Mastering the minor pentatonic scale

You properly know it already. Every guitarists favourite scale – the minor pentatonic scale. The minor pentatonic scale is an absolute wunderfull tool in your solo and improvisational tool box. But I see a lot of beginner/intermediate guitar players who seem to think that mastering the scale is down by knowing the 5 different box patterns. This is of cause important, but by simply doing this you have by no means mastered the minor pentatonic scale. I should note, that listing EVERYTHING you need to know, in order to master this scale I would have to make an e-book about the subject. This is note the time or the place for that, but this article will give you the most important tools though. Your job is to use the principles behind them and expand them. This will over time give you the ability to truly master the pentatonic scale. 

If you don’t already know all the scale patterns, I have them listed here below.  

I do believe that most of you who are reading this article will already know the pentatonic scales pretty well, so I will not spend much time on how to learn these scales, but how to master them in order for you to use them to create music. 

Learn the sound of the pentatonic scale.

The most important thing you need to realise and accept is that the scale is only a tool for the guitarist to use. If the guitarist does not have the mind to wield that tool, the scale will not bring him any closer to making music with it. The good news is, that you can learn everything needed in order for you to do so. In order for you do really own the scale, you need to know what the scale sounds like and that requires you to train your aural skills. The best way to do this is by listening to the scale degrees separately one note at the time. Start with the root, then the minor third, then the fifth followed by the seventh and the fourth. The way to practice this is explained in this video below:

Video 1:

Sing the notes you are playing

Once you have practiced the exercises above I want you to start practicing the pentatonic scale, while singing/humming the scale degrees. This will strengthen the connection between your brain and your fingers. A lot of guitarists feel that their fingers are dictating what they play. By doing this exercise regularly you will be able to take back control and thereby shorten the distance between you having a melody in your mind and being able to reproduce said melody on you guitar. This is what you need to master to own the pentatonic scale. Take a look at this video to see this in action:

Video 2:

The value of this lesson comes from understanding the principles and not merely from the exercises themselves. If you understand the principles you will be able to learn exactly what to do in order for you to train your ears and fingers to master any scale you desire. 

About the author: Aside from playing guitar and running Bredballe Guitarskole, Janus Buch is also a professional guitar teacher with great experience in teaching students of all levels and all ages. If you are new to the guitar Bredballe GuitarSkole offers the absolute best value for money Beginner Blues Guitar Lessons in Vejle