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> Solo Challenge: Major Vs Minor Pentatonic, Build a solo using Major and Minor Pentatonic Scale over a Major Chord
The Professor
post Jun 25 2013, 10:57 AM
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Soloing With Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales



When learning how to solo on the guitar, one of the first scales that we check out is the multi-purpose, Pentatonic Minor Scale. This scale can be used over many different chords and progressions, and therefore is a go-to sound for any guitarists regardless of background or style.

While the Minor Pentatonic Scale can be a powerful tool in any guitarist’s tool-belt, sometimes we can over rely on this scale, causing it to lose it’s effectiveness in our lines and phrases. One way to combat this is to begin mixing the Minor and Major Pentatonic Scales together when soloing over specific chords.

In today’s Soloing Challenge, we’ll look at applying the Minor and Major Pentatonic Scales to Major Chords in order to hear how these two scales sound over that chord, and to begin mixing the two in order to expand your soloing vocabulary at the same time.

Let’s begin by looking at how each scale is built, before diving into using these important musical tools to solo over Major Chords.



Building Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales



Before we try soloing with these two common scales, let’s take a look at how each one is built. If you know how scales are constructed, their intervals and how they are similar and different from each other, you can then use that knowledge to your advantage when bringing them into a practical, musical situation.

As well as knowing how to build these scales, I find it helpful to associate a favorite player or genre of music when thinking about scales over certain chords. For example, when I think of the Minor Pentatonic Scale over Major Chords, I think “Bluesy.” When I hear a Major Pentatonic Scale over Major Chords, I think “Country Twang.”

You might have other genres that pop to mind, so feel free to associate any style or player with these sounds as it will help you recall them, and use them effectively, when it comes time to bring them into your soloing ideas.

The Major Pentatonic is built as such:


R 2 3 5 6 R

Or in C it would be:

C D E G A C


As you can see, the C chord is found right inside that scale, C-E-G, which is why you can use a Major Pentatonic Scale to solo over a major chord with the same root, nailing the sound of that chord change at the same time.


The Minor Pentatonic Scale is built as such:


R b3 4 5 b7 R

Or in C it would be:

C Eb F G Bb C


As you can see, there are 2 “Blues Notes” found in the Minor Pentatonic Scale when you apply it to a Major Chord, the b3 and b7. These notes give any Minor Pentatonic lick. when used over Major Chords, that Bluesy, “Classic Rock,” sound that we all know and love.

There are only 2 common notes between these two scales, the Root and 5th, C and G in this key, that link the two scales together. Keep this in mind, as later on in this lesson I’m going to show you a way to create a great-sounding, fun to play with “combination” scale that uses notes from both the Minor and Major Pentatonic Scales at the same time.


Further Reading

Intro to Pentatonic Scales for Guitar

How to Build and Play Major Pentatonic Scales for Guitar

How to Build and Play Minor Pentatonic Scales for Guitar

How to Build and Play Major Triads for Guitar



Soloing With Major vs Minor Pentatonic Scales




Now that you have some background on how to build and use both Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales in your soloing, let’s look at some exercises that you can do in order to mix and match them over a static major chord.

We’ll use a C chord in the following exercises as an example, but feel free to do any/all of these lessons in 12 keys in your own practice routine.


1. Put on a C major chord vamp and solo using only the C Major Pentatonic Scale to build your lines.
2. Put on a C major chord vamp and solo using only the C Minor Pentatonic Scale to build your lines.
3. Put on a C major chord vamp and solo using C Major Pentatonic for 8 bars, then C Minor Pentatonic for 8 bars.
4. Put on a C major chord vamp and solo using C Major Pentatonic for 4 bars, then C Minor Pentatonic for 4 bars.
5. Put on a C major chord vamp and solo using C Major Pentatonic for 2 bars, then C Minor Pentatonic for 2 bars.
6. Put on a C major chord vamp and solo using both the C Major and C Minor Pentatonic Scales mixed together, switching whenever your ears tell you to use one scale or the other.


By soloing over one chord and moving between both scales when building your licks and riffs, you will not only learn to play each scale, but you’ll learn how each scale sounds similar and different when applied to a soloing situation.



The Professor’s Mixed Pentatonic Scale



One of the things that I like to do when using these scales in my solos, is to take notes from each scale and mix them together to form a sort of hybrid-pentatonic scale that has elements of both Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales within it’s construction.

