The minor and major pentatonic scales are well known and generally quite easy to remember. Shown here, they can form the heart of any blues solo.
Sure, you can spend a lifetime learning new scales and shapes, but a ‘think pentatonic’ method is generally much easier; just add extra notes to the easy pentatonic scales to evoke the sound and mood that you’re after.
1. Minor pentatonic: adding the b5th
The b5th can be freely added to the minor pentatonic scale to give an edgier sound. Here, this crucial note is on the 8th fret, third string.
2. Minor pentatonic: adding the major 6th
Here we’re ‘borrowing’ the F# note from the A Dorian mode (A B C D E F# G) to add to the A minor pentatonic scale for a lighter, sweeter sound.
3. Minor pentatonic: adding the major 3rd
Here we’re playing a minor pentatonic lick that resolves on the minor 3rd and then slides the last note up a semitone to the brighter-sounding major 3rd.
4. Major pentatonic: adding the minor 3rd
Guaranteed to get you sounding like BB King, this lick sounds best when bending up from the second step of the major pentatonic scale.
5. Major pentatonic: adding the minor 7th
Play the minor 7th interval by bending the major 6th up until you reach the 7th. You’ll be playing cool, bluesy West Coast Larry Carlton-esque phrasing in no time!
6. Major pentatonic: adding the perfect 4th
Bend the second step of the major pentatonic scale up a minor 3rd (three frets) and you’ll hit the perfect 4th. Sounds great when alternated with a two-fret bend.