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Introduction
Pentatonic scales are variations of the major and minor scale. And as the name
implies, pentatonic scales have five notes (with the exception of the blues
pentatonic, but more on that later).

Pentatonic scales are used throughout blues, rock and country music. They’re
probably the simplest scales to play because they have fewer notes than their major
and minor counterparts. So, consequently, they are more common among guitarists.

But just because they are quite common, doesn’t mean they’re stale sounding. No,
no. In fact in the hands of a guitarist like B.B. King, Eric Johnson or Eric Clapton,
they can be simply astonishing.

You will do yourself a great service but doing some serious study of the pentatonic
scales. I can tell you from personal experience that they will always be with you as a
guitarist.

Pentatonic scales have a delightfully “open” quality. This is due to the lack of certain
notes that are found in the diatonic scales (major and minor).

Best of all, pentatonic scales are easy. Well, at least that’s my opinion.
I think they’re easier for one simple reason: they have fewer notes! Think about it.
The diatonic scales and modes have seven notes. Pentatonic scales only have five.
That’s almost 30% less notes!

Anyway, I have laid out everything here for you in a step-by-step manner. Make
sure you do more than just learn the scales. Go the extra mile and learn how to
apply and use the scales. I’ve tried to give you a ton of examples of how to do just
that.

So, grab your guitar, roll up your sleeves and let’s get started!

Cheers,

Dan Denley

Copyright © 2006 by Dan Denley


International Copyright Secured. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without
the prior written permission of the Publisher.

Learn more about Dan Denley here:


www.BluesGuitarSecrets.com
www.MasterBluesGuitar.com
www.AmazingGuitarSecrets.com
Table of Contents
Introduction ....................................................................................................1
Table of Contents .............................................................................................2
Pentatonic minor...........................................................................................3
Blues pentatonic ...........................................................................................4
About the movable patterns in this book .............................................................4
How to visualize the pentatonic scale across the fretboard.....................................5
“What the...?”..................................................................................................5
The 12-Bar Blues .............................................................................................5
How to choose the appropriate scale...................................................................5
Time To Play! ..................................................................................................6
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern 1st position ..................................................7
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern 2nd position .................................................9
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern, 3rd position............................................... 11
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern, 4th position............................................... 13
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern, 5th position............................................... 15
Real-World Ways To Use The Pentatonic Minor Scale .......................................... 16
A Blues Pentatonic.......................................................................................... 21
Real-World Ways To Use The Blues Pentatonic Scale........................................... 27
A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7................................................................. 31
Classic Blues Lick #1 ............................................................................... 38
Classic Blues Lick #2 ............................................................................... 39
Classic Blues Lick #3 ............................................................................... 39
Final Thoughts ............................................................................................... 40

Key To Symbols:

This symbol means, “Go grab your guitar!” And it represents a section where
you need to stop reading and start playing.

This symbol means, “Here’s an important concept!” And it represents a section


where you need to pay close attention to what’s being said.
Two Primary Pentatonic Scales
In the world of blues, rock and pop music there are essentially two primary
pentatonic scales:

• Pentatonic Minor

• Blues Pentatonic (this scale has different versions, but is basically the same)

Each has its own unique role to play (no pun intended) in the guitar world. Here’s
how they compare:

Pentatonic minor
The Pentatonic Minor is built on the natural minor scale. But it leaves out the 2nd
and the 6th degrees. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of A minor and A Pentatonic
minor:

A Minor: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A

A Pentatonic Minor: A, C, D, E, G, A

Notice that the A Pentatonic Minor drops the B and the F. That’s because they are
the 2nd and 6th degrees.
Blues pentatonic
The Blues Pentatonic scale (or sometimes just called the, “Blues scale”) is based
on the Minor Pentatonic scale. There is really only one difference: a flatted 5th.

Now, there are many different variations of the Blues Pentatonic scale. Some include
the 2nd. Some include a raised 7th. But for simplicity’s sake, we’re only going to
discuss two versions of the Blues Pentatonic: the flat 5 and the flat 5, natural seven.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of A minor and A Blues Pentatonic, flat 5:

A Pentatonic Minor: A, C, D, E, G, A

A Blues Pentatonic: A, C, D, Eb, E, G, A

Notice that the only difference between these two scales is the E flat. That’s because
it’s the flatted 5th.

