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Guitar Scale Theory – Learning the Pentatonic Scale

Guitar Scale Theory – Learning the Pentatonic Scale

How to learn guitar scales:

* 99% of popular music is Pentatonic and Major scales.

* Scales aren’t just for playing guitar solos.

* Rhythm guitar players can benefit from scales too.

Guitar players don’t need to learn a bunch of scales.

Guitar players need to learn the theory behind all the different ways of playing and applying the pentatonic and major scales. When a player learns guitar scale theory properly, they’ll have 99% of the music they listen to covered. That’s the truth! If a guitarist wants to explore additional guitar theory and more exotic scales later, then they’ll have the proper music theory foundation to do it.

Pentatonic Patterns On the Guitar

The pentatonic scale creates the simplest patterns on the guitar neck and the theory behind it makes it very easy to apply. Guitarists use the pentatonic boxes to play melodies, riffs, lead guitar solos and bass lines. All styles of popular music utilize this essential guitar scale including pop, rock, blues, country and jazz. Some classic songs that utilize the pentatonic scale, and make great learning material for any guitar theory program, include:

“Lowrider” War (G minor pentatonic scale)

“Lady Marmalade” Patti LaBelle (G minor pentatonic scale)

“Susie Q” Creedence Clearwater Revival (E minor)

“My Girl” The Temptations (C major)

“Wish You Were Here” Pink Floyd (G major)

“Tweezer” Phish (A minor)

“Purple Haze” Jimi Hendrix (E minor)

“Breakdown” Tom Petty (A minor)

“Pawn Shop” Sublime (E minor)

“Turn Off the Light” Nelly Furtado (E minor)

“Honky Tonk Women” The Rolling Stones (G major)

“Hey Joe” Jimi Hendrix (E minor)

“Yellow Ledbetter” Pearl Jam (E major)

“Sunshine of Your Love” Cream (D minor “blues scale”)

“Baby Please Don’t Go” Them/Van Morrison (F minor “blues scale”)

“Iron Man” Black Sabbath (B minor “blues scale”)

“Roadhouse Blues” The Doors (E minor “blues scale”)

“Heartbreaker” Led Zeppelin (A minor “blues scale”)

“Maggie May” Rod Stewart (D major)

“Sir Duke” Stevie Wonder (B major “blues scale”)

Rhythm Guitar Players Use the Scales Too

The purpose of learning how to play the pentatonic scale, or any scale for that matter, isn’t limited to riffs and solos. Even rhythm players can utilize occasional scale phrases. Guitar theory further teaches that pentatonic scale notes can be added to basic chords and create rich new sounds.

Compose With Guitar Theory

There’s one more thing about learning the pentatonic scale all serious players should take into consideration. The pentatonic isn’t a scale unique to only fretted instruments. All instruments utilize music theory and the pentatonic scale including singers. Many songs have pentatonic vocal melodies, keyboard parts, horn parts and more. These things can be worked out and arranged on guitar with the right music theory knowledge.