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Major Pentatonic Scale

Major Pentatonic - A 5 note scale (Greek: penta = 5), it's heard in many styles of music, such as all over Oasis albums, in tasty Eric Johnson runs, and lots of hot Country and Pop stuff. It's a bright sounding scale in general and heard in many disguises. Often confused with the Minor Pentatonic, here's the clear basics with demo + practice backing track. 

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Major Pentatonic Scale

This is a scale which is well worth learning, and it's very easy to use effectively. Heard often in Country music, but we'll be concentrating more on the rockier end of things in this particular guitar lesson. A country special featuring this scale will be coming soon.

Notice that it's the same shape as the common Minor Pentatonic scale, but the root note is changed. This makes a HUGE difference to the sound.

Here's a basic position with the note names and some suggested fingering. In general many experienced players using this scale, just use 3 fingers and it sounds great. Feel free to experiment.

Guitar Chart Diagram width=440 height=138
Guitar lesson #1 - C Major Pentatonic Scale

Music Note width=32 height=32 C Major Pentatonic Scale

You can use this scale over a standard C Major family of chords. The C Major family consists of the following chords -

( m = minor, b = flat)

Key of C:

C _ F _ G _ Am _ Dm _ Em _ Bm7b5 <<< this last chord rarely comes up in the beginning.

Mixing and matching 3 or 4 chords from this group will sound well, such as C F G and Am. Here's what the scale looks like in this key, all over the fretboard. The pattern repeats itself after the 12th fret as usual.

Guitar Chart Diagram width=572 height=138
C Major Pentatonic Scale
  • Beginner's Guitar Lesson Tip Don't 4get to print it out - Print n' Play for fast results!

Here's the sound of the Major Pentatonic over a standard C Major chord progression -

C /// : G /// : A minor /// : F ///

Music Note width=32 height=32 C Major Major Pentatonic Scale Solo Demo - "Tonals Oasis"

  • The quickest way to get this scale under your belt, is to print out the diagram above and practice it using the following backing track.
  • Memorize it away from the guitar too

Music Note width=32 height=32 Guitar Lesson - C Major Major Pentatonic Scale Backing Track

  • Don't forget to loop it in your media player and play away.
  • When your hot in the key of C you should start trying these ideas in other keys.
  • Don't forget to add plenty of slides, vibrato, pull-offs and the rest of the gang.
  • If you need to learn these basic but vital techniques, get yourself a good primer
  • It's well worth your while to listen to this scale and these techniques in action together. This is a great way to get the scale sound "in your head"...

To hear a relatively modern slant on this scale it's gotta be...

Oasis CD width=50 height=50

(What's The Story) Morning Glory?

Some die-hard Oasis fans prefer their earlier offering Definitely Maybe .Once again it's chocka-full of Mr. Major Pentatonic Scale. Worth a listen and a study for some players - CDs are the ultimate free Guitar Lesson learning tool.

  • The Major Pentatonic Scale is a shortened version of the C Major Scale (Doh, Re, Me). It doesn't include the 4th and 7th tone, therefore is useable where the full scale is not.
  • It lends itself to a country style, but sounds rocky-ish if the backing chords are beefed up a bit.
  • Noel Gallagher from Oasis uses this scale as his staple diet but he uses it very basically. You can spice it up A LOT. We'll be looking at that soon...
  • This C Major Pentatonic scale sounds great over songs in the key of A Minor. (Same chords as C, different root).

To hear complete mastery over this type of Major Pent Scale, try a copy of Ah Via Musicom by Eric Johnson. You'll hear it often with added "Johnson" notes, tastefully thrown in for astounding good measure!

We'll be looking at ways to spice up this useful tool in a soon-to-follow "Spice Up the Major Pentatonic Fast Quickly!" guitar lesson. Find out Eric's "Secret Note" and more ;-).

Here's a quick demo of our C Major Pentatonic progression done as a little tribute to the late great Philip Lynott and the boys. It's another aspect of this versatile sounding little scale - cheers to The Darkness too for keepin' it real ;-).

This little ditty is also dedicated to The South Bound Band - a great Lizzy Tribute band and more... from the oul' town Dublin. The website is excellent too - buachaill go maith Robbie...

Music Note width=32 height=32 Lizzy Tribute - C Major Pentatonic Scale





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