E minor pentatonic scale

Interested in learning the E minor pentatonic scale?

The minor pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that is used in a variety of styles of music, from blues and rock to jazz and country. It’s one of the most versatile scales you can learn on guitar.

In this blog post, you’ll learn the structure of the E minor pentatonic scale, as well as how to practice it on your guitar. You’ll also learn about chords in the key of E minor pentatonic, relative and parallel scales, and more.

Read through the complete article on Introduction To E Minor Pentatonic Scale today!

Introduction To E Minor Pentatonic Scale

The first pentatonic scale you should learn on guitar. It is considered to be among the most widely used scale that can be used in different genres and styles of music, such as blues, rock, metal, etc. It has been used by many popular artists in many iconic songs, listed in later sections.

Structure Of Minor Pentatonic Scales

The detailed structural representation of any five-note minor pentatonic scale is shown below.

R – TS – m3 – T – P4 – T – P5 – TS – m7 – T – R(O),

where R denotes the tonic or the root note, T denotes a whole tone, TS is the combination of a whole tone and a semitone (3 semitones), and R(O) is the root one octave higher.

This leads to the scale formulas {WH, W, W, WH, W}, {TS, T, T, TS, T}, and {3, 2, 2, 3, 2} in terms of steps and tones. An examination of the structure shows that two blocks of TS – T intervals are connected by a T interval in the middle.

Such a scale without any half-step interval between two notes is known as an anhemitonic scale.

Intervals Of E Minor Pentatonic Scale

As you can make out from the structural representation, the intervals of any minor pentatonic scale are R – m3 – P4 – P5 – m7 – R(O). It has two minor intervals (m3, m7) from the root, denoted by lowercase m, and four Perfect intervals (P1, P4, P5, P8), denoted by capital P.

E Minor Pentatonic Scale Notes

Applying the minor pentatonic scale formula with E as the first note gives the following note names – E, G, A, B, D, E. The scale has no sharps or flats. You may already be aware that the standard tuning of a six-string guitar matches the notes of the E minor pentatonic.

Comparison of Notes with E major, E minor, and E Blues Scale

The table below compares five notes of E minor pentatonic with E major and E minor scales. Based on the E major scale notes, the formula for the notes of the pentatonic version is {1, b3, 4, 5, b7, 1}.

ScalesNote 1Note 2Note 3Note 4Note 5Note 6Note 7
Major Scale Degree1234567
Major Scale NotesEF#G#ABC#D#
Minor Scale NotesEF#GABCD
E Minor PentatonicEGABD

Comparing it with the E minor scale, the formula for the notes is (1, 3, 4, 5, 7}, so you can derive the E minor pentatonic by omitting the scale degrees 2 and 6 from the E natural minor scale.

The E blues scale has notes E, G, A, Bb, B, D, E. So, E minor pentatonic can be considered a gapped blues scale with the blues note Bb missing.

Diagram Of This Scale On The Treble And Bass Clef:

The diagrams of the E minor pentatonic scale are shown on the treble and bass clef below.

Treble Clef

E Minor Pentatonic on Treble Clef

Bass Clef

E Minor Pentatonic on Bass Clef

E Minor Pentatonic Scale Guitar Positions

To comfortably play the scales on the guitar, you should have memorized the notes on the fretboard. Our article on the subject will guide you if you have not done so far.

E Minor Pentatonic Scale

You can also go through the five pentatonic scale patterns based on the CAGED system chord shapes in our article on the pentatonic scales. The complete E minor pentatonic scale is shown on the guitar fretboard in the first diagram above, followed by the individual CAGED patterns. The complete diagram shows the root notes in orange and the other notes in pink.

Let us briefly describe these patterns for you:

Pattern 1

E Minor Pentatonic P1Pos

Pattern 2

E Minor Pentatonic P2P

Pattern 3

E Minor Pentatonic P3

Pattern 4

E Minor Pentatonic P4

Pattern 5

E Minor Pentatonic P5

Pattern 1 (G – Shape)

This is the G-shaped pattern with 3 roots lying in a triangle between the nut and the 3rd fret. For this scale, the lowest root is in the open position on the low e string. The same pattern repeats between the 12th and the 15th fret.

Pattern 2 (E – Shape)

The 2nd pattern has 2 roots and lies between frets 2 to 5. The lowest root note is on fret 2 of the D string. The pattern repeats between the 14th and 17th fret.

