Lesson 4 – Minor Pentatonic Scale Theory


  1. Minor Pentatonic Scale Patterns

  2. Interconnecting the Patterns


The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the student to the Minor Pentatonic scale patterns. The pentatonics are a wonderful tool as they form the basis of all blues and rock improvisation. Even a beginner can and should start practicing these patterns right away.

Minor Pentatonic Scale Patterns


Pattern One

There are five distinct fingering patterns. Since you can visually see the patterns and physically play them, it is relatively easy to memorize them almost immediately. You will memorize and be able to play the patterns fluidly. You need not be concerned with the theoretical aspect at this point, although we will cover a lot of the theory later in these lessons.












Pattern Two

1. The word pentatonic means five tones.

2. All patterns shown are in the key of A. We are repeating the same five notes all over the fretboard. Each pattern consists of the same five tones: A, C, D, E and G (Formula: 1, b3, 4, 5, b7).

3. Pattern 2 is the key pattern – meaning it’s the only pattern starting on the root A.

4. All of the patterns are interconnected (meaning: the end of one pattern is the beginning of the next pattern).












Pattern Three

5. To change to another desired key, all patterns must move an equal distance. In other words, the basic arrangement of the patterns shown below will remain constant regardless of the starting note or key.












Pattern Four

For example, all five patterns as shown in the key of A. If you wanted to play in the key of G, you would move all five patterns down two frets, or one whole step. If you want or need to play in the key of B, then you would move them up two frets, or one whole step from the key of A (as shown above). The important thing to remember is that all 5 patterns are truly movable up and down the fretboard and the position in which you play the patterns is determined by the key.

6. Notice that in each pattern, two notes are played on each string.













Pattern Five

Playing the Patterns

1. Use the 1st (index) and 4th (pinky) fingers for notes that are three frets apart on the same string. Use the 1st (index) and 3rd (ring) fingers for notes that are only two frets apart on same string.

2. Notice also that the higher set of notes of each pattern is the same as the lower set of notes of the previous pattern. In this way, the five individual patterns form a larger single interlocking scale which extends up the fretboard and then repeats itself again.













Interconnecting the Patterns

All five of the minor penatonic patterns can be interconnected to form one large pattern that constitutes the minor pentatonic scale for the entire fretboard. This diagram represents how all five patterns interconnect. Initially, learn all five patterns as separate entities. Then, put the patterns together, and memorize them as one continuous pattern. This is how you eventually want to perceive this scale on the fretboard.













All Five Minor Pentatonic Patterns Shown Interconnected on the Fretboard

Suggested Practice Routine

  1. Practice each pattern for 1 – 2 mins.

  2. When you have achieved some level of fluidity and have truly memorized each pattern, play each pattern up and down the fretboard (one position at a time ). In other words, you repeat the same pattern starting on a different fret position each time.














Total Practice time: 15 -20 mins. per day or until scalding hot.


















Click here to go back to Lesson 3 – Standard Music Notation For The Guitar

Click here to move forward to Lesson 5 – Major Scale Theory











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