How to Play the G Major Pentatonic Scale on Guitar
The G Major Pentatonic Scale is essential for many genres like rock blues, country, and pop music.
By Ben Nemeroff
Lesson: Playing the G Major Pentatonic Scale on Guitar
The G major pentatonic scale can be heard in some of the most popular songs of all time, lending a bright, brash tone -- along with the versatility to change the mood and send a powerful message. From the swagger of The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” to the introspection of “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, the G major pentatonic scale is essential to playing and creating memorable music.
In the G major pentatonic scale, you will play the seven notes repeated in the G major scale, minus the fourth and seventh note. Similar to the C major, the G major pentatonic scale has no sharps or flats. Guitarists of all levels can add a powerful tool to their arsenal and expand their playing horizons by working with this five-note scale.
In this article, we’ll tell you a bit more about the G major pentatonic scale, the notes it contains, as well as one way to play it using both charts and tablature. Let’s get started!
G Major Pentatonic Scale Notes
Like other pentatonic scales, the G major pentatonic scale is composed of five notes. This abridged scale has a bright tone thanks to the fact that the G major pentatonic scale contains no sharps or flats. The notes that make up the G major pentatonic scale are:
As is the case with the structure of all pentatonic scales, these five notes can also be found among the seven notes of its corresponding G major scale, omitting the 4th and 7th notes, C and F#, respectively. The notes G (root), B (3rd) and D (4th) make up the G major triad chord.
G Major Pentatonic Scale Positions
There are a variety of ways to play the G major pentatonic scale. In this lesson, we’ll learn how to play it in the open position. Your starting position will be on the 3rd fret of the low E string.
In the below lesson, you will learn to play using a chart. These diagrams represent the neck of your guitar’s fretboard. Each corresponding dot shows you which note you’ll play on a specific fret and string. If you see a dot with a note above the string, play the string in an open position. The yellow dots indicate the root of the scale – in this case, the root note is G.
G Major Pentatonic Scale Chart: Open position
To begin, place your second (middle) finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string. As you move through the notes in the scale, notice that your index finger will play the 2nd fret of the next three strings and that your middle finger will play the 3rd fret of the last two strings, B and high E.)
G Major Pentatonic Scale Tabs
Learning the G major pentatonic scale can be done in more than one way. Every guitarist is different – some prefer reading charts like the one above, others may find it easier to learn how to play scales using tablature. Let’s take a look at playing that same G major pentatonic scale using a tab.
G Major Pentatonic Scale Tabs
When reading a tab, begin on the low E string (the one closest to you, if you’re looking down at your guitar). To play the G major pentatonic scale, fret the first note in the scale (G), which can be found on the 3rd fret of this string. (Think of this G note as your “home base”!) Next, place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the next three strings. You’ll play the notes on each consecutive string as you move across the fretboard, like this:
Unlike some pentatonic scales, the G major pentatonic scale doesn’t require the use of your third (ring) finger or fourth (pinky) finger. Not only is the G major chord and scale among the most used series of notes in the guitar world, its pentatonic scale is easy to learn.
While you may be playing a succession of notes across your fretboard, when you listen, you’ll notice that there are only five unique notes in the G major pentatonic scale. That is because, as we continue ascending or descending the scale, we enter new octaves. Notice how the pentatonic scale starts with a G note on the low E string and by the sixth note (open G string), you’ve played G again, but in the next highest octave.
G Major Pentatonic Scale Exercises on Guitar
The best way to master the G pentatonic scale is repetition. Practice the scale playing it in ascending and descending order. Start with the root note of G, then play A, B, D, E and then another G in a higher octave. Now work your way back down the scale, starting with that higher G, climbing back down to E, D, B, A and low G.
To further improve your skills, practice alternate picking when playing the scale. In doing so, you will not only help improve your picking techniques but you’ll also help to better develop your musical ear, too.
Please keep in mind that this is not the only way to play the G major pentatonic scale. There are other positions for this scale that take the action further down the fretboard. Experimenting with some of these other versions can help you to build greater finger dexterity and also match notes at different points along the fretboard. To learn more of these scales, download the Fender Tune app and try your hand at different versions of the G major pentatonic scale -- and many more scales!
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