The A Minor Pentatonic

The Minor Pentatonic is THE scale to learn if you want to start exploring Blues lead guitar!

View the full lesson at The A Minor Pentatonic | JustinGuitar

This is one of the first scales I ever learned. I like it (and other scales) as a warm up exercise.

this scale felt super easy, way easier than the last one, great video justin!

Weird question on this, and not that it matters!, but why is it A minor when the first note (5th Fret, low E string) is A? What am I missing?

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Hi Mark,

The A minor pentatonic scale has the note C natural in it instead of the C# which you find in the A major scale. This is a flat 3rd, making the scale into a minor one.

(Plus pentatonic, because degrees II [B] and VI [F#] are omitted.)


Thanks Jozsef, makes more sense when reading your reply in context of looking at a scale chart. More music theory work needed for me!

Appreciate the reply.

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I would also add the the A minor pentatonic is derived from the C Major scale and built off the 6th interval of the scale which is A. That is why it contains the note C not C# which is not part of the C Major scale. The A minor pentatonic is built from the A natural minor scale which is the relative minor scale of C Major. It becomes A minor pentatonic when the 2nd and 6th intervals are removed from the Natural minor.

C Major C D E F G A B C
A Natural minor A B C D E F G A
A minor pentatonic A C D E G A

So you are actually dropping B and F.

Hope that helps.



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Certainly does, thanks Toby!

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Hi @Notter

To add to the good comment already made.

Think simple …
There is a major scale and it gives rise to music in a major key.
There is a minor scale and it gives rise to music in a minor key.
Both scales are seven note scales.
Both can be reduced to smaller five note scales called pentatonic scale (penta meaning five).
These subsets are called, respectively, the major pentatonic and the minor pentatonic.

Hope that helps.

Cheers :smiley:

| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

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I would add that the question seems to assume that minor is the same thing as flat. It’s not, but as pointed out, refers the quality of the third.

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Thanks John, yes that’s absolutely where I was getting confused!

Hi Mark and the rest,
What @SmokeJS John just said is where things go wrong with quite a lot of people in the beginning … also with me it had to sink in … I wonder if that is a language thing or whether good English speakers also suffer from this?..
Greetings :sun_with_face:

@roger_holland I’d say it’s a music language thing, nothing to do with native languages!!

Yes of course when it comes to the literal sense of the word, but when first translating in my head I had sometimes (and sometimes…cough…still) lost sight of the obvious things… … well, that must be me :relaxed:

Try not to worry folks, or overthink things. At this stage of the journey it’s not really important but as you can see there are loads of people here who can help expain things.

Some teachers like to look at Major and minor scales as separate entities, and others (and I think this is where Justin is coming from) base everything from the Major scale which is the building block of all western music. Alter a note here and there and you get a new scale. Scary? Possibly but everything will come together eventually. There is no rush, enjoy what you learn and get those sausage shaped things at the end of your hands to make wonderful music in preparation for the challenges ahead.


For me, Justins teaching of the Major scale as central has been the cornerstone of my development in the last 2 years. His advice on learning it and learning it well is sage advice. Not just learning the patterns, as I can see now that is secondary and incidental, but ingraining the interval structure and the relationships between them. The flow on effect to all other areas of learning is enormous. Its all connected.

When I came to learning the pentatonic scales, I found I processed them very rapidly, as the Major scale had provided the framework. Everything can derived from there. Minor pentatonic? - same as major scale but with 2 notes removed and 2 other notes flattened. Major pentatonic? - even simpler, with just 2 notes removed from the Major scale.
From here, you can work out any pattern across the fretboard without needing to look up scale diagrams.
Justins Practical Music Theory course is brilliant for understanding this stuff. I think its the pinnacle of his teaching. Would highly recommend it to anyone.



Hi Shane, great comments and I totally agree. Using the Major Scale as the basis is an easier method to get to grips with and shows how everything intertwines.

Yes the Practical Music Theory Course is amazing and the first couple of modules are free to all and whilst not compulsary I would encourage everyone to check it out.

It’s just at this stage in Grade 2 the theory behind the minor Pentatonic is not important, and I feel students should recognise that and learn the fun bits like improvising in the next module without needing to think too much right now.

I found and find the entire course a life-enriching experience … said with my hand on my heart

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Yep, I agree that for some the theory behind it may be cumbersome, time consuming, and suck the fun out of it. I think it depends on the individual though, what their motivations are, how much time is available, what floats their boat etc. I began Justins Practical Music Theory course pretty much from day one. As it’s highly practical in nature, a ‘living’ theory really, I’ve found it invaluable as I’ve moved along over the last 21 months. Others may follow a different path. As long as the fun and enjoyment remains, all is good.
Cheers, Shane

Just tried the string-bending bit but it doesn’t seem to work. Am I doing something wrong?