minor pentatonic scales over dominant chords

8 Ways to Play The Minor Pentatonic Scale Over a Dominant Chord

minor pentatonic scales over dominant chordsThe minor pentatonic scale is by far the most used scale in the world all styles taken together (jazz, blues, rock, reggae, pop, country).

One of the explanation is given by the structure. Indeed, there are no semi-tones in it. It is easy to play on the guitar and it can be used in a whole lot of very different contexts.

This lesson will show you eight ways to use the minor pentatonic scale over a dominant seventh chord. The principle is easy to understand, this consists in playing the minor pentatonic scale starting on each tone of the Mixolydian scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7).

 This method helps to highlight certain notes and brings interesting colors to your jazz guitar lines depending on you want to play outside or inside.

Mixolydian Mode and Minor Pentatonic Scale

The Mixolydian mode (fifth mode of the major scale) is generally the first choice when you want to improvise over dominant chord (not altered). This is the

It is a major type scale because it is built with a major third (3) and a minor seventh (b7). The Mixolydian mode formula is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7. For simply learning all the following examples are based on the C Mixolydian mode. 

C Mixolydian mode C D E F G A Bb
Formula 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Intervals W W H W W H W


The minor pentatonic scale is the fifth mode of the major pentatonic scale. As it is shown in the following chart below, the minor pentatonic scale is made up of  a Root (1), a minor third (b3), a fourth (4) a fifth (5) and a minor seventh (b7).

As its name implies, there are only five notes. Here is the minor pentatonic scale in the key of A.

A minor pentatonic scale A C D E G
Formula 1 b3 4 5 b7
Intervals W+H W W W+H W


Consonant Pentatonics

Example # 1 - Minor pentatonic scale from the sixth

The first example is to build a minor pentatonic scale from the sixth (or thirteenth) of C Mixolydian. This way, we get an A minor pentatonic scale made up of A, C, D, E and G respectively the thirteenth (13), the root (1), the ninth (9), the third (3) and the fifth (5) of C7.

By playing a minor pentatonic scale built from the sixth of the Mixolydian mode, you highlight the ninth and the thirteenth.

A minor pentatonic scale A C D E G
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord 13 1 9 3 5


WARNING - The eleventh

Using the eleventh (11) over a dominant chord can be a little bit disturbing and dissonant due to the distance between the major third and the fourth (which is the eleventh). However, you can easily play the minor pentatonics that contains an 11th over a 7sus4 chords. 

Example # 2 - Minor pentatonic scale from the second (ninth)

This second example consist in playing a minor pentatonic scale starting on the second (or the 9) of the C Mixolydian mode, which is D. That gives the D minor pentatonic scale built with D, F, G, A and C corresponding to the fifth (5), the minor seventh (b7), the root (1), the ninth (9) and the eleventh (11) of C7.

In other words, when you play a minor pentatonic scale over a dominant 7 chord starting on the second, you bring interesting colors because of the ninth (9) and the eleventh (11).

 D minor pentatonic scale D F G A C
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord 9 11 5 13 1


Example # 3 - Minor pentatonic scale from the fifth 

Here is a third example that uses the minor pentatonic scale starting on the fifth of the Mixolydian mode. Since the fifth of C7 is G, we get the G minor pentonic scale (G, Bb, C, D , F) respectively the fifth, minor seventh, root, ninth and eleventh of C7.

G minor pentatonic scale G Bb C D F
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord 5 b7 1 9 11


Dissonant Pentatonics

Example # 4 - Minor pentatonic scale from the third

Playing a minor pentatonic scale starting from the third of a dominant 7 chord considered dissonant. It must be used with caution because of the presence of the major seventh, which will be very interesting whenever you want to play "outside".

So, the tones highlighted are the major third (3), the fifth (5), the thirteenth (6), the major seventh (7) and the ninth (9) of a dominant 7 chord.

E minor pentatonic scale E G A B D
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord 3 5 13 7 9


Example # 5 - Minor pentatonic scale from the root

Playing a minor pentatonic scale over a dominant 7 chord that share the same root (which is a major chord) is surely the most favoured tool used by bluesmens. However, it sounds very dissonant because of the minor third (b3) and the fourth (11) and will be a very interesting device you want to play "outside" over a dom7 chord.

 C minor pentatonic scale C Eb F G Bb
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord 1 b3 11 5 b7


Example # 6 - Minor pentatonic scale from the major seventh

This minor pentatonic scale when played starting on the major seventh of a dominant seventh chord, contain two interesting dissonant notes, the major seventh (7) and the sharp eleventh (#11). 

B minor pentatonic scale B D E F# A
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord 7 9 3 #11 13

Outside Pentatonics

Example # 7 - Minor pentatonic scale from the fourth

A minor penatonic scale starting on the fourth of a dominant scale obviously highlights the major eleventh (which is dissonant against the major third) and also contain two other dissonant tones as the flat thirteenth (b13), and the minor third (b3).

