The Minor Pentatonic Scale – Left Handed Diagrams

Neal Beedie November 13, 2012 29

After checking out our left handed chord chart one LeftyFretz reader recently asked if I could produce some left handed scale charts for some of the more popular scales.  Let’s first take a look at the ridiculously useful minor pentatonic scale – lefty style!

The minor pentatonic is usually the first scale that new guitarists will learn – it’s very easy to play and is useable in almost any musical scenario.  For these reasons it is a great scale to use when practicing your improvisational skills.

Before we dive in let me add that if you’re finding it difficult figuring out a scale or chord from a (right handed) diagram, the easiest thing to do is to look up the scale/chord in tablature format.  Tab makes it very easy to see what you should be playing, and I’ve included tab of the minor pentatonic scale to allow you to see how it translates over from diagrams.

Minor Pentatonic Scale Shapes

The easiest way to learn the scale over the entire guitar neck is to split it up into smaller, easily digestible shapes or patterns.  I’ve shown the five different shapes below.  Pay attention to the blue notes as these are the root notes and will indicate which key you are playing in.

Minor Pentatonic Position One - Left Handed Lefty Guitar

Minor Pentatonic Position Two - Left Handed Lefty Guitar

Minor Pentatonic Position Three - Left Handed Lefty Guitar

Minor Pentatonic Position Four - Left Handed Lefty Guitar

Minor Pentatonic Position Five - Left Handed Lefty Guitar

One Huge Scale

All of the different patterns are interconnected and note overlaps will occur between adjacent shapes – for example patterns one and two share six of the same note positions.  Take a look at the diagram below to see exactly how each pattern connects and overlaps with the next.  If you have swatted up on your note name positions then you’ll be able to work out that this diagram shows the A Minor Pentatonic Scale (all of the blue notes are A’s).  Also notice how the patterns keep repeating themselves up the neck – 1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2 etc..

A Minor Pentatonic Pattern Overlaps Left Handed

Tips For Faster Learning

Start off learning the first pattern and then build upon that by adding position five behind it.  Once you have those two down then add the second pattern on top of position one and keep building up until you can cover the entire neck.  To make the learning process more interesting play the scale shapes over some of your favourite songs, or find a backing track from any online resource.  One of my favourite places for free backing tracks is GuitarBackingTrack.com.

To really embed these scale shapes in your subconscious try and play them in as many different ways as possible.  For example make sure that you can play them ascending as well as descending and even try and play the entire scale on one string only!

Practice while watching your favourite television show and you’ll find that muscle memory soon takes over and you’ll be able to play these patterns without any conscious thought.

Leave a comment below if you’re still confused :)

29 Comments »

  1. Devon January 14, 2011 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Wow, that was fast, thanks!

    • Neal January 14, 2011 at 9:53 am - Reply

      No problem, I'll take any excuse to spend an hour in Photoshop. Hope you get some use out of it.

  2. @nuvolarch January 24, 2011 at 7:36 am - Reply

    This site is really good, I love it! Thax for you efforts!

    • Neal January 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the nice comment buddy :)

  3. Ken June 29, 2011 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Wow…just what I was looking for…Was just starting out with playing a guitar and recenly lost two fingers on my left hand to the first joint…now thier too short to properly fret many cords…
    I haven’t been disouraged just bought a left handed guitar and started to relearn everything but left handed…especially finger posistion was getting real confuseing…kept trying it right handed way…but but with the left hand ….Dosen’t work to well…Your site is awesome…..Another thing I found out is that left hand guitars were real scarce to find in many of the stores around town so had to buy online…wonder why it’s so hard to find the left handed ones…?

    • Neal June 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      It’s just a simple case of lack of demand Ken. Lefty guitars don’t provide enough of a profit margin for many companies, so unless you have a really great local store (like I do!) you’ll probably need to source your guitars online, or have the store order you one. With mid to high range guitars they will often be snapped up very quickly as word tends to spread fast when someone has something nice in.

      Part of the enjoyment of being a lefty player is the hunt for your new guitar. Often times you need to do a little extra work or look in places further afield, all part of the fun :)

  4. chris tyrie August 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    minor pentatonic? i always called the blues scale. its the scale iknow real well, buti sure wish i new some others that were rock based besides lydian. i dig yer site!!

