A Minor Pentatonic Scale: An Essential Guide

Want to learn the a minor pentatonic scale? We’re going to show you everything you need to know about the A minor pentatonic scale.

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 3 awesome pentatonic licks which will make you sound amazing.
  • 7 must-know A minor pentatonic patterns.
  • The secret to why minor pentatonic scales are SO useful.
  • 2 quick and easy tips for finding root notes.

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What’s A Pentatonic Scale?

A pentatonic scale is a 5 note scale which can be used to create solos and melodies. Not only does it sound great, pentatonic scales are also easy to learn.

In this lesson we’re going to be focusing on one of the most popular guitar scales, the A minor pentatonic scale. Let’s learn how to play this scale!

A minor pentatonic scale

A Minor Pentatonic Scale – Pattern 1

This pattern is THE most important minor pentatonic scale that you can learn.

Here’s the tab:

A minor pentatonic scale

When playing the A minor pentatonic scale, you’ll only ever need to use two fingers per string. Make sure that use:

  • Fingers 1 and 4 on the E string.
  • Fingers 1 and 3 on the A string.
  • Fingers 1 and 3 on the D string.
  • Fingers 1 and 3 on the G string.
  • Fingers 1 and 4 on the B string.
  • Fingers and 4 on the E string.

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Using The A Minor Pentatonic Scale

Minor pentatonic scales are used to create solos or melodies.

However you can’t just use the A minor pentatonic scale anywhere. It’s vital that you know where and when you can use it.

To know when you can use this scale, you must understand how musical keys work.

Musical keys are useful to know as they allow us to know what notes we can and can’t play when improvising.

The Key Of A Minor

The A minor pentatonic scale comes from the key of A minor.

The key of A minor has exactly the same chords as the key of C.

The chords in the key of A minor:

  • A minor.
  • B diminished.
  • C major.
  • D minor.
  • E minor.
  • F major.
  • G major.

The chords in the key of C are:

  • C major.
  • D minor.
  • E minor.
  • F major.
  • G major.
  • A minor.
  • B diminished.

They are exactly the same.

Want to know more about they key of C? Go here: Understanding the chords in the key of C

What does this mean?

This means that if you want to improvise with your A minor pentatonic scale, you can do it over ANY of these chords. All of your notes in the A minor pentatonic scale will sound great.

A minor pentatonic scale

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Learning Licks

Another great way to integrate the A minor pentatonic scale into your playing is to learn some minor pentatonic licks.

What’s A Lick?

A lick is a small musical phrase which you can use to help you improvise. Licks help you improvise quickly and easily.

A Minor Pentatonic Scale – Lick 1

Here’s a bluesy lick to get you started. This would work perfectly over an A blues progression.

Blues Lick

This lick can be tricky as it uses string bending. To learn how to string bend, watch this video:

A Minor Pentatonic Scale – Lick 2

This is another classic pentatonic lick which has been used by hundreds of rock gods over the years.

Buckle up, this one is FAST!

Rock Lick

To play this lick correctly, you must know how to play hammer on’s and pull off’s. Watch this video to learn how:

A Minor Pentatonic Scale – Lick 3

This one is a finger twister! Practice this one slowly and build up your speed gradually.

Country Lick

Practicing These Licks To Backing Tracks

Now you’ve learnt these 3 licks, the best place to practice them is in a musical situation

The first backing track is in the key of A Minor and uses the chords A minor and C major.

You should be able to hear how great the A minor pentatonic licks sound over this backing track.

Remember this works because the key of A minor has exactly the same chords as the key of C.

A Blues Backing Track

The second backing track is a 12 bar blues in the key of A.

The minor pentatonic scale works fantastically over a A blues. Practice using each of the guitar licks over this backing track.

For more lessons on lead guitar, go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

A MInor Pentatonic Scale

Learning guitar licks plays a big part in creating solos. Here’s a list of the 50 greatest guitar solos of all time: 50 Greatest Guitar Solos | Guitar World

Targeting Root Notes

One vital aspect of learning lead guitar is targeting the root notes. Root notes are so important if you want to learn how to improvise.

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