So i'm pretty new to all this theory stuff but i'm doing my best.. My question though..

Basically the G minor pentatonic scale's 1st position would start on the 3rd fret of the E string right.. and then eventually you'll be playing the open strings further down that scale and stuff...

My question is... Lets say i want to play the F minor pentatonic scale, how would i go about doing so? I can't play position 1 the same as i would with a G minor pentatonic scale because of obvious fret restrictions.. Because of this do i instead start the F minor pentatonic on the 13th fret of the E string?

I hope what i'm trying to say makes sense.. I just got back from my guitar lesson and it's really doing my head in (my teacher did say it would) but i really really want to make sense of it all..

So if anyone can make sense of what i'm trying to say and provide an answer it would be much appreciated.

The notes in each scale are the notes in each scale .. just use the notes you can use, the scales go all across the fretboard, so if/when you've learnt every box of the pentatonic (its not hard) then you can just go up/down from certain positions as required.
Dont let it put you off, its really simple... just wait till you start learning all the diatonics xD (aeolian/dorian etc)

If an example helps, then say you're using the F sharp minor ... you could do a lick starting on the open E, or the open A, as they are in the scale, however you couldn't use the open D string, and so you'd have to move up to the regular pentatonic box, starting at the second fret.

F minor, and you'd just basically have to call the first fret your base, as you can't go lower at all.
Just learn the 5 Minor Pentatonic shapes and you're sorted.

The easiest way I learnt them way back many years ago was just get a simple 12 bar blues loops track in A. Start jamming with the first position, when youre confident you know it, move to the 2nd positions and so on and so on. Then link them together, learn a few licks by either watching other guitarists or listening to your favorite bands. Once you have that sorted you can then move onto Blues notes, Aeolian Mode, Major Pentatonic and Mixolydian mode etc. Eventually you will be a master

Goodluck man!
Also Fminor Pentatonic starts on 1st fret on E string.

-------------------------------------------------------------------1-----4--
--------------------------------------------------1-------4-----------------
--------------------------------------1-----3-------------------------------
-------------------------1-----3--------------------------------------------
-------------1-----3--------------------------------------------------------
--1-----4-------------------------------------------------------------------

Edit: The same position is then repeated an octave higher on the 13th fret.
Last edited by karstaag666 at Mar 15, 2012,
First of all, what fret restrictions? Second of all, why don't you just play a couple of frets down?

----------------------------------------------R----4----6---------
---------------------------------------4-----6---------------------
---------------------R------3-----5------------------------------
---------------------3----6---------------------------------------
------------3-----6-----------------------------------------------
--4----6-------------------------------------------------------

the R are on top of your root notes,

Quote by vayne92
So i'm pretty new to all this theory stuff but i'm doing my best.. My question though..

Basically the G minor pentatonic scale's 1st position would start on the 3rd fret of the E string right.. and then eventually you'll be playing the open strings further down that scale and stuff...

No, I'm pretty sure the only position of G minor pent. that uses open strings is the 5th position.
Last edited by jimicrackcorn at Mar 15, 2012,
Put the patterns to one side for a second as they're not really a lot of help to understanding any of this...patterns themselves aren't "theory" as such, what they are is an aid to applying it.

The answer to your question is simple, if you want to play any scale you just have to find the notes on the fretboard....that's it. Frets and open strings don't mean anything when you're talking about scales, notes are just notes. However, to be able to do that you need to know the notes that your scale contains, and you also need to know the notes on your fretboard otherwise you won't be able to be able to find them.

For example, E minor pentatonic is the notes E G A B D, anywhere those notes appear on your fretboard you can use that scale - that's how you understand theory. The patterns? Learning those will help you apply it on your guitar.
Actually called Mark!

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First of all, what fret restrictions? Second of all, why don't you just play a couple of frets down?

----------------------------------------------R----4----6---------
---------------------------------------4-----6---------------------
---------------------R------3-----5------------------------------
---------------------3----6---------------------------------------
------------3-----6-----------------------------------------------
--4----6-------------------------------------------------------

the R are on top of your root notes,

No, I'm pretty sure the only position of G minor pent. that uses open strings is the 5th position.

