The pentatonic scale is the most important scale for guitarists – and these 40 licks will take your rock and blues chops to the next level

Jimmy Page, live at Earl's Court in 1975
Jimmy Page works the pentatonic scale like few others in rock history (Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

It’s unlikely that many would disagree with the notion that pentatonic scales are a guitarist’s best friend. Used in every genre of music and countless songs of the past 70 odd years, it really is as versatile as it is valuable.

Its handy two-notes-per-string layout and uncomplicated musical application has made it the perfect choice. Whether it’s Jimmy Page crafting riffs, Gary Moore blazing or Eric Johnson improvising over vast instrumentals, the pentatonic is there as a foundation, the main ingredient, and the secure footing for great players. 

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David Gerrish

David is a guitarist, producer, and educator. He has performed worldwide as a session musician, with artists and bands spanning many musical genres. He draws upon over 20 years of experience in both live performance and studio work, as well as numerous composing credits. As a producer, he's collaborated with artists across genres, including pop, RnB, and neo soul. David holds a master’s in jazz guitar and teaches at BIMM London and the London College of Music. He is also a regular contributor to Guitar Techniques magazine, sharing his love of blues in a monthly column.