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How to Combine Harmonic Minor and Pentatonic on the Guitar

Raising the 7th in the minor scale creates whole new scale patterns for lead guitarists to learn on the guitar. Understanding this scale can help you better understand both melody and harmony. Knowing the harmonic minor scale and how it’s used for composition and improvisation can help you combine the harmonic minor with other types of scales, such as the pentatonic and major scale modes.

But believe it or not, it’s not recommended that you learn all the patterns of the harmonic minor scales on the fretboard at once. Instead, it’s suggested that you work on adding harmonic minor to a pentatonic scale pattern. This is how most guitar players use the harmonic minor scale, anyway.

After you can incorporate the harmonic minor scale into a pentatonic pattern, you can explore the full harmonic minor patterns that cover the guitar neck.

To use the harmonic minor scale in a pentatonic pattern, follow this process:

  1. Add a raised 7th to the pentatonic.

  2. Outline the V7 chord with an arpeggio pattern.

  3. Fill in the notes that complete the harmonic minor scale within the pentatonic pattern.

All along the way, work on switching between natural and harmonic minor as you play over chord progressions.

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