How to Play a Minor Pentatonic Scale in Country Guitar

Learn how to play a minor pentatonic scale in country guitar from musician Boo Reiners in this Howcast video.

Minor pentatonic scales for country guitar can be really cool. There’s some old mountain music, old ballads that use very modal sounding scales. Some of them are minor pentatonic. So let’s take a listen to something in E minor. E minor is the relative minor of G major. So we looked at G major’s pentatonic scale, and we just started the scale on a G note and ended two octaves below on a G note. What if we start the same group of notes in a scale-like fashion starting with an E note on the first string? Go down an octave. Continue down another octave to the low E. It would sound something like this.

So it’s got kind of a primitive sound to it. You could use that same E minor pentatonic on top of a E major tune, a tune that’s in E major, and you get a bluesy sound. So it’s a really versatile scale. It’s, like I’ve said before, it’s basically a major scale with a couple of notes missing. You can stick it on a minor sounding song or you can stick it on a bluesier major sounding song and it’ll give you all sorts of ideas for playing melody, playing solos.

Some melodies are song just using the pentatonic scale tones, so be listening for that when you’re trying this out of the guitar. When you’re hearing your favorite music, your favorite artist, listen to what the sound of the scale might be or the tonality of the key. You’ll probably start identifying that pentatonic sound whether it’s major or minor and once you get in these open positions where you’ve got the open strings, then you can start moving into other positions up the neck where maybe you don’t have any open strings to use but you can still use certain patterns. So, check it out and keep on picking.