About the movable patterns in this book


Keep in mind that there are only five notes in the minor pentatonic, six in the blues
scale, flat 5 and seven in the blues scale, flat 5, natural 7.

Because the blues scale is based on minor pentatonic (which has only five notes) you
will only have to learn five different positions. Yes! Even though the blues scale has
more than five pitches, it still only has five positions because the flatted 5th and
natural 7 are just passing tones.

A passing tone is a note whose main function is to lead to next note. It’s not a
principle note in the scale, so it doesn’t get its own position.
How to visualize the pentatonic scale across the fretboard
You definitely want to be able to “see” the pentatonic scale across the fretboard. This
will help you move over the fretboard during your solo and improvisations instead of
just being “stuck” in one place. Use the movable patterns in this book to give
yourself a mental image of exactly how to play the scale in its various positions.

“What the...?”

If you’ve taken my Amazing Guitar Secrets™ course, you’ll notice that I’m teaching
this a little differently. After discussing the various approaches to these scales with
my students (approaching 5,000), I’ve decided to simplify a few things. (If you’d like
more information about my this guitar course, visit www.AmazingGuitarSecrets.com)

You’ll notice that I’ve completely eliminated the major pentatonic scale. That’s
because the minor pentatonic is so often used as the tonic in blues, rock and pop
that it’s not necessary to add the major pentatonic to your “bag of tricks.” The fact
is, the minor and blues pentatonic contain thousands of solo opportunities, so I
suggest you focus your energy on mastering these.

The 12-Bar Blues

The famous 12-bar blues is one of the most popular musical forms over which to
solo. It uses 12 measures of three different chords. Usually, the three main chords
are I-IV-V. Notice that all these chords are major (they are also typically dominant).

The standard 12-bar blues has four bars (or measures) of I, two bars of IV,
two bars of I, one bar of V, one bar of IV, one bar of I, followed by one bar of
V. In blues all these chords are usually dominant in quality. This all-dominant
quality poses an interesting challenge to choose an appropriate scale.

How to choose the appropriate scale

In blues there is a tendency to use all (or mostly) dominant chords. All these
dominants require a little change in your thinking on how to choose a scale. For
example, you may see E7, A7, B7 and think, “Hey, I see major chords, I’ll just use
the major scale!” The only problem is that E major has a G#. And when you play G#
over an A7 chord (A, C#, E, G) the G and G# are going to sound like a car-crash.

Now, you might consider using the Mixolydian mode over each chord. After all,
Mixolydian is a dominant mode. Again, I suppose that would work. But that’s going
to be a ton of work. And more importantly, there’s an easier way...

What you want to use is the pentatonic minor or blues scale (which is just
a variation of the pentatonic minor) over your blues and rock progressions.

I know it’s going to take a little getting used to. But trust me, once you “get
it” it’s going to make your life as a guitarist so much easier! So, let me give you a
couple of examples:

 Chord progression: A7, D7, E7. Use A pentatonic minor or A blues.

 Chord progression: Bb, Eb, F. Use Bb pentatonic minor or Bb blues.

 Chord progression: F#m7, Bm7, C#7. Use F# pentatonic minor or F# blues.

 Chord progression: G7, C9, D9: Use G pentatonic minor or A blues.

See how in all the examples above, I simply used the one chord to determine the
key? And once I found the one chord, I just use the corresponding pentatonic minor
scale.

Why this works is not as important as the fact that it works. So make sure you focus
your solos around the pentatonic scale or blues scales and you’ll do fine.

Time To Play!
Ok, now it’s time to turn your head-knowledge into heart-knowledge. Go
grab your guitar and let’s tackle the task of learning these scales.

I’ve given you the tab and standard notation for each scale. Use the movable
patterns to memorize the different positions of each scale.

Once you feel pretty good about your progress, try to take the movable patterns and
start on a note that I have not given you the tab for. Remember, the movable
patterns are meant to be transposed. So, don’t be afraid to branch out and try to
play in some new keys!
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern 1st position
Note: White dots indicate the root note (in this case, A). Black dots indicate other
degrees of the scale. Also, remember that this pattern can be moved any place on
the fretboard. As it’s moved, you are transposing the scale into different keys.

Figure 1

Suggested fingering,1st position


Note: This fingering may not be exactly what is played on the DVD. Because
fingering is largely a personal choice, you can use the fingering below or simply play
what feels most comfortable to you.

