G Major Pentatonic (Guitar Lesson)

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Brad Henecke

G Major Pentatonic

Brad Henecke teaches the G major pentatonic scale. He demonstrates all 5 patterns and explains how they can be transposed to any key.

Taught by Brad Henecke in Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke seriesLength: 22:50Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:31) Lesson Introduction - G Major Pentatonic Throughout this series, you have learned a variety of scales. Thus far, Brad has covered the modes of the major scale in the key of G. You have also learned all five patterns of the minor pentatonic scales in the key of A. In addition, Brad demonstrated how the minor pentatonic scale can be converted into the minor blues scale by adding the b5 scale degree.

In the current lesson, Brad explains the music theory and fretboard patterns pertaining to one of the most common scales used in rock, jazz, blues, and country music. The major pentatonic scale is applied in countless solos and melodies in these genres. All scale concepts in this lesson are explained within the key of G major. However, these theory concepts and fretboard patterns can easily be transferred to the remaining eleven major keys.

Music Theory

The major pentatonic scale is derived from the major scale of the same letter name. For example, G major pentatonic is derived from the G major scale. Review the spelling of the G major scale listed below. Remember that the key of G major features one sharp in the key signature (F#).

G major scale: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

The prefix "penta" means five. The suffix "tonic" means tones or notes. As a result, the major pentatonic is a scale that is major in quality that consists of five notes. The root, second, third, fifth, and sixth notes are taken from the major scale to form the major pentatonic.

G major pentatonic scale: G, A, B, D, E, G

When learning any new scale, it is important to understand the interval relationships within it. This information becomes essential when comparing scales and determining whether a scale will work with a particular chord or progression. The interval distance between each scale degree and the root note are listed below.

G: root
A: major second above
B: major third
D: perfect fifth
E: major sixth
G: root

Musical Intervals

An interval is the distance between any two notes in the musical alphabet. Brad has already explained how whole and half steps are applied to the fretboard. Every interval can be described as a sum of these measurements. Whole and half step measurements are applied to the musical intervals listed below.

Note: There are some additional musical intervals in the musical language that are not listed below. The intervals that occur most frequently are listed here.

Minor Second-one half step
Major Second-one whole step
Minor Third-whole step+a half step
Major Third-2 whole steps
Perfect Fourth-2 whole steps+a half step
Augmented Fourth-3 whole steps
Diminished Fifth-3 whole steps
Perfect Fifth-3 whole steps+a half step
Minor Sixth-4 whole steps
Major Sixth-4whole steps+a half step
Minor Seventh-5 whole steps
Major Seventh-5 whole steps+a half step
Octave-6 whole steps

Note: A list of these intervals and how they are written in standard notation can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.
Chapter 2: (03:02) First Position Similar to the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales, there are five fretboard patterns for the major pentatonic scale. Learning these five patterns will enable you to play the scale across the entire length of the fretboard.

The first pattern that Brad demonstrates contains several open string notes. However, this same pattern can be transposed one octave higher. When this occurs, the open string notes are shifted to the 12th fret.

Note: Tablature / notation as well as fretboard diagrams to all patterns discussed in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Notice that the shape of this pattern is exactly the same as the first pattern that you learned for the minor pentatonic scale. For example, this pattern can be used to play a G major pentatonic scale as well as an E minor pentatonic scale. These two scales contain the same notes. However, the notes within the pattern function differently according to which scale is played. Compare the sound of an E minor pentatonic scale to the sound of a G major pentatonic scale. The G major pentatonic scale sounds much brighter due to the major third interval above the root. The E minor pentatonic scale is minor in quality due to the minor third interval above the root. Also, compare the G major pentatonic and G minor pentatonic scales. How would you describe the differences in sound between these scales?

Pay close attention to the location of the root note in this pattern. When practicing scales, always begin and end on the root note. Ascend to the highest G note in the pattern and ascend back down. The open low E note is part of this pattern, and can be used in melodies or solos. However, many guitarists choose not to play it when practicing through the scale pattern.


For all notes at the third fret, use the third finger. Use the second finger to fret all notes at the second fret.

Creating Licks

Once you have learned and memorized this pattern, develop your own major pentatonic licks. Brad demonstrates some examples at 02:35 in the lesson video.
Chapter 3: (02:19) Changing the Key Brad demonstrates how the pattern from the previous scene can be transposed to a new key. He transposes the first G major pentatonic pattern to the key of A major. When transposing the scale, the overall shape remains the same. However, the fingering must be adjusted since this pattern contains no open strings in the key of A major. Watch and listen carefully as Brad plays through the A major pentatonic scale. The F# note at the second fret of the 6th string is part of this pattern. However, it is frequently left out when practicing through the scale since it is below the lowest root note in the pattern.

Note: Tablature to all five major pentatonic patterns in the key of A can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

When learning any scale, do not just memorize the visual pattern. Memorize the note names within the pattern in all 12 keys. Knowing the note names will help when creating solo lines over a specific chord.

Practice transposing this scale to the remaining ten keys. Brad gives you some help with the key of B major. Simply slide the pattern to the appropriate root note.

In the next several scenes, Brad explains the remaining four patterns of the major pentatonic scale. These patterns can be transposed by using the same principles outlined in this scene.

Note: If you are confused by the transposition process, feel free to email Brad or any of the other instructors here on JamPlay.
Chapter 4: (03:54) Second Position Fingering

The second pattern for the major pentatonic scale is played in second position. When practicing the pattern adhere strictly to the left-hand fingerings indicated in the tablature provided under the "Supplemental Content" tab. When playing solos or melodies, these fingerings may be adjusted to fit the context of a melodic idea.

