpful for beginners because there are fewer notes to play.

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How Does a Pentatonic Guitar Scale Work?
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Full Answer

To learn the pentatonic scale, begin by playing the scale on one string. For example, start at the fifth fret of the sixth string, which is an A note and the first note in the scale. Move your finger up three frets for the second note and then up two more for the third. For the fourth note, slide your finger up two frets and up three more for the fifth. For the final note, play the fret that is two up from the last one, which should be the seventeenth fret.

Repeat the notes in the reverse direction to complete an A minor pentatonic scale. Use this same pattern to play any other minor pentatonic scale on the guitar. To play a major pentatonic scale on one string, start playing on the second note of the minor scale using the same pattern as the minor scale.

To play a minor scale with four fingers, place the index finger on the sixth string at the fifth fret for the first note. The pinky finger plays the second note on the sixth string at the eighth fret. Continue to play the scale as before except play all notes at the seventh fret with the ring finger and notes on the eighth fret with the pinky finger.

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