Pattern 3 (D – Shape)

The 3rd or the D chord shape pattern lies between the 4th and 8th fret and has two roots, with the lowest being on the 7th fret of the A string.

Pattern 2 (C – Shape)

The 4th pattern deriving its name from the open C shape again, has two roots, and the lowest root is the same as the previous pattern on the 7th fret of the A string.

Pattern 2 (A – Shape)

The last pattern is based on the open A shape and has three roots in a triangle shape like the 1st pattern, with the lowest root on the 12th fret of the sixth string.

Finger Positions for fretboard for E minor Pentatonic Scale.

It is possible to play any pentatonic scale with two fingers, as all strings have a maximum of two notes. Also, if you are using a pattern with an open string, you may have to fret only once for some of the strings (for example, the open D string, open A string, and the open G string in pattern 1).

This makes it much easier to play a pentatonic scale in comparison to others. However, we recommend you use your four fingers, one for each fret, to maintain uniformity in style with other scales.

How to Play & Practice Scales on Guitar

To learn the scales, start with any pattern and master it before moving on to others. Then move on to the adjacent pattern and learn it. Next, practice connecting the pattern before moving on to the next pattern.

To play the scale in any pattern, start from the lowest root note in that pattern and play all the notes in sequence till you reach the last note on the high e string before traversing back to the lowest note on the 6th string and finally back to the root note.

Chords In The E Minor Pentatonic Key

Diatonic chords are frequently played over the pentatonic scales. As the diatonic chords are formed from diatonic scales, they carry the two additional notes removed from the natural minor scales.

In the minor keys of the pentatonic scales, there is no one way to form these chords. And certainly not by stacking the intervals of thirds. This is because many times, you don’t have a note in the scale that is at an interval or minor or major 3rd from the previous note. In addition, you have a TS interval in the scale, which is itself a minor 3rd.

So there are two options,

  1. Option 1: With each note as a root, try to form diatonic chords with m3 and M3 intervals, if possible. But you may not be using the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes, as in diatonic scales. If you don’t have m3 or M3 intervals, use M2, P4, and A4 intervals to get suspended or inverted diatonic chords.
  2. Option 2: Carry out harmonization similar to the major or minor scales by using the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes, which will result in inversions.

The results with both options are shown below.

What Are The Notes In These Chords?

Option 1

Root E: Notes E, G, and B yield a minor chord (Em).

Root G: Notes G, B, and D result in a major chord (G).

Root A: You can get two chords – Asus2 with the notes A, B, and E and Asus4 with the notes A, D, and E.

Root B: Notes B, E, and G yield inversion of the Em/B minor chord.

Root G: gives inversion of major chord G/D with notes D, G, and B

Option 2

Using the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes gives,

Root E: Notes E, A, and D – Asus4/E, an inversion of the sus4 chord, or Dsus2/E, an inversion of the sus2 chord.

Root G: Notes G, B, and E – Em/G, an inversion of a minor chord.

Root A: Notes A, D, and G – Dsus4/A, an inversion of the sus4 chord, or Gsus2/A, an inversion of the sus2 chord.

Root B: Notes B, E, and A – Esus4/B, an inversion of the sus4 chord, or Asus2/B, an inversion of the sus2 chord.

Root D: Notes D, G, and B – G/D, an inversion of the major chord.

Relative And Parallel Scales

The relative major of the E minor pentatonic is the G Major pentatonic scale with the same notes {G, A, B, D, E} in a different order. G major is the second mode of E minor pentatonic and can also be found by adding three semitones to E {F, F#, G}.

As you are aware that parallel scales have the same root notes as their key. Hence, E major pentatonic scale with notes {E, F#, G#, B, C#} is its parallel scale.

Songs In The Key Of E Minor Pentatonic

Some of the popular songs in the key of E minor pentatonic scale are:

  1. Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
  2. Paranoid – Black Sabbath
  3. Back In Black – AC DC
  4. Black Knight – Deep Purple
  5. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  6. Pride & Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan


We hope you enjoyed this in-depth exploration of the E minor pentatonic scale for guitar. By now, you should have a good understanding of how to construct and play this versatile 5-note scale in various positions on the fretboard. You also know how to practice it effectively so that you can quickly gain speed, accuracy, and fluency while making great-sounding music.

Use the techniques and ideas presented in this lesson to help take your guitar playing to new heights. And as always, please feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

Leave a Comment