A Very Cool Pentatonic Guitar Scale: The In-Sen Scale

Most guitar players who have been playing lead guitar for a while have come across these two pentatonic scales…

These are both extremely useful scales for many styles of guitar playing. And they are definitely the pentatonic scales that I recommend learning and mastering first.

But did you realize that there are many other different types of pentatonic guitar scales?

In this guitar lesson we'll take a look at one of my favorites…


The In-Sen Scale

The In-sen scale is a Japanese pentatonic scale that contains the following scale degrees…

1 b2 4 5 b7

[Notice how it has the same scale degrees as the minor pentatonic scale (1 b3 4 5 b7) , except it has a b2 instead of a b3].

This scale is used a lot in jazz. Two jazz musicians worth checking out are John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner. They both are masters of pentatonic playing (including the In-Sen scale).

I also like using the In-Sen scale in metal. It kind of has that dark, brooding sound to it. :-)

So how do you play this scale? Let's take a look! Please check out the scale diagram below. It shows the G In-Sen scale (which uses the notes: G Ab C D and F)…

G In-Sen Scale Fingering:

G In-Sen Scale Fingering

Some students I've shown this scale to find it a bit tricky to finger. Below is the same scale shown in TAB. This time I've added the fingering that I use underneath the TAB. Of course, as always, feel free to use different fingers if you find my fingering awkward…

G In-Sen Scale Fingering In TAB:

G In-Sen Scale Fingering Using TAB

Please take a few minutes to play through the scale now.

So what did you think? Pretty cool sounding huh? It's definitely not as versatile as the major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales. But it's a fun one to play with. :-)

Until next time…practice hard!

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