Notice how some of the notes within this pattern overlap with the first pattern. This feature enables you to transition from one pattern to another by using slides or other types of position shifts. Once again, the root notes in the pattern are located at the 3rd fret of both E strings. Another root note is found at the 5th fret of the fourth string.

Practicing the Pattern

Begin with the lowest root note. Then, ascend to the highest note available in the pattern. This note is A, located at the 5th fret of the first string. Finally, ascend back down to the lowest root note. Always begin and end on the root note when practicing any scale.


The same transposition principles that Brad demonstrated in the previous scene can be applied to this pattern. Simply shift the entire pattern up the fretboard when transposing. Brad demonstrates this process by transposing the scale to the key of A major. He begins the pattern on the note A at the 5th fret of the sixth string when playing in this key.

Playing Licks

Once you have learned and memorized this pattern, develop your own licks. Also, try to come up with some licks that shift from the first pattern to the second pattern and vice versa.
Chapter 5: (03:07) Third Position Notice how the lowest root note of this pattern is played on the fourth string. Due to this feature, the pattern can be practiced in a few different ways.

Method 1

Begin on the root note located at the 5th fret of the fourth string. Then, ascend to the highest note in the pattern. This note is B, located at the 7th fret of the first string. Next, descend to the lowest note available in the pattern. Finally, ascend back up to the starting root note. Practicing the pattern in this fashion includes all of the notes in the pattern. It also creates a strong sense of conclusion since the final note played is the root of the scale.

Method 2

Begin with the G note played on the sixth string. Then, slide into this pattern with the first finger. Then, ascend to the highest note in the pattern. Descend back down to the G note located on the sixth string. Once again, this must be accomplished by sliding with the first finger. Watch Brad carefully for an example of this method.

Ultimately, you want to find ways of connecting all of the pentatonic patterns together so the entire range of the guitar can be utilized when improvising a solo or melody line.
Chapter 6: (02:52) Fourth Position In the key of G major, the fourth pattern of the major pentatonic scale is played in seventh position. Follow the methods outlined in the previous scene when practicing this pattern.
Chapter 7: (03:03) Fifth Position The fifth pattern of the G major pentatonic is played in ninth position. The root note is located on the fifth string rather than the sixth string. Consequently, the pattern must be practiced using the methods outlined in Scene 5.

As you continue up the neck past this pattern, all of the previous patterns repeat again one octave higher. For example, the first pattern that Brad demonstrated can be played an octave higher in 12th position.


Practice and memorize these scale patterns over the next couple of weeks. Play each pattern in all 12 keys. Say each note name aloud as you play through the scale.

Next, explore all possible ways of shifting from one pattern to the next. Repeat this process in all 12 keys. This information becomes crucial when improvising a solo.

Preview of Next Lesson

In lesson 51, Brad explains how to use the major pentatonic scale when improvising over a I IV V progression.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

rantik986rantik986 replied

hey brad...followed pretty much all ur lessons and gotta say u r awesome!! respect.

scottbrownscottbrown replied

Hey Brad...quick question where does the first position for the e-minor pentatonic scale start 12th fret or open 1 or 6 string?

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied

the box pattern that I call the first is the same shape/box pattern startjng on the open 6th string as on the 12th fret .just in a higher/differnt octive .all 5 box patterns repeat starting at the 12th fret and go up the neck intell you run out of frets.

tomorrowtomorrow replied

This is 5 star teaching thanks Brad

will315will315 replied

WoW... Great series, Thanks Brad

nessanessa replied

Woohooo! Nice, Brad. Great series. :)

mattbrownmattbrown replied

50 lessons! Alright! Go Brad!

Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this Phase 2 series Brad Henecke will school you in the art of rock guitar. You will not only learn how to play some of your favorite songs in this series, but you will also learn how to create your own.

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Third PatternLesson 14

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The Fourth PatternLesson 16

The Fourth Pattern

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The Fifth PatternLesson 18

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Using OctavesLesson 41

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G Major PentatonicLesson 50

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Brad Henecke teaches the G major pentatonic scale. He demonstrates all 5 patterns and explains how they can be transposed to any key.

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Brad Henecke

About Brad Henecke View Full Biography Brad Henecke was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5th of 1963. He has been a fan of music for as long as he & his family can remember. You could always find him running around the farm wailing on his cardboard guitar, pretending to be a member of the rock band KISS. Additional inspiration came during his first concert when he got the chance to see Boston & Sammy Hagar in the early 1970's.

This opened up a whole new world of rock and roll music for him; his parents noticed his growing interest in music and enrolled him into guitar lessons when he was 13.

From there he jumped into two years of lessons at a local music store in Cedar Rapids. After discovering Eddie Van Halen, Brad knew that the guitar would always be a part of his life. He took his love throughout the city as he played as a pit musician & jammed at parties for friends.

This made him thirsty for more. He enrolled classes at Kirkwood Community College & also took lessons from the one & only Craig-Erickson (www.craig-erickson.com).

His love for music landed him a gig opening for Molly Hatchet in Cedar Rapids with a band called "Slap & Tickle". He has also played in the Greeley Stampede show for quite a few years with "True North".

Brad is currently playing in Greeley, Colorado with a rock band titled "Ragged Doll". They play a wide variety of music with an emphasis on classic rock from the 60's to present, with Brad playing electric guitar in the five piece lineup.

He currently jams on his all-time favorite guitar: a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. Beyond guitar, he plays also plays drums & bass guitar. He has also been known to thrash a banjo from time to time. He is still actively playing & passing his 31 years of playing experience on to others (you!).

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