Minor Pentatonic: A Major Step in Groove

Today’s lesson is a fun one! It completely reinvigorated my passion for learning to play the bass, because I realized that becoming “more than I was” wasn’t far away, but it completely relied upon me putting in the time. Trust me, it’s WORTH THE TIME!!! If you’re like me, then you have a passion for music, not just bass, but you use the bass in order to express that passion. The minor pentatonic scale is a rich device to have in your arsenal in order to build your understanding of music. Go ahead and download the flash cards labelled “Minor Pent…” 1-5 in the Minor Pentatonic Dropbox folder. Just click the highlighted link. There are also cards which display the full scale, the individual positions


If we’re going to understand the minor pentatonic scale then we must first attempt to understand why it is called minor. This may be review for some, but it is called minor because of the flat 3rd. So, the third in the major scale is a semitone, or half step, higher than that of the minor 3rd. G major’s triad is G-B-D, but G minor flattens the 3rd (B) to a Bflat so that the minor triad is now G-Bb-D. That’s a very simplistic explanation and for now I believe it will suffice. So, the minor pentatonic scale is based on that major scale with the flattened 3rd, which is now called minor.

The big difference between the minor pentatonic scale and the minor scale is that the pentatonic scale contains only five notes, whereas the minor scale is a heptatonic scale, meaning it contains seven notes. Penta, meaning 5, lets you know how many tones (tonics) are involved. If you want a simple way to get around a song in a minor key the minor pentatonic is your vehicle. The minor pentatonic scale’s five notes, no matter the key (G, D, B, C#… etc) will stay consistent through all five positions. In order to keep it simple just remember that the first position begins on the first note, the second position on the second note, and so on through the fifth position.

Now, if you’ve downloaded the practice audio file you’ll notice it has two distinct patterns. What I did was separated the scale practice audio into two parts. The track will scale from the first to the fifth position and then the first again, because the position beginning at the 15th fret in the G minor pentatonic is the first position just below the fifth. You’ll understand as you go through it. Immediately after the 3rd time of playing through the scale I’ve included the audio of a bass playing the first position forwards and backwards, and the second, and third, and so on. So, here’s an outline.

  1. 1st position – G (third fret)
  2. 2nd position – B flat
  3. 3rd position – C
  4. 4th position – D
  5. 5th position – F
  6. 1st position – G (15th fret)     repeat 1-6 3x
  7. 1st position – forwards and backwards
  8. 2nd position –  forwards and backwards
  9. 3rd position –  forwards and backwards
  10. 4th position –  forwards and backwards
  11. 5th position –  forwards and backwards


NOTHING can replace practice. Listen to the groove track and plot out a pentatonic groove or just solo along, going in and out of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth positions.

If you haven’t already click on the links on the right side of the page and give Scaling Your Bass a like on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. I’ll be releasing tracks for practice through those two avenues throughout the week. Thanks for bringing your passion to meet mine and I Iook forward to Scaling Your Bass next week as we scale the modes.SYB


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