Guitar riffs are made of this – Pentatonic Scale

As music and guitar fans, we appreciate a good riff or melody. Whether we’re listening to some classic rock, punk, pop, blues or even jazz, I can guarantee that you’ve heard a piece of music that is performed using what is known as the Pentatonic Scale.

What is the Pentatonic scale?? It’s a series of 5 notes that just sound good together.. Well that’s a brief summary of it anyway. The Pentatonic Scale is a very versatile scale that can be used in a great variety of ways when playing or writing guitar.

In our guitar lessons in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, it is one of the first scales that I introduce to a beginner guitar student and one that can be further analysed with more intermediate and advanced students. It is a very achievable scale for the student that can be utilised in classic guitar riffs or used in an improvisational framework.

5 notes is very manageable to work with and these can be played right up and down the guitar neck.. This is a familiar looking illustration of the pentatonic scale patterns on a guitar fretboard:



Minor pentatonic scales show up everywhere in rock music. Classic songs from bands Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, and Foo Fighters feature minor pentatonic scales again and again.

Jazz vocalist and conductor, Bobby McFerrin, puts on a great demonstration of the pentatonic scale in the following video. It appears that we have an inbuilt connection to the scale and the notes that we can play with it. Check it out below..


As a student of guitar, we will approach the pentatonic scale with easy to understand lessons and exercises. I can help you to play the scale in an intuitive and expressive way that will not only have you hearing the music but feeling the music. You’ll also be cranking out some of your favourite riffs in no time as well..