 F minor pentatonic scale F Ab Bb C Eb
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord 11 b13 b7 1 b3


Example # 8 - Minor pentatonic scale from the minor seventh 

And the last one consist in playing a minor pentatonic scale starting on the minor seventh of a dominant chord. The tones are highlighted are minor seventh (b7), the flat ninth (b9), the minor third (b3), the eleventh (11) and the flat thirteenth.

Bb minor pentatonic scale Bb Db Eb F Ab
Analysis compared to a C dominant 7 chord b7 b9 b3 4 (11) b13


There are some additional tips and tricks to use the pentatonic scale over a dominant 7 chord. For example, starting from minor second (b2), from the sharp eleventh (#11),  the minor third (b3), the sharp ninth (#5).

Try to apply these tips to your guitar improvisations and don't be afraid to experiment your own outside lines. It is indeed on evident that you have to work in twelve keys all over the guitar neck.

  • Guitar Scale Dictionary

    This E-book is a printable PDF method including over 700 scale diagrams and formula charts for guitarists.
  • 30 Groovy Jazz Guitar Licks

    This downloadable package contains a PDF WITH audio files giving access to 30 groovy guitar phrases mixing jazz, blues and funky licks for beginners.
  • Guitar Chord Dictionary

    This PDF eBook provides over 550 guitar chord shapes. This is the perfect reference guide to understand how chords are built and how to play them on the guitar neck.
  • 172 Arpeggio Shapes For Guitar

    This printable PDF is a method dedicated to guitarists of all styles who want to learn the most important types of arpeggios.
  • 126 Triad Chord Shapes

    This handbook for guitar players is intended both for teachers and students. It includes 126 guitar shapes for mastering triads.
  • 30 Minor Arpeggio Licks

    This package includes a printable PDF method containing 30 exercises with tabs, staves and audio files for practicing minor arpeggios on guitar.
  • II V I Bundle - 170 Exercises

    This bundle contains 4 PDF methods for a total of 170 exercises with tabs, staves, analysis & audio files for practicing scales, arpeggios licks & chords over the 2-5-1 progression.
  • Diatonic Licks Bundle

    This package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
  • 30 Smooth Jazz Guitar Licks

    In this package you'll get a printable PDF Method with tabs, notation, analysis, scale shapes and audio files for practicing 30 smooth jazz guitar licks.
  • 40 II V I Jazz Guitar Licks

    This pdf method for guitar contains fourteen 2 5 1 jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
  • 50 II-V-I voicings

    This printable PDF guitar method provides 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab and staves for learning major 2-5-1 chord voicings.
  • 40 Minor 2 5 1 Chord Voicings

    This PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
  • 40 Minor II V I Licks

    This guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor 2 5 1 jazz patterns.
  • 40 Mixolydian Jazz Guitar Lick

    PDF guitar method with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
  • 40 Minor Jazz Guitar Licks

    This printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
  • 40 Major Jazz Guitar Licks

    Printable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
  • Guitar Walking Bass Lines

    This jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
  • 101 Dominant Arpeggio Patterns

    This printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
  • 49 Essential Jazz Lines

    This printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians. Tab, standard notation, audio files & analysis.
  • 11 Jazz Blues Studies

    11 jazz blues chord studies with tabs, standard notation, analysis, and audio recordings and PDF.
  • 10 Easy Fingerstyle Blues

    This PDF with Tabs and audio files provides 10 easy acoustic fingerstyle blues guitar studies for kids and beginners.
  • 25 Altered Jazz Guitar Lines

    This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
  • 40 Blues Dominant Patterns

    This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis, audio files and scale charts.
  • Mastering Pentatonic Scales

    This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
  • 25 Soul Jazz Guitar Licks

    You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson. These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
  • 25 Diminished Patterns

    This eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
  • 6 Tritone substitution licks

    This Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.
  • 10 Minor 7 Arpeggio Patterns

    This printable PDF eBook offers 10 easy minor 7 arpeggio patterns with its related YouTube video for beginner guitarists.
  • 10 Easy Major 7 Arpeggio Licks

    This is a printable PDF for beginner jazz guitar players providing 10 easy licks to practice major 7 arpeggios.
  • 10 Chord Melody Lines

    Within this package, you'll discover a set of ten chord melody exercises for beginners. Printable PDFaudio files, a backing track, and a link to the associated YouTube video.
  • 10 Minor Blues Scale Licks

    You'll find here a PDF with 10 easy jazz guitar licks to practice the minor blues scale on guitar.

guitar scales outside playing dominant chords inside playing


Add a comment




Free pdf guitar