The Pentatonic Scale | E Minor

Hi all,

This lesson we are looking at what is possibly the most famous scale of all, the pentatonic scale!

A pentatonic scale is one of the most frequently used scales in music all over the world and can come in many different forms but the one we are looking at today is the one you will almost certainly have heard as it is widely used in all modern western styles of music especially blues and rock music.

A pentatonic scale is made up of five different notes (penta, meaning ‘5’) and therefore has two notes less than our other scales we learned before: the E Minor Scale and the A Minor Scale.

These gaps in the scale make the pentatonic very useable over many different chord sequences and because of these gaps, the pentatonic scale is sometimes referred to as ‘The Gapped Scale’.

Playing the E minor pentatonic scale



You can see the scale has only two notes per string.  Be sure to practice using alternate picking and one finger per fret.  I play this shape often in first position, meaning that the index finger is covering the first fret (even though we’re not playing it).  That means that you will use the ring finger for notes on the third fret and the middle finger for notes on the second fret.

Click here to hear the scale Em_Pentatonic_Example


Exercise 1

Choose a drum beat according to your required speed from drum beats and practice the scale ascending and descending, being careful to keep in time with the drums.
Use alternate picking throughout.

Exercise 2

Practice playing the scale along with the backing track [Em_Pentatonic].
You can practise playing it up and down first, then try breaking it up and taking inspiration from the pieces we learned using the Em scale.

Need help reading the diagram? Read the guide here.

Happy playing!


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  1. […] wanted to improvise or compose a tune to the track below, you will need to use the Em scale or the Em pentatonic scale. Unlike the F chord though, you won’t need to use a barre for this version of the chord, […]

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