Creating riffs and melodies using the Major Pentatonic scales

18 Apr

HI There,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far. Feel good about asking questions or suggesting a blog that I could write to help your guitar skills.

In previous blogs about the pentatonic scales we’ve centred mainly on the Minor pentatonic scales. The great thing about the Major pentatonic scales is that they are actually based on the same shapes as the Minor pentatonic. The difference is that shape 2 of the Minor pentatonic becomes shape 1 of the Major pentatonic. The key thing to remember here is that the key centre has changed. So they function in a different way.

The notes of Em (probably the most common minor pentatonic key) pentatonic are:

E, G, A, B and D

The notes of G major pentatonic are:

G, A, B, D and E

So as you can see the notes are the same but if you play these notes in both the orders above you can hear the difference in sound between the Em pentatonic and G major pentatonic.

In order to determine which type (minor or major) to use, this all depends on the chord progression you are playing over. (we’ll explore this in future blogs)

Here are some examples of G major pentatonic riffs – when playing them they have more of a happy, major feel to them.


shape 1 riff

shape 2 riff

shape 3 riff

shape 4 riff

shape 5 pentatonnic

Hope you found this blog useful.

You can find other great info via the Jsmusicschool twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic @annie_jsmusic and @katie_jsmusic

Many thanks



Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Improvisation


Tags: , , ,

3 responses to “Creating riffs and melodies using the Major Pentatonic scales

  1. Macri School Of Music

    April 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Very nice articles and great site you have here!

    • jsmusicschool

      April 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks very much, glad you like the articles


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