How To Build Major Pentatonic Scales, Learn to build and play major pentatonic scales on guitar
The Professor
May 30 2013, 08:08 AM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
What Are Major Pentatonic Scales

Usually the first scale any guitarist learns when beginning their exploration of the lead side of the instrument is the Minor Pentatonic Scale. While this scale can cover a lot of ground when soloing over songs, there are some moments where you want a Pentatonic vibe in your playing, but want a “brighter” sound to your lines.

This is where the Major Pentatonic Scale comes in.

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at the theory behind the Major Pentatonic Scale, how it is built, how to apply it to your soloing and a few common fingerings that you can explore in the practice room.

How to Build a Major Pentatonic Scale

The Major Pentatonic Scale is built from the following interval pattern.

Root - 2 - 3 - 5 -6

You can see these notes laid out in tab and notation for an C Major Pentatonic Scale here.

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You can also think of the Major Pentatonic Scale as being a fragment of the corresponding Major Scale.

If you have a C Major Scale, C D E F G A B, and you take out the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes, C D E G A, you now have a C Major Pentatonic Scale.

To apply this scale in a soloing situation, you can use the Major Pentatonic Scale over major, maj7, maj6, maj9, maj6/9, 7th, 9th and 13th chords.

2 Common Major Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

To help get you started, here are two common fingerings for the C Major Pentatonic Scale, one with a 6-string root, and one with a 5-string root.

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Try memorizing these scales in the key of C first, then take them to the other 11 keys around the neck as you expand on these scale shapes in your guitar practice routine.

Major Pentatonic Scale Practice Guide

To finish up, here are a number of ways that you can practice Major Pentatonic scales in order to get the fingerings, and theory, behind these scales under your fingers and into your guitar playing.

1. Sing the root note, C for example, and play the corresponding Major Pentatonic Scales over that root.
2. Play a root note on the guitar, C for example, and then sing the corresponding Major Pentatonic Scale over that root note.
3. Say the note names, or interval numbers, such as C D E G A or 1 2 3 5 6, as you play and sing the notes in the above exercises.
4. Put on a static vamp, C7, C, C9, C7 or C13 for example, and practice soloing over those chords using the related Major Pentatonic Scale as the basis for your solo.
6. Repeat any/all of the above exercises in all 12 keys.

Do you have a question or comment about Major Pentatonic Scales? If so, share them in the comments section below this thread.

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