The Minor Pentatonic Scale | Guitar Lesson with Diagrams

The minor pentatonic scale is the fifth mode of the major pentatonic scale.

It is widely used in various genres, including blues, rock, jazz, and pop.

Comprising five notes per octave, it is derived from the natural minor scale by omitting the second and sixth degrees.

This results in a scale that is easy to play on many instruments, especially the guitar, and is known for its versatile, soulful, and somewhat melancholic sound.

The minor pentatonic scale is essential for improvisation and soloing, providing a framework that is both simple and expressive, making it a favorite among musicians of all levels.

This lesson provides charts, shapes and exercises to understand it and practice it on guitar.

Minor Pentatonic Scale Formula

As its name implies, the minor pentatonic scale is made of five notes ("penta" means "five and tonic means "notes"). Giving the interval pattern  Tonic (1) - minor third (b3) - fourth (4) - fifth (5) - minor seventh (b7).

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

One Octave Shapes

There are many ways to play the minor pentatonic scale on guitar. The most simple is to play it within the space of one octave starting from the tonic (1), ascending and descending. 

Minor pentatonic scale guitar charts

Two Octave Shapes

These two guitar neck diagrams show you how to play the minor pentatonic scale within two octaves in order to cover the six strings.

Minor pentatonic scale guitar positions

Five Positions of The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The minor pentatonic scale can be learned using what is called "Boxes".

Each boxe of the diagram represent a minor pentatonic scale position.

This technique is very useful to practice diagonal playing and position shifts. 

Minor pentatonic scale guitar shapes

Difference Between Major Pentatonic and Minor Pentatonic

The minor pentatonic scale interval pattern is 1 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b7 whereas the major pentatonic scale formula is 1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6.

They have only two chord tones in common, the tonic (1) and the fifth (5).

Relative Major

The minor pentatonic scale as a relative major which is the major pentatonic scale. Meaning that these two scales are built with the same notes.

Major and minor pentatonic scale 1

The minor pentatonic scale starts on the sixth of the major scale. Conversely, the major scale starts on the b3 of the minor scale.

The two guitar shapes below show the relation between the A minor pentatonic scale and its relative major (C major).

As you can see and hear, their can be two pentatonic scale in the same pattern. The tonic determines the tonality.

Minor pentatonic scales guitar relative major

Difference Between Minor Pentatonic and Minor Blues Scale

The minor blues scale is no more and no less than the minor pentatonic scale with a supplementary note.

You need to know that there are three types of minor blues scales depending on the added note.

The most used is the minor blues scale with a b5 between the fourth (4) and the fifth (5).

Minor pentatonic scale vs minor blues scale

The second type of minor blues scale has a major third (3) between the b3 and the fourth.

Whereas the third type has a major seventh (7) between the b7 and the tonic.

Minor pentatonic scale versus minor blues
Minor pentatonic scale vs minor blues

5 Easy Minor Pentatonic Patterns

The first two patterns are built with the G minor pentatonic scale (G - Bb - C - D - F).

Minor pentatonic scale guitar pattern 2

Minor pentatonic scale guitar pattern 1

 

Here are three other lines built with the A minor pentatonic scale (A - C - D - E - G).

Minor pentatonic scale guitar pattern 4

Minor pentatonic scale guitar pattern 5

Minor pentatonic scale guitar pattern 3

Minor Pentatonic Scale And Chords

Basically, minor pentatonic scale are played over minor chord types as : minor (m), minor 7 (m7), minor 11.

Here are five examples that show how to mix the minor pentatonic scale with minor seventh chords. 

The first lick is based on the A minor pentatonic scale linked to a drop 3 min7 chord.

Minor pentatonic scale and guitar chords 1

 

This second tab uses the D minor pentatonic scale and a drop min7 chord.

Minor pentatonic scale and guitar chords 4

 

D minor pent. with a drop 3 min7 chord with root note on the sixth string.

       Minor pentatonic scale and guitar chords

 

G minor pentatonic scale with a Gm7 drop 2 voiced with root on the fourth string.

Minor pentatonic scale and guitar chords 3

 

E minor pentatonic with drop 2 Em7 chord.

Minor pentatonic scale and guitar chords 5

Minor Pentatonic Scale Over II V I Progressions

Here are three exercises showing how the minor pentatonic scale can be used in a major 2 5 1 progression.

In the first example you will play D minor pentatonic scale over the ii chord (Dm7). 

Minor pentatonic 2 5 1 lick 1

As you can hear in the lick below, playing Bb minor pentatonic over G7 outlines interesting altered tones as the b13, b5, #9 and b9.

Minor pentatonic 2 5 1 lick 3

In this last line Em pentatonic is played over Dm7 in order to highlight the ninth (9), eleventh (11) and thirteenth (13).

