Pentatonic Scales: Major or Minor?

Playing notes from the major pentatonic over a major key and playing notes
from the minor pentatonic over a minor key will always be pleasing to the ear.

In a many cases you can use the minor pentatonic scale in a major key, too.

Many times though, a song in a major key can have soloing from both the
pentatonic major and minor scales.

If you are playing a song in a minor key (Examples: Em, Am, Bm) then you'll
want to stick with the minor pentatonic that matches the name of the key.

For example, if the song is in Em, you'll want to play from the E pentatonic minor.

Whereas a song in a major key, you can use either the pentatonic major or the pentatonic minor, or both to solo with. Whatever scale you choose to solo with will be your own desicion. So how do you decide which scale to use? Well first, you've got to know what each scale sounds like over a song in a major key.

Examples

Here is a clip of a song in the key of E. I'm using the E pentatonic major to improvise a solo over it:

Here is a clip of the same song, but instead of the E pentatonic major scale I'm using the E pentatonic minor:

Can you tell the difference? Each has it's own sound. Oftentimes the pentatonic minor in a major key has a "bluesy" sound to it.

Try It!

Here's a couple of jam tracks for you to download that you can use both the pentatonic major and pentatonic minor to improvise a solo over.

Summertime

This song is in the key of G and you can use both the G pentatonic major scale and the G pentatonic minor scale to improvise over it. It's 0.99 MB

In The Mood

Use both the D pentatonic major scale and the D pentatonic minor scale to experiment with this one in the key of D. 1.48 MB