If the guy has only just started learning minor pentatonic scale shapes then hes probably only been taught the 1st position. Teaching the 2nd is likely to confuse. Keep to the very basics and improve upon it once its fully understood.
Quote by karstaag666
If the guy has only just started learning minor pentatonic scale shapes then hes probably only been taught the 1st position. Teaching the 2nd is likely to confuse. Keep to the very basics and improve upon it once its fully understood.

Unconfuse imminent in 3...2....1...

Dear OP, the shape I showed you in my previous post is exactly the same as first position.

IE: From the root note you go a step and a half, then the next 3 strings are each one whole step.

The reason I pointed out the root notes in the shape was in hopes that you'd get that yourself. As you can see, it's the exact same shape except now it starts on the D string instead of the E. It's simple really. Learn your octaves and you'll be set. That one shape just repeats over and over and over.

I don't see any reason to learn all the notes like some would suggest(at least not right now), because it's more down to the relative intervals than the notes, but to each their own. Learning notes really isn't hard though. It's just 12 that repeat over and over. Just like everything else on guitar.
Last edited by jimicrackcorn at Mar 15, 2012,
Quote by karstaag666
Just learn the 5 Minor Pentatonic shapes and you're sorted.

The easiest way I learnt them way back many years ago was just get a simple 12 bar blues loops track in A. Start jamming with the first position, when youre confident you know it, move to the 2nd positions and so on and so on. Then link them together, learn a few licks by either watching other guitarists or listening to your favorite bands. Once you have that sorted you can then move onto Blues notes, Aeolian Mode, Major Pentatonic and Mixolydian mode etc. Eventually you will be a master

Goodluck man!

Great link, quick question regarding it... On the 5 positions c an I choose which position I play each box in depending on which key I want it in? Or does a certain box correspond with a certain key / position playing?
Quote by Dalymiddleboro
Great link, quick question regarding it... On the 5 positions c an I choose which position I play each box in depending on which key I want it in? Or does a certain box correspond with a certain key / position playing?

5 positions per key. Each position is made up of the same 5 notes just different position on the fretboard. You link them together so you can move up and down the board.

For example, if you're playing the Aminor Pentatonic. The first position starts on the 5th fret, the 2nd starts on the 8th, 3rd starts on the 10th, 4th starts on the 12th, and finally the 5th starts on the 15th.

Way I used to remember it was the 2nd note on a position is the 1st note of the next position. This however doesnt mean the root note so dnt get confused with tht.
Last edited by karstaag666 at Mar 15, 2012,
Quote by karstaag666
5 positions per key. Each position is made up of the same 5 notes just different position on the fretboard. You link them together so you can move up and down the board.

For example, if you're playing the Aminor Pentatonic. The first position starts on the 5th fret, the 2nd starts on the 8th, 3rd starts on the 10th, 4th starts on the 12th, and finally the 5th starts on the 15th.

Way I used to remember it was the 2nd note on a position is the 1st note of the next position. This however doesnt mean the root note so dnt get confused with tht.

It's starting to come together very clearly! So you start box 1 always at the lowest Key /note position (in pitch) on the fretboard? Then from there box two continues on the second note of box 1's position and so on and so fourth?
Quote by Dalymiddleboro
It's starting to come together very clearly! So you start box 1 always at the lowest Key /note position (in pitch) on the fretboard? Then from there box two continues on the second note of box 1's position and so on and so fourth?

Position one is for when the root note(The key that you're playing in) is on the low E string.

Say you're playing in G, first position would be the third fret, and also the 15th(Both of these are G on low E string). Inbetween fret 3 and 15 are the other shapes. You can start at whichever one you want and do your thing from there.
Quote by jimicrackcorn
Position one is for when the root note(The key that you're playing in) is on the low E string.

Say you're playing in G, first position would be the third fret, and also the 15th(Both of these are G on low E string). Inbetween fret 3 and 15 are the other shapes. You can start at whichever one you want and do your thing from there.

what he said. basicaly after position 5 you get back to position 1 again but an octave higher. So on a neverending fretboard, the positions just loop going either an octave higher or an octave lower each time.

