Major Pentatonic Theory

A pentatonic scale is a musical scale with only five notes per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven-note) scale such as the major scale and minor scale. The major pentatonic is a feature of many styles of music but is most commonly used in Country, Rock and Blues. Conveniently, the scale shapes are identical to the minor pentatonic scale shapes but they need to be used differently. For example, you might want to use Major Pentatonic when soloing over major chords and the Minor Pentatonic when soloing over Minor chords.

Scale Formula

C Major C D E F G A B C
C Major Pentatonic C D E   G A   C
Equation 1 2 3   5 6   1

The major pentatonic is constructed by taking the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes from the major scale.

So the major pentatonic has the scale formula:

  T   T   TS   T   TS  
1   2   3   4   5   1
  • T=Tone (whole step or two frets)
  • S=Semitone (half step or one fret)
  • TS= Tone+Semitone (minor 3rd interval)

The Scale Shapes

Pattern 1 – CAGED E Form

Pattern 2 – CAGED D Form

Pattern 3 – CAGED C Form

Pattern 4 – CAGED A Form

Pattern 5 – CAGED G Form

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