Improvisation Theory 1: Pentatonic Scale (Major)

The pentatonic scale is made up of five notes. As posted before, a key is made up of 7 notes, and these notes form the basic building blocks for the chords and melodies in the song. For example, the C major scale comprises of the notes:


If, however, we omit the 4th and 7th notes, we obtain the pentatonic scale:


The good thing about this scale is that it is one of the best places to start learning how to improvise and form guitar solos. This is because it uses only five notes, and these notes fit into most chords easily.

The tabs for the C major pentatonic scale are as follows:


Here's an example of myself improvising a simple solo over History Maker. Note that this scale tends to sound rather 'Chinese'.

You may need to transpose the tabs to fit into another key. To do so, use the following sequence of notes:

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B

Start with the (big and bold) C note. Suppose you want to play the D major pentatonic scale. The D note is two steps away from the C note, thus you take the C pentatonic scale, and play it two frets higher. If you need to play the B major pentatonic scale, you either use the C pentatonic pattern a fret lower, or 11 frets higher. More on transposing later.


andrew said...

This is awesome kenny
really thankful that you've taken the effort to post all these lessons and tabs, letting u know its really blessing me and my playing
God bless ya

Anonymous said...

HEey i'm a big fan of u'r site. I always come here eveeryday. Plz send me the tabs for this i'm playing this song this week. my e mail is

Anonymous said...

Wow Bro Kenny..that's really cool and great i've learnt how to
play with the pentatonic scales.. .btw, what is the effect you're using

Anonymous said...


Many thanks for this it has helped me understand scales, which I seem to find very hard. Its such a blessing to find somebody that wants to share their skills, thanks again.


Anonymous said...

erm.. hey there kenny... i still have a bit of confusion trying to fit these scales into a song... i played the correct key.. but dont sound nice..

GabonMx said...

How can i know which pentatonic scale use for a especific song?, for example Saviour King, i need to which key chord has?

steven said...

how come you are playing the C major pentatonic scale on the "G" note on the sixth string? doesn't it mean it is the G pentatonic scale instead of the C?

Anonymous said...

pentatonic are good for asian ears :)

Anonymous said...

i still don't get it...

mike said...

hahahh that is what i tell my students.. its the AZN scale.... ahahahhah, and in music theory class i always get it hahah.

ian said...

hi! how do u know the key(scale) of the song? im just a beginner,,,!

ian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ian said...

and what if you are playing the chord D,A,F#m,E(mighty to save)what key and the scale will you use?

Woi said...

hei can i get this tab? can you guys email to ? plz and ty

창원 said...

I am very happy to find your blog and it is very useful for me. Please send me this taps to my e-mail Thank you.