What Are Locrian Pentatonic Scales, Learn to build and play locrian pentatonic scales on guitar
The Professor
Jun 9 2013, 02:03 PM
Theory Instructor
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What Are Locrian Pentatonic Scales

Usually the first scale any guitarist learns when beginning their exploration of the lead side of the instrument, the Minor Pentatonic Scale is both one of the easiest scales to play on guitar, and one of the trickiest to make sound unique and original when applied to a soloing situation.

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at the theory behind a pentatonic scale that is closely related to the Minor Pentatonic Scale, but that can be used to solo over m7b5 chords, this is the Locrian Pentatonic Scale.

How to Build a Locrian Pentatonic Scale

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

Root - b3 - 4 - b5 -b7

You might notice that this scale is only one note different from the Minor Pentatonic Scale, the 5th note has simply been lowered by a fret, 1 half-step. This can be a useful tool when learning and applying this scale to your playing.

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

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

If you have an A Locrian Scale, A Bb C D Eb F G A, and you take out the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th notes, A C D Eb G, you now have a Locrian Pentatonic Scale.

2 Common Locrian Pentatonic Scale Fingerings

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

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

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Locrian Pentatonic Scale Practice Guide

To finish up, here are a number of ways that you can practice Locrian 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, A for example, and play the corresponding Locrian Pentatonic Scales over that root.
2. Play a root note on the guitar, A for example, and then sing the corresponding Locrian Pentatonic Scale over that root note.
3. Say the note names, or interval numbers, such as A C D Eb G or 1 b3 4 b5 b7, as you play and sing the notes in the above exercises.
4. Put on a static vamp, Am7b5 for example, and practice soloing over this chord using the related Locrian Pentatonic Scale as the basis for your solo.
5. Repeat any/all of the above exercises in all 12 keys.

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

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