Vertical Soloing: Using Minor Pentatonic on Five Chord Types

In this lesson, I illustrate how to use one minor pentatonic scale over five chord types. In this case, using the B minor pentatonic scale to play over the following chords:

Cmaj7(#11,13), D13, Db+7#9b9 (Db7alt), Gb7susb9, and Bminor11.

The pentatonic scale works so well over these chords because it contains upper extensions/color tones for each chord, as shown here:

Lydian Sound
Phrygian Sound
B minor
B is the maj 7thB is the 13thB (Cb) is the 7thB (Cb) is the 4thE is the 11th
D is the 9thE is the 9thD is the b9E is the 7thD is the 7th
F# is the #11E is the #9*Other notes come from Gb Phrygian scale
A is the 13thA is the #5

The formula should be transposed into all keys. For example, the D minor pentatonic scale can be played over Ebmaj7(#11, 13), F13, E7alt., A7susb9, and D minor chords.

Here’s the exercise I’m using on the video, with fingerings:

Minor Pentatonic on Five Chord Types Exercise

This also illustrates what I call a “vertical” approach to soloing, where we create lines that move swiftly up and across the fingerboard. I chose fingerings that reflect this concept.

When executed well these type of lines sound especially good on the bass as if the line is exploding from low to high up the fingerboard.


Lorin Cohen is a New York City double bassist and bass guitarist. You can learn more about him, his music, and his availability for lessons in NYC and via Skype at

Get daily bass updates.

Get the latest news, videos, lessons, and more in your inbox every morning.

Share your thoughts