By: John Bilderbeck
Soloing over guitar chords is easy when you know how to use the
minor pentatonic scale. Add spice and power to your solo's with
these simple but highly effective techniques.
The humble minor pentatonic scale is what most guitar players
start with when learning to solo. Trouble is, they don't learn
to use the scale to it's best potential.
Here, I'll show you an easy way to use the pentatonic scale to
solo over the three most common guitar chord types: Major, minor
and dominant 7th chords.
1. Major Chords
A Major chord always has a relative minor chord. The easy way to
find the 'relative' minor of any major chord on a guitar is to
take the note three half-steps (3 frets) below the root note of
the major chord.
For example: a C major chord - the root note is C. On a guitar,
the note 3 frets below a C note is A. Therefore, A minor is the
relative minor of C major.
So to solo over a C major chord, use the A minor pentatonic
scale and you can't go wrong.
Another example: F major chord - three frets below the root of
F, you will find D. So you use a D minor pentatonic scale over
an F major chord.
Another example: G major chord - three frets below the G root
note you'll find E. So... you use the E minor pentatonic to solo
over a G chord.
Now, you may have noticed that I listed C, F and G major chords
there. Coincidentally, They are the 1, 4 and 5 chords of the
'KEY' of C Major. This applies to all instruments, not just
More about this later...
2. Minor Chords
These are easy... just use the minor pentatonic of what ever the
minor chord is. E.g. Use D minor pentatonic for a D minor chord,
an E minor pentatonic for an E minor chord, an A minor
pentatonic for an A minor Chord.
Now, did you notice I used D, E and A minor chords as the
example? Did you also notice that these chords are the 2, 3 and
6 chords of the 'KEY' of C Major?
More about that later, too...
3. Dominant 7th Chords
You have a couple of choices here. But basically, you would use
the relative minor pentatonic, or the minor pentatonic a tone
below the root of the dom7 chord.
For example, over G7, you could use either E minor pent
(relative minor), or D min pentatonic.
The reason you could use the D minor pentatonic over a G7 chord
is because the Dmi chord and G7 chord often go together in chord
progressions. Forcing a Dmi sound over a G7 chord gives a G7sus
4. Thinking From a 'KEY" Perspective
OK, what we have looked at is the KEY of C Major. And basically
you can use just the A minor pentatonic alone for ALL the chords
in C, or you can also use the D and E minor pentatonics to add
some color and more conformity to the chords being used at the
Remember, these principles apply to whatever chord you are
playing at any time, but can also be applied on a KEY
basis,which is a more encompassing picture.
The Key of C Major has these chords:
C, Dm, Em, F, G7, Am, Bmin7b5.
Ami pent can be used over them all, or just the C and Am chords.
D min pentatonic can be used over the F and Dm chords.
E minor can be used over the Em and G7 chords.
We didn't mention the 7 chord (Bmi7b5) because it's not used
very much. But a good choice is the Dm pentatonic. In fact,
though, you can use either of the three pentatonics from the C
Major scale - Am, Dm or Em. Try them, see which you like best.
I hope you enjoyed this article. You can find more information
about guitar chords at my site: http://www.Free-Guitar-Chords.com
The idea of using pentatonics for different chords is a powerful
one, don't overlook the cool sounds you can create with such a
Also, in a future article, I'll be discussing 'Pentatonic
Substitution' where I'll show you how to use substitute and
altered pentatonics for even more sound choices.
John Bilderbeck is a professional guitar coach. If you would
like a free copy of "Pentatonic Guitar Magic" eBook, visit
About the author:
John Bilderbeck's web site http://www.free-guitar-chords, is
where he shares tips and secrets gathered from teaching guitar
since the 70's. Most beginner and intermediate players do it all
wrong. John shows how to do it right to slash up to 66% off your