Major/minor scales - Relative minor

C Major = A minor

D Major = B minor

E Major = C# minor

F Major = D minor

G Major = E minor

A Major = F# minor

B Major = G# minor

These relationships are called "relative minor." (aka "cousin chords")
The relative minor in any key is the 6th note in the Major scale of the key you are working in.
CMajor:

C  D  E  F   G   A   B   C
1   2  3   4   5    6   7   8

"A"
is the 6th note in the CMajor scale. So it is the "relative minor."
The  
Aminor  scale has all the same notes as Cmajor. Only the relationship to the root is changed.

A   B    C    D    E    F       G     A
1   2    b3    4    5    b6     b7    8

This rules applies to CHORD progressions as well.
The primary chords in the key of C are:
C    F   G
1     4    5

There are also other chords- called "secondary chords:"
Am   Dm   Em
6        2      3

In the key of
Aminor the primary chords are:
Am   Dm    Em
1       4        5
and the secondary chords are:
C        F      G
b3       b6     b7  - (also known as "minor 3rd,  minor 6th. minor 7th")
Notice CMajor and Aminor have the SAME chords- only the relationship to the Root is changed.
Major Scales: (Ionian Mode)
Formula: W W H W W W H

C    D     E     F     G    A     B    C
1     2      3      4     5     6     7    8


D    E     F#    G     A      B      C#    D
1      2      3     4     5       6       7      8


E    F#    G#    A     B     C#     D#    E
1     2      3       4     5      6       7        8


F    G     A     A#     C     D     E      F
1     2     3      4        5      6      7      8


G    A      B     C     D     E    F#   G
1     2      3      4      5      6     7     8


A    B    C #    D     E     F#    G#    A
1     2     3       4      5      6       7      8

B      C#     D#      E        F#     G#     A#    B
1       2         3        4         5       6        7  
    8
Major Scale Formula:
W  W   H    W   W   W    H


Major Scale - Key of A
A   B   C #    D   E   F#   G#   A
1    2    3       4    5    6    7      8


Minor Pentatonic Key of A - Blues, Rock
A    C    D    E   G
1    
b3   4     5    b7

The flatted 3rd and flatted 7th are called "blue" notes. These are the
notes that give the scale it's unique sound.

There are also some passing tones you can use for extra flavor
3  b5    7    


Major Pentatonic -- Melodic Rock (ballads), Country, Southern Rock
Use the Minor Pentatonic scale belonging to the "6" of the Major scale
for the key you want to play in:

example: If the song is in the key of "A" - use the Minor Pentatonic
scale for F#.  
or: You can also find the "6" easily by counting back three frets from
the Root/Key. Remember to use the "A" note as your tonic center.

A   B   C#  E   F#
1    2    3    5    6
Pentatonic Conversion chart
A Major pentatonic = F#minor pentatonic

B Major pentatonic = G#minor pentatonic

C Major pentatonic = Aminor pentatonic

D Major pentatonic = Bminor pentatonic

E Major pentatonic = C#minor pentatonic

F Major pentatonic = Dminor pentatonic

G Major pentatonic = Eminor pentatonic

Just remember to phrase your licks so the new root
becomes your tonic center.
Here are some Classic examples of these scales in rock, southern rock, and
rock ballads.

Knockin' on Heaven's Door- Key of G Major. Use the Eminor pentatonic box pattern and hang
around G as your tonic center.

Gimme Three Steps: Key of D Major. Use the Bminor pent. box pattern. Double stops in the main riff
are done bending the 2note on the G string a full step up to a 3rd while holding the 5note on the B
string. Use the same picking and bending pattern when it goes to A, but instead play it in the AMajor
pent. position at the 2nd fret.
(Without fuzz setting this same style of lick is called a "pedal steel lick." it's very country!)

Skynyrd uses the Major pentatonic scale A LOT- Tuesday's Gone, Sweet Home Alabama, etc...

Freebird: Main verse/chorus of song in GMajor. The end solo jam chord progression is G5/Bb5/C5.
No Major or minor is indicated. So which scale to use?
hint:  Bb is the
minor 3rd in the key of G, making this a minor progression. So you should solo in
Gminor pentatonic pattern box (at the 15th fret and at the 3rd fret).

Ramblin' Man: Allman Brothers country-rocker in the key of GMajor. Uses the Eminor pentatonic
pattern. To really groove, try G Mixolydian.

Money: Key of Bminor. This Pink Floyd song has an odd time signature- 7/8 - which changes to 4/4
for the solo breaks- and a killer
ostinato bass line that is doubled with the guitar. But when you boil
down the structure of the song, it's very similar to a
1-4-5  12-bar. Use the Bminor pentatonic pattern
(stretch the box out on the B and E strings).

Comfortably Numb: This Pink Floyd song is in Bminor, the same Key as Money, but the solo section
goes into DMajor. You'll still use the Bminor pentatonic scale, since it is the relative minor of Dmajor.
Torn between whether to use Major or
minor scales? Try both. The wrong one
will sound "wrong." The right one will
jump up and say "howdy."
New scale for you to try!
Harmonic minor - great
metal scale. very exotic
sounding.
Back to Lessons Page
Converting between Major and minor Pentatonic scales-
Determining which pattern to use for a given key