    • Neal August 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks Chris. Yes, this is the Minor Pentatonic – the Blues scale is very slightly different.

  5. Johan Salomons December 13, 2011 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Hi,

    Love your article!
    Keep up the good work!

    Johan

  6. Johan Salomons December 13, 2011 at 11:51 am - Reply

    However i don’t understand this:

    “Pay attention to the blue notes as these are the root notes and will indicate which key you are playing in.”
    First of all, i dont know what root notes are, but since i am a newbie that explains it! :)

    • Neal December 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm - Reply

      The root note determines the key you are playing in. So for example if you look at Pattern 1 above, the blue notes are all F’s – so that pattern in that position is F Minor Pentatonic.

      Also by keeping coming back to the root note your lick will sound more in key.

  7. Bill January 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Thanks for doing this site. Up until now I found it so confusing converting right handed scales to left.
    I write and play guitar left handed and do everything else with the right hand so my brain sees things both ways which normally blows a fuse somewhere.
    I never seem to know if I’m looking at the high or low strings first.

    Thanks aain
    Bill

    • Neal January 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      Glad it helped clear things up Bill.

  8. PJ January 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Great site! Kinda feels like I found a group that finally understands what I’ve been going through all these years!

    PJ

  9. Bill March 13, 2012 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Hi
    I read that the pentatonic minor scale comes out of the major scale.
    Does that apply to all 5 patterns or just the 1st pattern?
    I am presuming that it does apply to them all but I just can’t see it. If so, would you add the extra notes to these patterns in say a green dot so I can understand it visually.
    Thanks very much
    Bill

  10. Allan August 2, 2012 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Those scales were great for me as I am left handed,how ever the only thing I was not sure of was,what did you mean by playing a scale over the other then another ?.allan.

  11. Stephen December 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much! I’ve had to read scales upside down for years!

  12. Bo M Andersen January 5, 2013 at 11:53 am - Reply

    This is great. Thanks a lot buddy!

  13. sheena January 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Please can you explain for a real real beginner who looks at the chart and can’t read it! I only started a couple of weeks ago – I strum a few notes with tabs with the numbered finger o or x tabs and numbered frets. Am I missing something simple or have I skipped where the key to it is – didn’t think I had. Thank-you.

  14. Peer January 16, 2014 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great post.

    Could it be possible to get major / minor Pentatonic scales in big size for print out.
    many kind regards Peer.

  15. Peer January 16, 2014 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    For left-handed guitarists pls

  16. Joe March 29, 2014 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Hi there,
    These are awesome and super helpful for us lefties! Any chance for additional left handed diagrams for other scales/systems, such as the major scales, caged, phrygian, etc?

    • Neal March 30, 2014 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      I’d like to do that Joe, it’s just difficult to find the time. It’s definitely on the list though.

  17. Peer May 13, 2014 at 12:23 am - Reply

    All I want to say Thumps Up for Neal and his great work.
    Can only wish you the Best in life man.
    I adore your beautifully gear, most of mine, did I get as gift before I retired as Roadie.

    Here in Denmark there’s more than 5000 Danish krones of Gibson Blood Goldtop Custom, so it’s really NOW if you like to own this nice bitch. From 2012 I mean with major great upgrades.

    www.4sound.dk or google 4Sound the old Åge Jensen.
    We still see Lars Ulric ofcause witch I was back liner for almost 8 fucking years. I think James is in love with Preben from 4Sound or at least crazy with his name:P

    All the Best and kind regards.
    /P

  18. Fred Adams May 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Can’t begin to tell how hard it is to find GOOD lefty guitar lessons. This has helped me so much. Thanks!

    • Neal Beedie May 15, 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks Fred, glad you found them to be of use. If you have any other questions be sure to come and say hello on our forum :)
      http://leftyfretz.com/forum/

  19. Paul May 21, 2014 at 2:36 am - Reply

    This is fantastic ! Thanks so much for all you do for us lefties. A truly outstanding site I visit daily ! This was exactly what I needed…awesome….just awesome. ~

    • Neal Beedie May 21, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Paul, hopefully I’ll find time to get some other scales done soon.

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