To kick off our series on the pentatonic scale, we look at what it is, and the fact that there are two different types... Major & minor! These are totally different scales and must be treated differently, even though they are both pentatonic scales.

Summary: The Pentatonic scale

A pentatonic scale is a 5 note scale, rather than our more usual 7 note major or minor scales. The pentatonic is very much based on the 7 note major / minor scale, but only uses 5 of the 7 notes to construct it. It therefore shouldn't be too surprising that the pentatonic has a major and minor, just like the full 7 note major and minor scales.

Theory: Why does it sound so good?

The really cool thing about the 5 note scale vs the 7 note, is that you have no semi-tone notes. All the notes in a pentatonic scale are either a tone or tone and a half apart, and therefore it is quite tricky to find any clashing notes when playing over a basic chord structure. This is one of the reasons why guitarists often gravitate towards this scale when soloing, as every note should sound great all the time!

Ready to move on – remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

The Major Pentatonic

Let's now dive in to take a look at the major pentatonic scale. For lot of guitarists it will be pretty strange to hear the major pentatonic, as the minor is so commonly used in blues and rock. However, this scale plays a key part in a variety of genres, including blues and rock, so it must be learnt!