UD#26 Never Jam Alone – Episode 3 (Major Pentatonic)

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UD #25 The Major Pentatonic Scale: Solo Anyone?
from Ukulele in the Dark
w/ Guido Heistek


Last newsletter we looked at how to play a Major Pentatonic Scale on the ukulele. This scale is very useful for soloing over Folk, Pop or Jazz progressions that are in a major key. The Major Pentatonic Scale is easy to learn and very useful. It’s a big help to have some notes under your fingers that you know will sound fine. This way you are free to explore your creativity by playing with rhythm and phrasing without having to worry about hitting “wrong” notes. Many people noticed that the Major Pentatonic Scale sounds like the opening riff of My Girl. Nice catch! These are very cool discoveries to make. So take the time to really get to know the shape and feel of your scales so you can play them easily without having to think too much. You may even hear some familiar tunes emerge!

In this newsletter we will learn to use the Major Pentatonic Scale to solo in three keys: C, D and A.

Key of C:

I have put together a little two chord progression in the key of C that we are going to solo along with. It’s a simple little groove that uses the C and Dm7 chords. It’s the outro from OYE COMO VA by SANTANA. See if you can strum along with it:


OKAY! Let’s solo along with the recording. Here’s my suggestion. Practice playing the C Major Pentatonic Scale like this a few times:





Here’s me playing along with the recording. I play the scale twice through like I have it written above. Then I make up my own melody using the notes in the scale. FUN! And then I go back to playing the scale at the end.

Have a listen:

Please play along with me a few times, when I get to the part where I start improvising you can make up a melody of your own or just keep playing the scale.  When you are ready, please try soloing along with the Jam Track all by yourself. Have fun! Here is the Jam Track in C:



Okay let’s try it in a new key. We are going to move to the key of D (uses D and Em7 chords). See if you can figure out how to play a D Major Pentatonic. Check the tab below to see if you got it right:

D Major Pentatonic:





(If I’ve lost you SORRY! Please review UD#25 and then come on back!)


Here I am jamming along with the Jam Track in the key of D. I use the same approach as in the key of C but I start the scale on the second fret instead of the open C string (see the tab above):


When you’ve got a feel for it in the new key please use the D Major Pentatonic Scale to solo along with this Jam Track in D major:



Okay let’s do it in one more key. A major (A and Bm7 chords). How do you play an A major Pentatonic? We have to take our C Major Pentatonic and move it all the way up to the 9th fret. Like this:

A Major Pentatonic:





Again, if that doesn’t make sense please revisit UD #25. Here’s the Jam Track in A have fun jamming along!


Here are some more songs that you can solo along with. Make sure you use the scale in the appropriate key.

Brown eyed girl by Van Morrison In the key of G (start scale on 7th fret):



Satin Doll by Duke Ellington key of C (start on open C):

Carlos Santana Samba Pa Ti. Key of G:

Jack Johnson upside down Key of E (start scale on 4th fret):

OK that’s all for this week.

Next week:

Minor Pentatonic Jam Tracks! We’ll learn how to use the Minor Pentatonic Scale to jam along with a song in a minor key. We’ll do HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN in C minor and A minor.

See you then,



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P.S. I am regularly adding new lessons to Ukulele in the Dark. Please subscribe to my mailing list below to receive every lesson right when it comes out. Be sure not to miss a thing!


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