The Guitarist’s scale part one.

E minor pentatonic. The guitarist’s scale. The place where most guitar players jump on the scale playing bus. The scale itself can fit a variety of musical genres perfectly. So the perennial question that I get, as to whether it is a Blues scale, or rock. The answer is it can be what ever genre you want it to be, it’s just that versatile.

Let’s have a look at it. Firstly lets have a look at the various hand patterns and then lets break it down in how to learn it and apply it to the neck.

The above scale patterns are broken into 5 separate shapes across the neck.

First things first. You need to start learning the first shape and get it on to your hands. I have covered the process of learning scales and how to break them down for memorising in previous less on blogs so feel free to recap in those.

We need to understand what it is we are doing with the scale and why.

The scale itself consists of degrees which are shown on the diagrams. These are Root, b3, 4,5, b7.

As a chord this pretty much gives us a minor 7 chord. So we can safely deduce that this kind of chord works well over a minor and minor 7 chord.  So the best chord to play this over is a minor chord of some kind, at least to start off with.

Other things to bare in mind here is that the scale doesn’t have to be just for solo’s. Riffs can be derived from the scale as well. Here are a couple of examples to demonstrate this.

Bombtrack -RATM

Back in Black – AC/DC

Cochise – Audioslave

Livin on a prayer – Bon Jovi

Play that Funky Music- Wild Cherry

Riff E minor pent


Try playing through some of these riffs and get a few ideas for the scale.


Here endeth the first installment.

More to follow……………….

~ by Geoff Lea Guitar on January 10, 2011.

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