The minor pentatonic scale is a much used scale by musicians in many genres, from blues to rock, and if you are just starting to learn soloing and how to improvise, learning the 5 positions of the minor pentatonic scale will be invaluable to your efforts.
I always recommend that my students learn the minor pentatonic scale forms as a first step in learning improvisation. You probably know the first form already, which can, by itself, be used to make up nice sounding riffs and improvised solos. But learning the other 4, altogether 5 minor pentatonic scale positions will allow you to move along the fretboard to wherever you want, whenever you want, and produce some truly outstanding solos.
Don't take my word for it, listen to BB King albums, Clapton songs, and a bunch of other artists. They all use the various shapes of the minor pentatonic, so should you. Here are the positions of the minor pentatonic:
The above diagram shows the 5 positions of the minor pentatonic in the key of E. After shape 5, the patterns would start over from shape 1.
There are a couple of key points to take away here:
- It's very important to note that the above diagram could be moved anywhere on the fretboard, resulting in a minor pentatonic scale of a different key.
- For example, if the root note of the 1st shape would start at fret 5, so in essence, the entire diagram would be moved over by 5 frets, you would be in the key of E, since the root note is E.
- Notice also how all of the root notes (gray dots) are on note E.
- Shape 2 starts off as the end of shape 1, shape 3 starts off as the end of shape 2, and so on. You can now see how the entire scale is connected.
How would you go about learning the positions of the minor pentatonic?
- Learn each shape separately at first here: 5 minor pentatonic scale positions
- Make sure you concentrate on remembering the root notes in all of the shapes.
- Move the shapes to different places over the neck of the guitar, just to get a feel for the sound of the scale in different keys.
- Learn to connect and move in between the shapes.
- Start playing the scale along with jam tracks, this is very important!