The F minor pentatonic scale is easy to learn and highly versatile. Unlike a standard scale, like E major or D minor, the Fm pentatonic scale has only five notes.
Below, you’ll see several fretboard diagrams. To understand what they mean, picture your guitar’s fretboard. With standard tuning, you have each open string set to the notes E-A-D-G-B-E. The diagrams represent those strings in the same order.
The dots represent the notes of the Fm pentatonic scale. The numbers represent which fingers to use, as follows:
• 0 – no finger; play the open string
• 1 – index finger
• 2 – middle finger
• 3 – ring finger
• 4 – pinky finger
Now, let’s get to playing!
How Do You Play an F Minor Pentatonic Scale on Guitar?
The Fm pentatonic scale is excellent for beginners. It’s easy to play in several positions on your guitar’s fretboard.
For position 1, start on the first fret of the thick E string (known as the 6th string). Then, play through each note in the diagram, ending on the 3rd fret of the D string. You can play the same pentatonic shape again at a higher pitch when you reach the next F at the end of the scale.
The figure indicates all notes of the F minor pentatonic scale on the first 12 frets. As you can see, there are several ways to play the scale.
Try position 2. Start on the 3rd fret of the D string and play the notes until you reach the 6th fret of the B string. You’d be right to notice this is the same pattern as position 1, with one exception. When you move from the G string to the B string, the notes move down a fret. This is because B is tuned one note lower than the other strings are, relatively speaking.
Get comfortable with positions 3 – 5, as well. This way, you’ll have full command of the fretboard when it comes time to solo or create your own melodies.
What Notes are in the F Minor Pentatonic Scale?
Brace yourself for some basic music theory! In case you forgot, the five notes of the Fm pentatonic scale are:
Once you know the pattern for the F minor pentatonic scale, you know how to play the scale in every key. This is because every minor pentatonic scale is constructed with the same intervals (the spaces between notes).
Thus, you may see the minor pentatonic scale represented as 3-2-2-3-2. This means that starting from the root, you’ll play the 3rd note on the fretboard from that, the 2nd note from that, and so on.
You may also see W+H – W – W – W+H – W depicting the pentatonic minor scale. “W” means whole step, and “H” implies a half step. A whole step means you “step over” a full note, whereas you simply slide to the next fret with a half step. Basic math indicates that a whole + a half step means you skip two notes.
The formula for any minor pentatonic scale is 1, b3, 4, 5, b7. The lowercase Bs mean that those intervals are flattened. This is what makes the scale minor.
Additionally, the only difference between the pentatonic minor and the natural minor is the 2nd and 6th. As a diatonic scale, the natural minor has these notes. The pentatonic minor does not.
How Do You Solo with F Minor Pentatonic Scale?
Before you do any soloing, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the F minor pentatonic scale. Fortunately, it’s one of the easier scales to master, given it has only five notes.
Start by playing the scale in at least five positions. For example, you can start on the 1st fret of the E string, the 3rd fret of the D string, the 8th fret of the A string, or anywhere else F is.
You can find the root note, F, in many places on the fretboard. As we’ve mentioned, the first F is on the first fret of the thick E string. To find the next F, you can:
· Go down one string, slide down seven frets
· Go down two strings, slide down two frets
· Slide down twelve frets on the same string
You can apply the same strategy to that F, too. Just remember that if you’re crossing over the B string, you’ll need to slide down one more fret.
Time to nail down the Fm pentatonic scale! Play through each position with the help of a metronome (real or digital). Play one note each time the metronome ticks, ascending and descending. Once you can do so without error, increase the tempo. Play through each position again. Repeat.
Once you’re comfortable with each position, it’s time to jam! Look up “F Minor Jam Tracks” on YouTube and get creative! Embellish the chords any way you wish, hit the whammy bar, bend some strings. The choices are endless in the art of soloing.
Finally, consider playing along to some of these popular songs in F minor:
· Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
· Dream On by Aerosmith
· Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
· Far Beyond the Sun by Yngwie Malmsteen
F Minor Scale Theory and Summary
The F minor pentatonic scale is easy-to-play and practical. It consists of five notes: F, A-flat, B-flat, C, and E-flat. It’s a popular scale for musicians of all genres, thanks to its incredible, versatile sound. It’s a must-have for any lead guitarist to have in his or her toolbelt.
Mastering the F minor pentatonic scale takes a bit of patience and persistence. However, it’s a great place to start for those getting acquainted with their fretboards. Once learned, the scale may be moved to any root note and applied to every song written in a minor key.