How to Play the Minor Pentatonic Scale on Heavy Metal Guitar

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you how to play the minor pentatonic scale on guitar in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


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Okay, what exactly is the minor pentatonic scale? Well, it's a five note scale, and there are two notes per string. So, if I take a seven note scale, A natural minor for example, and I remove the second and the sixth, I get this five note scale. Really all that it is, is a simplified version of a minor scale. So, if I just play up the scale and down it's like this. I'm always keeping my index finger to the left, so there's a straight line right here. No matter where the scale is. Now, I could move this to any place on the neck, and it'll look the same. But for now we're at the fifth fret. So, index finger is always to the left, and I'm using my fourth finger when there are three frets, and I'm using my second finger when there's a two fret interval. If you have big hands you have the option to use the third finger instead of the second finger. However, I prefer the fourth finger just because it gives you options in case you want to throw in some other notes with the third finger. Okay. So, you can do some variations on that. You could skip notes. So, if you do every other note instead of doing the scale in order, you get this. The scale is very good for bending. If I do a bend on the first string in this position I get this. Second string. Third string. Put these together and you have possibilities for a lot of licks such as this.


  • Alex Skolnick

    Alex Skolnick is one of the most diverse guitarists of his generation. Best known for the thrash metal band Testament (which he joined at 16), he has performed with Ozzy Osbourne, ranked high in guitar magazine polls, achieved a BFA in music from New School University and gone on to make a mark in jazz (Alex Skolnick Trio), acoustic world music (Rodrigo Y Gabriela), symphonic rock (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and much more. Alex pens the popular blog Skolnotes on his website,