The Major Pentatonic Scale

The major pentatonic scale is the third essential scale. It’s a scale used very commonly in almost all genres of music and is an important scale to know for all guitar players.

What Is A Pentatonic Scale?

A pentatonic scale put simply, is a scale comprised of five notes. These notes all come from the major scale and the minor scale.

How The Major Pentatonic Scale Is Made

The major pentatonic scale comes directly from the major scale. All you have to do is remove the 4th and 7th scale degrees from the major scale. Once these two notes are removed, you’re left with a major pentatonic scale. In a C major scale, the 4th scale degree is an F and the 7th is a B. Remove these two notes and you’re left with C D E G A, which is a C major pentatonic scale.

How The Major Pentatonic Scale Is Made

Relative Major & Minor Pentatonic Scales

Just like the major scale, the major pentatonic scale has a relative minor pentatonic scale. This can be found using the same method used to find the relative minor of the major scale. The relative minor pentatonic of the C major pentatonic scale is A minor.

Check out this article on The Major Scale if you need more clarification.

C Major & A Minor Pentatonic Scales

Here are the most commonly used shapes for the C major pentatonic and A minor pentatonic scales. The black dots represent the root notes (the C notes in the C major pentatonic scale and the A notes in the A minor pentatonic scale) of each scale.

C Major & A Minor Pentatonic Scales

Extended C Major Pentatonic Scale

Since the C major and A minor pentatonic scales share the same notes, we can put the two shapes together to create an extended C major pentatonic scale shape.

Extended C Major Pentatonic Scale

The C Major Scale & The C Major Pentatonic Scale

One of the great things about this scale shape is that if you know the C major extended scale, then you already know the C major pentatonic version. It just omits the 4th and 7th scale degrees. The red notes (and the black notes) dictate which notes are pentatonic within the C major scale.

C Major & C Major Pentatonic

Extended Scale Horizontal View

Here’s another way to look at the C major pentatonic scale shape. Note the red (pentatonic) and black (root) notes within the major scale shape.

Major Pentatonic Scale Horizontal View

Using The Extended Major Pentatonic Scale Shape In Other Keys

Just like the major scale, you can move this entire shape to other keys as well. Just move the entire shape so that the root notes line up with the root note of the key you want to play in. If you wanted to use this scale shape in the key of E major, you would move the entire shape up 4 frets.

Are you looking for more lead guitar lessons and relevant jam-tracks? Guitareo is Nate Savage’s step-by-step video training system. It has some great songs for lead guitar and it also covers many other important styles of music including rock, country, fingerstyle, metal, classical, bluegrass, jazz, and more. Best of all it includes a huge library of original jam-tracks so you can apply everything to music.