The notes that I like in particular are the Root, 3rd, 5th and 6th from the Major Pentatonic Scale, and the b3 and b7 from the Minor Pentatonic Scale.

This gives you the following intervals.

R-b3-3-5-6-b7-R

Or in the key of C you would have:

C-Eb-E-G-A-Bb-C
When you combine these scales like this, you get a nice mixture of the Major Triad, C E G, and the Blues Notes, Eb and Bb, which bring both a chordal outline and bluesy sound to your lines.

Here are a couple of fingerings to check out to help get you started with this scale.


Attached Image



Put on the backing track below and give this scale a try over top of that chord to see how it sounds to you, and see if you can find the right place to add this hybrid scale to your soloing ideas.



Scale Soloing Challenge!




Now that you’ve worked on these two scales a bit, it’s time to share your work!

Record a short solo over a static chord, C or any key you are comfortable with, using both the Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales to build your riffs and licks during the solo.

Post the audio or video of this solo below and we can check out what you’ve come up with, give some feedback and just enjoy hearing all of the different ideas that people come up with in their solos.

Here is a sample backing track that you can use to solo over, or feel free to create your own and use that for your solo.


Attached File  C_Major_Backing_Track.mp3 ( 6.98MB ) Number of downloads: 815





Do you have a question about Major vs Minor Pentatonic Scales when soloing? If so, feel free to post it in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to help you out any way I can.

This post has been edited by The Professor: Jun 25 2013, 11:01 AM


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MGranada
post Jun 26 2013, 12:17 PM
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Hey all

I did a demo on this subject :

3 chorus of 16 bars each :

1st chorus - major pentatonic
2nd chorus - minor pentatonic
3 rd chorus - mix pentatonic

Major, Minor, Mix Pentatonic

Hope you like it

Cheers

This post has been edited by MGranada: Jun 26 2013, 12:18 PM
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The Professor
post Jun 26 2013, 02:10 PM
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Great stuff man, thanks for posting. Dig the use of the "Professor's Scale" smile.gif


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MGranada
post Jun 26 2013, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE (The Professor @ Jun 26 2013, 01:10 PM) *
Great stuff man, thanks for posting. Dig the use of the "Professor's Scale" smile.gif


Thx Matt, i will try the Professor s scale over a progression to see how it goes hehe.

This post has been edited by MGranada: Jun 26 2013, 04:25 PM
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The Professor
post Jun 28 2013, 08:16 PM
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QUOTE (MGranada @ Jun 26 2013, 04:24 PM) *
Thx Matt, i will try the Professor s scale over a progression to see how it goes hehe.


Cool, if you try it out over a tune or short progression, post some audio and let us hear how it works out. It's a great scale for blues tunes, or over a ii-V-I over the V and I chords, gives them a bluesy feel. Check that out!


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MGranada
post Jun 30 2013, 01:04 PM
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I ve made one improv over a C minor Blues using the Mix Pentatonic.

C Minor Blues Improv - Mix Pent

Cheers
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korblitz
post Jun 30 2013, 06:58 PM
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Please don't take my advice as a personal attack.

I think the guitar is at the same volume as the backing track. The same way for the other backing track. Isn't the guitar solo supposed to stand out of the mix?


This post has been edited by korblitz: Jul 1 2013, 01:55 PM
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MGranada
post Jul 1 2013, 10:30 AM
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QUOTE (korblitz @ Jun 30 2013, 05:58 PM) *
Please don't take my advice as a personal attack.

I think the guitar is at the same volume as the backing track. The same way for the other backing track. Isn't the guitar solo supposed to stand out of the mix?


Maybe yes...maybe no...i think its a question of mixing and editing. Blue or green ? its just a personal taste.For me the guitar is part of the "mix" as you call it.

But the fundamental in this kind of "demos" is to try to apply concepts to progressions or vamps and see how that "works" .

Thanks for the advice.

Looking forward to listen to your recording

Cheers
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The Professor
post Jul 1 2013, 12:44 PM
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Yeah I think mixing is a matter of taste with these items. They're not meant to be professional quality releases, just documenting one's progress as they work on a specific concept or practicing goal. So I think as long as the goal is achieved, even if the recording isn't to the highest standard, then it's a successful endeavor in the practice room to work out material in this fashion.


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