One way to make your solos more melodic is to include both the major and the minor pentatonic scale. Before we do this, we have to understand a few things about scales and how they work.


A Minor

The first scale we are going to look at is the A minor scale. The A minor scale is a 7-note scale containing the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, & G. This scale is the relative minor of the C major scale. It contains the exact same notes as C major, but it starts on the A note. We can build a pentatonic minor off of this scale. This will give us the notes:


  • A Pentatonic Minor - A, C, D, E, G

The pentatonic minor scale is a five-note scale that is derived from the A minor scale. It is used in all sorts of music, including blues, rock, country, jazz, metal, and many other guitar styles. It is one of the most recognisable scales that we use when writing a guitar solo. Thousands of guitar solos are written with the pentatonic minor scale.


Soloing in A Pentatonic Minor

Below is the main position of the A pentatonic minor scale. You probably already know this scale is it is one of the first ones that is taught to a guitar player.


Thick string to thin string: () = root note

  • 5 (A)-8
  • 5-7
  • 5-7(A)
  • 5-7
  • 5-8
  • 5 (A)-8

We are starting out on the 6th string at the 5th fret. This note would be the A note. You then follow along with the other notes in the scale. The notes in brackets are the root notes, and in this case, A.

When soloing in a pentatonic minor, you have to centre your lead lines around the A note for the most part. This is what gives it the pentatonic minor sound.

There is an easy way to create a pentatonic major scale. All we are going to do is to move it down three frets.

Here is how you do this.


A Pentatonic Major

A pentatonic major comes from the F sharp major scale. We do not need to know the key signature of the F sharp major scale because we are not going to play it.

What we are going to do is to get the A pentatonic major from the scale which gives us the notes:


A Major Pentatonic Notes: A B C# E F#

We now play this scale at the second fret. This is the exact pattern for the F sharp pentatonic minor scale, but in this case, we are going to be stressing the A note and not the F sharp note. This is what will make the scale A pentatonic major.

Thick string to thin string: () = root note

  • 2-5 (A)
  • 2-4
  • 2-4
  • 2(A)-4
  • 2-5
  • 2-5 (A)

When playing A pentatonic major, make sure you are playing that A note and not the F sharp. If your line is centred on the F sharp, then you will be playing F sharp pentatonic minor and not A pentatonic major. It is the location of the root note, which is critical.

You may notice that the “Shape” of this pentatonic scale is the same as the minor version but starting on the 2nd fret instead.


Combine A Minor Pentatonic and A Major Pentatonic

Play a lick in A pentatonic minor and land on the A note at the 7th fret, 4th string.

Now do the same lick but play it at the second fret in the A pentatonic major position and land on the A note on the second fret, third string. Notice the difference in the sound.

This is how you can create expressive and melodic sounds. You can combine the major and the minor pentatonic together. Take any minor pentatonic scale and move it down three frets, and you will be at its corresponding major pentatonic position. It does not matter where you start because you will always hit the major pentatonic if you move the position.

All you need to be aware of is where the root notes are.

This is why it is important to memorise the fretboard, so you know where all the root notes are for the key you are in. Once you get a handle on the root notes, then it is much easier to bring these scales together.


Do not try to do everything all at once. Stick to one position of the pentatonic minor scale first. Once you have this down, you can work on the other positions.

After you memorise all the pentatonic minor positions, try playing the major pentatonic positions. Once you know all the minor pentatonic positions, you automatically know all the major pentatonic positions because it is just a matter of moving the positions back and forth.

Guitar players such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and others are masters at combining the major and the minor pentatonic.


Conclusion

You will have more melody to your solos if you combine the major and the minor pentatonic. You do not have to do this all the time. Some solos will sound better with just minor pentatonic, while others will sound better with just major pentatonic.

Combining both of them together will give you more melody and more options when soloing.


Recommended for you

There’s one thing that throws every beginner into a fit of rage

Read More

Everyone is searching for things that make them happy. Whether that's binge

Read More

A student asked me this question this week… “Darryl, what’s the best

Read More

It’s no secret that singing and playing seems hard. Now I’m not

Read More
Leave a Reply
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe now to get the latest updates!