Major Pentatonic Scales in Open Position

Lesson #492 • Jun 2, 2023

In this lesson I’ll walk you through first steps with the major pentatonic scale, focusing on the scales built around five major chords you can play in open position: C, G, D, A, and E. It’s quite common to learn pentatonic “patterns” you can play up the guitar neck, using the CAGED system - and while that surely has its place, there is some pentatonic fun we can have in the first few frets of the guitar.

This lesson gives a broad overview of things, showing you the lay of the land and pointing toward additional directions you may like to go with your musical studies. Make sure you see my related lessons module, further below on this page – where I show a handful of other tutorials I’ve made tackling adjacent topics. Enjoy!

Instructional PDF 3 pages

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It includes all of my notes for this lesson, allowing you to follow along at your own pace. You're free to download, print, and share the PDF across your devices.

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Single Chord Backing Tracks

Use these to practice the scales! Each of these tracks repeats a single chord, over and over. Because there’s no chord changes, it’s quite easy to jump in & follow along with.

When playing the corresponding scale to any audio track below, pay attention to how the chord tones (e.g. the 1-3-5 scale degrees per the the scale you’re playing) sound “good” – because those are the notes being played in the chords! Conversely, notice how the 2nd and 6th scale degrees will sound a bit “off” - as if there is tension that is waiting to be resolved.

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C major: (download):

G major: (download):

D major: (download):

A major: (download):

E major: (download):

Here’s all the lessons I mention in my video tutorial. If you’re looking for help with chords in general, check out my Practical Music Theory course – which has a huge amount of helpful content.

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