Last Updated on May 14, 2019 by Klaus Crow
The major pentatonic scale is mostly used in country, folk country rock, blues and jazz.
It creates a more happy and uplifting sound.
The shapes of the major pentatonic scale are exactly the same as those of the minor pentatonic scale, except the root note is located else where.
Looking at it from the major scale, if you leave out the 4th and the 7th note of the major scale you’ll also end up with the major pentatonic.
The 5 shapes shown below are all the same scale (G major pentatonic scale) just played in different positions, so you can learn the scale all over the neck. That’s the whole purpose, eventually you want to have the freedom to be able to improvise around the entire fretboard.
Each shape has it’s own shape-name C, A, G, E and D, derived from the C-A-G-E-D system. Note: The name of the shapes have nothing to do with the key of the scale. The names refer to the chord shape (made up of the red and green dots) that is surrounded by the scale shape.
If you want to know more about the CAGED system check out: What is The CAGED System? (The Keys to The Fretboard)
In the scale diagrams below the red dots indicate the root notes and the green dots indicate the remainder chord tones.
The root note of each shape determines the name of the scale. In the examples below all the scale shapes are in the key of G, so all the root notes are G notes.
Each shape is moveable so you can play these shapes in every key. For example, if you move the entire scale shape up a whole step (2 frets) you are playing in the key of A, so now you’re playing A major pentatonic. If you move down the entire scale shape down a half step (1 fret) you are playing in the key of F#, so you’re playing F# major pentatonic. The principle goes for all 5 shapes.
Note: When learning to improvise using these shapes try to rest on root notes or chord tones to be safe and avoid any odd sounding notes or let your ears be the judge.
– Practice each scale shape thoroughly before moving on to the next.
– Practice with a pick using alternate picking technique (down, up, down, up, etc.)
– Practice slowly first and make sure each note sounds clean and clear.
– Once you feel comfortable with a slow tempo gradually build up your speed.
– Practice with a metronome.
– Practice the scale shapes in different keys.
Take your time to learn all the shapes. Repetition and regular practice will get you where you wanna be.
G Major Pentatonic – E shape / Position 1
G Major Pentatonic – D shape / Position 2
G Major Pentatonic – C shape / Position 3
G Major Pentatonic – A shape / Position 4
G Major Pentatonic – G shape / Position 5
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