Figure 2
Notation for A Pentatonic Minor, 1st position

Figure 3
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern 2nd position
Note: White dots indicate the root note (in this case, A). Black notes indicate other
degrees of the scale. Also remember that this pattern can be moved any place on the
fretboard. As it’s moved, you are transposing the scale into different keys

Figure 4

Suggested fingering, 2nd position


Note: This fingering may not be exactly what is played on the DVD. Because
fingering is largely a personal choice, you can use the fingering below or simply play
what feels most comfortable to you.

Figure 5
Notation for A Pentatonic Minor, 2nd position

Figure 6
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern, 3rd position
Note: White dots indicate the root note (in this case, A). Black notes indicate other
degrees of the scale. Also remember that this pattern can be moved any place on the
fretboard. As it’s moved, you are transposing the scale into different keys.

Figure 7

Suggested fingering, 3rd position


Note: This fingering may not be exactly what is played on the DVD. Because
fingering is largely a personal choice, you can use the fingering below or simply play
what feels most comfortable to you.

Figure 8
Notation for A Pentatonic Minor, 3rd position

Figure 9
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern, 4th position
Note: White dots indicate the root note (in this case, A). Black notes indicate other
degrees of the scale. Also remember that this pattern can be moved any place on the
fretboard. As it’s moved, you are transposing the scale into different keys.

Figure 10

Suggested fingering

Note: This fingering may not be exactly what is played on the DVD. Because
fingering is largely a personal choice, you can use the fingering below or simply play
what feels most comfortable to you.

Figure 11
A Pentatonic Minor, 4th position

Figure 12
A Pentatonic Minor: movable pattern, 5th position
Note: White dots indicate the root note (in this case, A). Black notes indicate other
degrees of the scale. Also remember that this pattern can be moved any place on the
fretboard. As it’s moved, you are transposing the scale into different keys.

Figure 13

Suggested fingering, 5th position


Note: This fingering may not be exactly what is played on the DVD. Because
fingering is largely a personal choice, you can use the fingering below or simply play
what feels most comfortable to you.

Figure 14
Notation for A Pentatonic Minor, 5th position
Figure 15

Real-World Ways To Use The Pentatonic Minor Scale


I never want to be accused of giving you the theory, but not enough practical
examples of how to use it. So, here are three chord progressions that I’ve written for
you to practice improvisational skills.

Each chord progression comes from the major scale. But each is in a different key.
I’ve done the leg-work for you by matching the chord progression to the scale that
you should use to improvise.
How To Use Each Example
Play each chord progression. Create your own rhythmic patterns. Then,
grab a friend and have him play the chord progression while you solo over
the top. Or you could grab a tape recorder from Radio Shack and record
the rhythm guitar part (that’s the chord progression.) Play the rhythm
section and play the scale over it. Improvise your own solo using bends,
trills, vibrato, slides, etc.

Each scale that I’ve given you is in 1st position (i.e., they all start on the tonic, or
root note of the scale.) Try to use the moveable patterns as well. Use them to move
out of the 1st position. Try to incorporate as many different positions as you can.

But most importantly... Have fun!


Example 1: A pentatonic minor
Play this chord progression:

Figure 16

Use this scale to improvise:


Figure 17
Example 2: D pentatonic minor
Play this chord progression:

Figure 18

Use this scale to improvise:


Figure 19
Example 3: E pentatonic minor

Play this chord progression


Figure 20

Use this scale to improvise:


Figure 21
Blues pentatonic, flat 5
The Blues Pentatonic scale (or sometimes just called the, “Blues scale”) is based
on the Minor Pentatonic scale. There is really only one difference: a flatted 5th.

Now, there are many different variations of the Blues Pentatonic scale. Some include
the 2nd. Some include a raised 7th. But for simplicity’s sake, we’re only going to
discuss two versions of the Blues Pentatonic: the flat 5 and the flat 5, natural seven.

Here are all the positions of the blues scale, flat 5:

A Blues Pentatonic

Movable Pattern 1
Figure 22

Suggested Fingering

Figure 23
A Blues Pentatonic, 1st position

Figure 24
Movable Pattern 2
Figure 25

Suggested Fingering

Figure 26

A Blues Pentatonic, 2nd position


Figure 27
Movable Pattern 3

Figure 28

Suggested Fingering
Figure 29

A Blues Pentatonic, 3rd position

Figure 30
Movable Pattern 4
Figure 31

Suggested Fingering
Figure 32

A Blues Pentatonic, 4th position


Figure 33
Movable Pattern 5
Figure 34

Suggested Fingering
Figure 35

A Blues Pentatonic, 5th position

Figure 36
Real-World Ways To Use The Blues Pentatonic Scale
I never want to be accused of giving you the theory, but not enough practical
examples of how to use it. So, here are three chord progressions that I’ve written for
you to practice improvisational skills.

