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Watch the Applying The Box A7 - D7 - E7 online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from The Power of Five

F# Minor Pentatonic Scale

F# minor pentatonic scale is also the A major pentatonic scale and will work beautifully over our entire progression. However you will want to think about targeting chord tones from the scale shape over each of our three dominant 7th chords. Let's analyze the relationship between chord and scale.

Scale Tones F#-A-B-C#E

Chord Tones A-C#-E-G (3 scale tones) = A7

Chord Tones A-C#-G-F#-B (4 scale tones) = A13 (Voicing used in demonstration)

Scale Tones F#-A-B-C#E

Chord Tones D-F#-A-C (2 scale tones) D7

Chord Tones D-F#-C-E-A (3 scale tones) D9

Scale Tones F#-A-B-C#E

Chord Tones E-G#-B-D (2 scale tones) E7

Chord Tones E-G#-D-F#-B (3 scale tones) E9

A Minor Pentatonic Scale

This is the default scale setting for most blues guitarists and will sound very traditional and typical of the blues genre. Let's explore this further by analyzing why it works, what the chord tones are and what effect using chord extensions will have on the underlying blues flavor of our improvisations.

Scale Tones A-C-D-E-G

Chord Tones A-C#-E-G (3 scale tones) A7

Chord Tones A-C#-G-F#-B (2 scale tones) = A13 (Voicing used in demonstration)

Scale Tones A-C-D-E-G

Chord Tones D-F#-A-C (3 scale tones) D7

Chord Tones D-F#-C-E-A (4 scale tones) D9

Scale Tones A-C-D-E-G

Chord Tones E-G#-B-D (2 scale tones) E7

Chord Tones E-G#-D-F#-B (2 scale tones) E9

We can see from this analysis that the Amin pentatonic scale is strongest over the D9 chord. Something you might want to remember for other situations like funk jam sessions.

B Minor Pentatonic

We can use the B minor pentatonic scale to improvise over the D9 chord primarily but it will work beautifully as a melodic device over the other 2 chords if used with care to resolve on a sweet note.

Using the B minor over the A will give us all 3 chord extensions plus the root and 5th degree which is pretty sweet over our A13 chord right?!

Over the D9 chord we'll get all the notes of the major triad plus the 9th and 13th so it's perfect to outline the D9 chord.

Over the E9 we'll get all of the chord tones except the G#.

Scale Tones B-D-E-F#-A equates to 9th-11th-5h-13th-R over the A

Chord Tones A-C#-E-G (2 scale tones) A7

Chord Tones A-C#-G-F#-B (3 scale tones) = A13 (Voicing used in demonstration)

Scale Tones B-D-E-F#-A equates to 13th-R-9th-3rd-5th over the D

Chord Tones D-F#-A-C (3 scale tones) D7

Chord Tones D-F#-C-E-A (4 scale tones) D9

Scale Tones B-D-E-F#-A equates to 5th-b7-R-9th-11th over E

Chord Tones E-G#-B-D (3 scale tones) E7

Chord Tones E-G#-D-F#-B (4 scale tones) E9

E Minor Pentatonic

We can use the E minor pentatonic scale exclusively over the entire A blues progression too with judicious use of extensions and chord tone selections from within the scale. This superimposition will give you a very different sound from using the F# and A minor pentatonics. Let's analyze the chord/scale relationship and see what's going on here.

Scale Tones E-G-A-B-D equates to 5th-b7-R-9th-11th over the A

Chord Tones A-C#-E-G (2 scale tones) A7

Chord Tones A-C#-G-F#-B (3 scale tones) = A13 (Voicing used in demonstration)

Scale Tones E-G-A-B-D equates to 9th-11th-5th-13th-R over the D

Chord Tones D-F#-A-C (2 scale tones) D7

Chord Tones D-F#-C-E-A (3 scale tones) D9

Scale Tones E-G-A-B-D equates to R-b3-11th-5th-b7 over E

Chord Tones E-G#-B-D (2 scale tones) E7

Chord Tones E-G#-D-F#-B (2 scale tones) E9

C# Minor Pentatonic

The C# minor pentatonic scale will give us a cool improv tool over the E7/9 chord because it actually gives us 4 of the chord tones from the E9 chord. This is a great approach if you've been struggling with outlining the blues changes from the A minor pentatonic scale pattern at the 5th fret. I wouldn't recommend using this scale over the other 2 chords because the G# in this scale will give you a major 7th against the A7 chord. Not cool in blues baby! It also gives us a major 7th (C#) over the D9 chord, too risky for my tastes! We do gain an added bonus of the #11 however which is enharmonic to a b5 - if you are fearless go for it!

Let's analyze the chord scale relationship.

Scale Tones C#-E-F#-G#-B equates to 3rd-5th-13th-ma7-9th over the A

Chord Tones A-C#-E-G (2 scale tones) A7

Chord Tones A-C#-G-F#-B (4 scale tones) = A13 (Voicing used in demonstration)

Scale Tones C#-E-F#-G#-B equates to ma7-9th-3rd-#11-13th over the D

Chord Tones D-F#-A-C (2 scale tones) D7

Chord Tones D-F#-C-E-A (3 scale tones) D9

Scale Tones C#-E-F#-G#-B to 13th-R-9th-ma3rd-5th over E

Chord Tones E-G#-B-D (2 scale tones) E7

Chord Tones E-G#-D-F#-B (2 scale tones) E9

D Minor Pentatonic

D minor pentatonic can be used beautifully over the D9 chord but be aware that the minor 3rd will sound weak if you don't use a blues bend on it as soon as you land there! I would try it over the other 2 chords because there are too many tension notes and potential land mines to step on. You could flow through it however and create some nice outside tonality on your way to resolving to a chord tone somewhere else. Let's take a look at the full analysis and see what happens over the other chords too.

Scale Tones D-F-G-A-C equates to 11th-b13-b7-R-b3rd over the A

Chord Tones A-C#-E-G (2 scale tones) A7

Chord Tones A-C#-G-F#-B (4 scale tones) = A13 (Voicing used in demonstration)

Scale Tones D-F-G-A-C to R-b3rd-11th-5th-b7 over the D

Chord Tones D-F#-A-C (2 scale tones) D7

Chord Tones D-F#-C-E-A (3 scale tones) D9

Scale Tones D-F-G-A-C equates to b7-b9-b3-11th-b13 over E

Chord Tones E-G#-B-D (2 scale tones) E7

Chord Tones E-G#-D-F#-B (2 scale tones) E9

The super smart guys out there, will have deduced that we are able to utilize the parallel major and minor pentatonic scale from the root of each of these chords sound like double Dutch to you? All this means is that we are using the major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scale from the root of each of the 3 chords in our blues progression. We also found that the E minor worked on the A and D chords too!