In my experience, learning how to implement the major pentatonic scale provides most players with a real breakthrough moment. The major pentatonic scale has a totally different sound when compared with the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

As such, implementing the scale will help you to broaden your musical vocabulary whilst creating a different sound and feel in your playing. It will give you access to a much broader range of sounds, and will help you to create more interesting and varied guitar solos. It will also allow to create a warmer and more upbeat blues sound, in the style of guitarists like B.B. King, Duane Allman and Eric Clapton, amongst others. 

This course follows on from ‘An Introduction To The Major Pentatonic Scale‘. So if you have not followed that course – or if you are new to the major pentatonic scale – head over there first before continuing here. As I explain in detail in that course, the major pentatonic is more complicated to understand and utilise than the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales. 

In that first part of this course I cover the fundamentals of the major pentatonic scale. This will help you to understand what it is, how it compares to the minor pentatonic scale, and some of the key rules that you have to keep in mind when utilising the major pentatonic. If you just dive into this course without understanding the fundamentals, you will really struggle to utilise the major pentatonic effectively. So make sure you feel comfortable with that material before continuing here.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s look at what we will be covering this course. In this course we will cover:

  • How to mix the major and minor pentatonic scales in your playing
  • Licks and ideas you can create in 5 easy box shapes across your fretboard
  • How to avoid mistakes when mixing the two scales

If you are totally new to this material, then by the end of the course you will be able to confidently use the major pentatonic scale in your playing. Conversely, if you have already been playing the major pentatonic scale but with limited success, by the end of this course you will have a clear and simple framework for using the major pentatonic in your solos.

Getting started

This framework is built around one simple idea: 

The major pentatonic scale should not replace the minor pentatonic scale in your playing. Instead it should supplement the minor pentatonic licks and ideas that you currently use when soloing

I often encounter guitarists that struggle with the major pentatonic scale. And this is typically because they try to make a full switch from the minor to the major pentatonic. They leave behind all of their familiar licks and touch points on the fretboard and start from scratch. And this is problematic for two reasons:

Firstly, when you do this, you lose all of your reference material. If you are at the point where you are looking to get to grips with the major pentatonic scale, you should feel comfortable with the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales. And as such, you should hopefully have a variety of ‘go-to’ licks and ideas built from these scales. 

Not only are these licks effective and useful, but they also help you to feel comfortable. You know that you can return to them if you start to feel lost or unsure of where you are when improvising. As a result, moving away from these licks is the quickest way of feeling uncomfortable and lost on the fretboard.

Secondly, and as I covered in detail in ‘An Introduction To The Major Pentatonic Scale‘, the major pentatonic scale is rarely used in isolation. Instead it is much more frequently used in addition to the minor pentatonic or minor blues scale. 

This is partly because of the limitations of the major pentatonic scale. You can’t really use the scale over minor chord progressions, and it is challenging to use over the IV chord in a typical 12 bar blues progression. However, it is also because the minor pentatonic and blues scales really define the sound of the blues. They are a core part of the blues sound, and as such they should remain at the centre of your playing approach.

Next steps

All of this is to say, that the most effective way of learning the major pentatonic scale, is to build on the licks and ideas that you currently use. As you become more advanced and comfortable with the scale, you can mix the scales in very complex and subtle ways.

To get started though, throughout this course will be adopting a pared back approach. We will return to the 5 box shapes that we have covered in the following courses:

Here though we will build on these box shapes by adding in notes from the major pentatonic scale. And we will do this by taking very small steps. In fact, most of what we will be playing throughout this course will be based on the minor pentatonic scale. However we will be adding enough new material from the major pentatonic to give your playing a totally different feel.

This will help you to broaden your musical vocabulary and add depth to your solos, whilst keeping within the familiar framework of the minor pentatonic. As you then start to feel more confident with the major pentatonic scale, you can begin to target it more frequently in your solos, and move further away from the minor pentatonic scale.

The first step in getting to that point, is targeting the major pentatonic scale consciously and getting comfortable using it alongside the scales with which you are already familiar. And so with that in mind, let’s get into it! Here is everything you need to start creating solos with the major pentatonic scale: