The Dominant Pentatonic Scale - Guitar Lesson with Diagrams and Charts

What is The Dominant Pentatonic Scale?

You surely familiar with the two most known pentatonic scales, the major and the minor. So, let's introduce a misunderstood, but very useful pentatonic scale, the Dominant pentatonic scale. This scale is also known as Mixolydian pentatonic, it contains the four notes of a dominant chord (1-3-5-b7) with a supplementary note, the second (2) which can be seen as the ninth (9) making it a Dominant 9th arpeggio (1-3-5-b7-9). 

G dominant pentatonic scale G A B D F
Formula 1 2 3 5 b7


Comparison With The Mixolydian Mode

The dominant pentatonic scale is a modal pentatonic scale created by removing two notes from the Mixolydian mode. The two notes removed are the fourth (4) and the sixth (6). This scale is an interesting choice for improvising over a dominant chord when you want to highlight the 9.

Mixolydian mode 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Dominant pentatonic scale 1 2 3 X 5 X b7


Comparison With The Major Pentatonic Scale

It is important not to confuse the dominant pentatonic scale with the major pentatonic scale which has a major sixth (6) instead of a minor seventh (b7), that is therefore designed to be played over major chords.

Major pentatonic scale 1 2 3 5 6
Dominant pentatonic scale 1 2 3 5 b7


Dominant Pentatonic Scale Guitar Positions - One Octave Shapes

This how the dominant pentatonic scale look like on the guitar neck. You can see four shapes with notes within the space of one octave.

Dominant Pentatonic Scale Guitar Positions - Two Octave Shapes

The following guitar diagrams show how to play the dominant pentatonic scale within the space of two octaves.

Dominant Pentatonic Scale Guitar Positions - Five Positions

This chart show how to play the five positions of the dominant pentatonic scale in order to cover the whole guitar neck.


Dominant Pentatonic Scale as Tritone Susbtitution

An interesting way to use the dominant pentatonic scale is to play it starting from the b5 of a dominant chord. In other words, on the V7 you can play the dominant 7th pentatonic scale a tritone (three whole tones) away. This is what we call the tritone substitution. For example, for G7 use Db7 pentatonic (Db-Eb-F-Ab-B). This way you will highlight some altered notes as the #11 (b5), b13 and b9.

Db7 dominant pentatonic against the G7 chord

Db7 dominant pentonic scale Db Eb F Ab B
G7 chord #11 b13 b7 b9 3



This lick is taken from the PDF eBook 25 Pentatonic Jazz Guitar Licks.

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Last edited: 10/19/2020