Minor pentatonic 2 5 1 lick 2

Soul Jazz Guitar Lick

Here is a soul, jazz guitar lick using notes from the Bb minor pentatonic scale (B- D- Eb - F - Ab)

It starts and ends with a perfect fourth (F-Bb). This lick is taken from the 25 SOUL JAZZ GUITAR LICKS PDF Method 

Soul jazz guitar minor pentatonic lick

Kenny Burrell | Minor Pentatonic Jazz Blues Licks

Here are 10 easy guitar lines using the C minor pentatonic scale transcribed from Kenny Burrell's guitar solo on "Chitlins con carne" from the album midnight blue. 

Chitlins Con Carne - Kenny Burrell

Chitlins Con Carne is a jazz blues tune in C7 mainly built with the C minor pentatonic scale.

This is a good example to demonstrates how the minor pentatonic scale can be played on an entire blues tune and mixed with dominant chords.

Boogaloo Boogie - Big John Patton

Boogaloo boogie is one of the most famous tune of Big John Patton jazz, blues organist. It has been recorded by Stanton Moore with guitarist Charlie Hunter on the album "All Cooked Out".

The theme contains a repetitive G minor pentatonic line mixed with some rootless dominant seventh chords and chords in fourths.

  • 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.
  • Mini Lesson 01 (ML 01)

    You'll find a mini guitar lesson about walking bass lines and chords containing a PDF with tab, score analysis, shapes, a video and a guitar pro file.
  • Mini Lesson 02 (ML 02)

    In this mini jazz guitar lesson you will learn how to play easy and cool jazz lines over basic chord changes found in jazz. Pdf, tab and video included.
  • Mini Lesson 03 (ML 03)

    With this short lesson you will learn how to play and connect basic guitar arpeggios over a diatonic chord progression.
  • Mini Lesson 04 (ML 04)

    This is a downloadable package with PDF, Tab, guitar pro file and video to practice guitar arpeggios over a jazz blues chord progression.
  • Mini Lesson 05 (ML 05)

    This downloadable package provides a PDF with Tab/score, a guitar pro file and a short video for practicing guitar arpeggios on a jazz blues progression in Bb.
  • Mini Lesson 06 (ML 06)

    This package for guitarists contains a PDF with tab, video, backing track and guitar pro file for practicing arpeggios over a basic jazz blues progression.
  • Mini Lesson 07 (ML 07)

    With this mini guitar lesson you will learn how to superimpose arpeggios over a diatonic chord progression. Video, pdf, jamtrack and guitar pro file included.
  • Mini Lesson 08 (ML08)

    Mini lesson with PDF, guitar pro file, video and backing track for practicing scale and arpeggio connections over a Bb jazz blues progression.
  • Mini Lesson 09 (ML09)

    This mini lesson is a downloadable package containing a PDF, video, backing track and guitar pro file of a jazz blues progression study in B.
  • Mini Lesson 10 (ML 10)

    This mini guitar lesson provides a printable PDF with tab/notation, video, backing track and guitar pro file for practicing open triads over Fly Me To The Moon.
  • Mini Lesson 11 (ML 11)

    This guitar lesson is a package inlcuding a PDF transcription with analysis, a short video, a backing track and a guitar pro file to learn to play jazz solo lines over Blue Bossa.
  • Guitar Arpeggios Poster

    This giant guitar poster for any guitar player, student or instructor contains colorful arpeggio diagrams. Giant size 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90 cm).
  • Guitar Scales Poster 24*36

    Guitar posters and wall art with eighteen neck diagrams representing the most used scales in music.
  • Jazz Guitar Chords Poster

    This printed color posters contains 63 guitar chord diagrams for jazz players, students, teachers and schools.
  • Guitar Modes Poster

    Guitar reference posters and wall art about modes of the major scale for guitar teachers, students and music schools.
  • Melodic Minor Modes Poster

    Educative and decorative giant guitar poster with neck diagrams, interval names about the seven modes of the melodic minor scale.
  • Pentatonic Scale Guitar Poster

    This guitar reference poster shows the positions and intervals of the major pentatonic scale.
  • Guitar Notes Poster

    This is a giant poster showing the notes on the guitar fret board and their positions on a musical staff.
  • Triads Guitar Poster

    This reference poster show the positions and intervals of the main triads used on guitar. This is a useful tool for guitarists, teacher and students.
  • Four Archtop Guitars Poster

    This is a decorative poster with four archtop jazz guitars. Several size and colors in landscape format available on Teespring and redbubble.
  • Intervals On Guitar - Poster

    This giant poster for guitar provides neck diagrams with interval positions.

Last edited: 2024-06-27

Add a comment

 

WELCOME,

CLICK THE IMAGE TO GET YOUR FREE PDF

Free pdf guitar