Each chord progression comes from the major scale. But each is in a different key.
I’ve done the leg-work for you by matching the chord progression to the scale that
you should use to improvise.

How To Use Each Example


Play each chord progression. Create your own rhythmic patterns. Then,
grab a friend and have him play the chord progression while you solo over the
top. Or you could grab a tape recorder from Radio Shack and record the
rhythm guitar part (that’s the chord progression. Playback the rhythm section
and play the scale over it. Improvise your own solo using bends, trills, vibrato,
slides, etc.

Each scale that I’ve given you is in 1st position (i.e., they all start on the tonic, or
root note of the scale.) Try to use the moveable patterns as well. Use them to move
out of the 1st position. Try to incorporate as many different positions as you can.

But most importantly... Have fun!


Example 1: E blues minor
Play this chord progression:

Figure 37

Use this scale to improvise:

Figure 38
Example 2: G blues minor
Play this chord progression:

Figure 39

Use this scale to improvise:


Figure 40
Example 3: A blues minor
Play this chord progression:

Figure 41

Use this scale to improvise:

Figure 42
Blues pentatonic, flat 5, natural 7
The Blues Pentatonic scale (or sometimes just called the, “Blues scale”) is based
on the Minor Pentatonic scale. This version of the blues scale uses the flat 5 and
natural 7. Here’s all the positions of the blues scale, flat 5, natural 7:

A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7

Movable Pattern 1
Figure 43

Suggested Fingering
Figure 44

A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7, 1st position


Figure 45
Movable Pattern 2
Figure 46

Suggested Fingering

Figure 47

A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7, 2nd position


Figure 48
Movable Pattern 3
Figure 49

Suggested Fingering
Figure 50

A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7, 3rd position


Figure 51
Movable Pattern 4
Figure 52

Suggested Fingering
Figure 53

A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7, 4th position


Figure 54
A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7, 4th position, 8va lower

Figure 55
Movable Pattern 5
Figure 56

Suggested Fingering
Figure 57

A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7, 5th position


Figure 58
A Blues Pentatonic, Flat 5, Natural 7, 5th position, 8va lower

Figure 59
Bonus Material: Five Classic Blues Licks
I’ve written five classic blues licks for you to add to your arsenal of solo licks. All of
them are in the key of E blues minor. That means that all these licks will work
perfectly for the previous examples.

However, they are easily transposed into other keys. Keep the lick the same, just
move to a different starting note. For example, if you wanted to transpose “Classic
Blues Lick #1” to the key of G blues minor and use it in your example two above,
then here’s what you do: instead of starting on the 14th fret, you’d start on the
17th. Then just add three to each of the other frets and you’ll be playing the key of
G blues minor!

Here’s how I did that:

1. I knew that the lick was in the key of E blues minor.

2. I knew that I was starting on the 14th fret, 3rd sting. That note is A.

3. I asked myself, “Ok, how does A relate to E?” (Because I’m in the key of E
blues minor). Then, I figured out that A is the 4th in the key of E blues minor.

4. Then I said, “Ok, well what’s the 4th in the key of G?” It’s C. So all I have to
do is start on C, which is 17th fret, 3rd string.

5. So, I added three to all the other fret numbers, and “Ta-dah!” I have now
transposed the lick from E blues minor to G blues minor.

Classic Blues Lick #1


Figure 60
Classic Blues Lick #2
Figure 61

Classic Blues Lick #3


Figure 62

Classic Blues Lick #4


Figure 63
Classic Blues Lick #5
Figure 64

Final Thoughts
I hope you’ve enjoyed this book. And more importantly I sincerely hope you’ve
gained a new understanding of the pentatonic scales. They’re awesome. They are in
just about every rock-and-roll and blues solo you’ll ever hear. They’re in practically
every country riff and lick, too. They’re popular for a reason: they sound great!

So, keep up the good work. Practice hard. Play harder. Go make some music.

All the best to you and your guitar-playing future.

Cheers,

Dan Denley