How To Use Major & Minor Pentatonic Scales When Soloing (Example 1)


For these examples we will only use the key of "A".

Example 1
Scale Used
Starting Fret
Starting Finger
Other Possible Chords To Use
A Minor
1st Minor Pentatonic
C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am


Example 1 is using the 1st A minor pentatonic scale and the backing chord is A minor. All the notes used in the riff are only from the scale below. This has been played very simply so that you can hear how easy it is to get a solo from just the 1st pattern.

Scale Used: A Minor Pentatonic - 1st Pattern (5th Fret)


Tabbed Riff


Audio Example Explanations

  1. Riff & Backing: Use this to get an idea on how the riff fits over a chord & rhythm.
  2. Backing Only: Use this to practise the riff once you start to get it flowing
  3. Solo Only: Listen to the riff without the clutter of the backing instruments, or practise the chord progression along with it.
  4. Alternate Chords: Have a listen to the same solo played over a different chord structure, hear how dramatically the solo changes. The chords used in this example were C, G, Am, F, G then finishing on Am. This progression is in the key of Am.



As you can hear, almost as importantly as what notes you're playing in the solo is the chords used over the solo. It is important that you always understand what key you are soloing in. An easy way to find out what key you are in is to use the 1st or last chord of the song, they are generally the same. If the first and last chords are C then the song is in C major. If the first and last chords are D# then you guessed it, the key of the song is in D# major. What if the first and last chords are Am (A minor)? Then the key is naturally A minor. This means you would use an A minor or an A minor pentatonic scale to solo with in that particular song. If a song is in the key of C major then you'll use a C major or C major pentatonic scale to solo with. By using relative minors you could also add the A minor or an A minor pentatonic scale to a song in the key of C major.