How to Boost Your Lead Lines with the Minor Pentatonic Scale

The minor pentatonic scale is probably the most-used, most-heard, most-seen, and most-demonstrated scale in the rock guitar world. If your goal is to learn some rock, blues or pop tunes, or if you are already practicing with our app Fretello Lead, then you are already familiar with the minor pentatonic scale.

Minor pentatonic scales show up everywhere in rock music. Top classic songs from bands like Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, and Foo Fighters feature minor pentatonic scales again and again.

Why Start With the Minor Pentatonic Scale?

In the same manner that learning to write helps you read and learning to read helps you speak, learning the minor pentatonic scale will help you learn, memorize, and master material from all over the rock genre. New riffs, licks, and solos that you learn will be far easier to conceptualize and digest if you can see where they’re coming from. On top of that, when you want to improvise or compose your own riffs, licks, or complete songs, the minor pentatonic scale is a great starting point.

minor_pentatonic

To memorize the scale, you can simply play up and down as below, over and over. Slowly. Try to minimize mistakes. Once you start to feel confident, start weaning yourself off the diagram.

pentatonic_uppentatonic_down

How to Boost the Minor Pentatonic Scale?

You can create a unique harmonic source for your solos by adding additional notes to a scale. When you do this, the result often doesn’t have an official name — hence the term hybrid. In the following, you’ll learn an hybrid scale that’s based on the minor pentatonic scale.

hybrid_scale

Theoretically speaking, you combine the notes in different scales. This scale is a combination of the minor pentatonic scale, the blues scale, the dorian mode and the harmonic minor scale. In theory this might sound much more complex than it is in practice. Thus, the only thing that matters is that you can use this scale well for blues and rock. For example, guitar legend Paul Gilbert frequently uses a similar approach for his solos.

Hint for advanced learners: You can play this shape over all dorian tracks. However, it is not 100 percent suitable for all chord progressions in minor. If you want to play it to natural minor (aeolian) tracks you have to play the 6th fret instead of the 7th fret on the B string.

How Does it Sound?

We’ve created a short video to demonstrate how this hybrid scale sounds. If you aren’t familiar with the minor pentatonic scale yet, learn it first. It’s among the first things that you’ll practice with our app Fretello. If you already know the minor pentatonic scale, try to mix in the hybrid scale while playing over backing tracks.

Florian Lettner
CEO & Co-Founder