If I refer back to my previous example of Aminor Pentatonic. The 1st position starts on the 5th fret E string, the 5th position can be found 2 frets lower on the 3rd fret E string aswell as on the 15th fret E string. Theyre just 2 different octaves.

And on finding the 1st position. Imagine youre listening to a blues track and its in G, you find a G note on your low E string and that is the first note of position 1 of the minor pentatonic.
Last edited by karstaag666 at Mar 15, 2012,
Quote by karstaag666
what he said. basicaly after position 5 you get back to position 1 again but an octave higher. So on a neverending fretboard, the positions just loop going either an octave higher or an octave lower each time.

If I refer back to my previous example of Aminor Pentatonic. The 1st position starts on the 5th fret E string, the 5th position can be found 2 frets lower on the 3rd fret E string aswell as on the 15th fret E string. Theyre just 2 different octaves.

I got it, Also you do them modularly starting from which position you choose to begin at, so if I started at box 2, then I'd go to box 3. Or if I started with box 1 I'd go to box two etc...

How about for the major pentatonic and Major scale? I know for the major scale C, it's the only key which has no sharps or flats. To keep going from there would I look into relative keys?
Quote by Dalymiddleboro
I got it, Also you do them modularly starting from which position you choose to begin at, so if I started at box 2, then I'd go to box 3. Or if I started with box 1 I'd go to box two etc...

How about for the major pentatonic and Major scale? I know for the major scale C, it's the only key which has no sharps or flats. To keep going from there would I look into relative keys?

You dont have to follow the positions in order religiously. You can jump about on them if you want. Its easier to play certain licks on some positions than it is others. Think of them more as someoen splitting up all the notes so theyre in nice healthy bite sizes and easier to learn

Major Pentatonic is exactly the same as minor pentatonic in shapes. its just the root note is different on the shapes so the shape for position 1 of the Minor pentatonic is the same shape as position 5 of the major pentatonic.

the first position of the Major Pentatonic can be found by playing the same shape as the 2nd position of the minor pentatonic on the same root.
So in the key of A again, you can play the 1st position of the major pentatonic (same shape as the 2nd of the minor) on the 5th fret. This might get confusing so its best to get a personal lesson on this from a tutor or friend who can show you it all on guitar and the notable sound differences.
My advice though is to master the Minor Pentatonic first before you jump into the major's since you need to understand the basics first in order to be able to 'hear' why the notes work aswell as understand them theoretically.

google search for simple 12 bar blues jam tracks and try and solo ontop of them using the minor pentatonic and its different positions.
As Mark already said, forget about the positions. Learn the notes of the fretboard and learn scales as a series of notes and intervals. The positions are there simply for convenience so you can hear what the scale sounds like. In the long run, they are usually a hindrance. A lot of people tend to get caught up in one positions or another and have a lot of trouble moving around the fretboard, especially when improvising.
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What is a good way to practice these different scale positions? Should I pick a key (like G) and run up and down and swap positions until I have that down, and then try a different key? Or should I focus on being able to play a single position and being able to apply that pattern around the neck for a given root note, and then on to learning the next position?
Quote by innovine
What is a good way to practice these different scale positions? Should I pick a key (like G) and run up and down and swap positions until I have that down, and then try a different key? Or should I focus on being able to play a single position and being able to apply that pattern around the neck for a given root note, and then on to learning the next position?

Easiest way is to get lessons and be taught licks that are based on the scales and then improvise. Its how I learnt. Just keep messing around with the notes until your ears start picking up what sounds good on what chords etc. Eventually you click and you are able to improvise solos ontop of chord sequences and hear where you want to go next and pretty much know what youre doing through the feel of the music. Its quite magical. Try starting by getting a blues chord progression loop that you know the key of and just have fun messing around. Maybe even have the shapes infront of you for reference.

If you cant get lessons, try learning easy solos and figuring out how they fit within the scales. For example the solo to Nothing Else Matters by Metallica is based around the 1st and 2nd Minor Pentatonic scale and a few aeolian mode notes added.

Even rhythms can follow the scales. An example is Seek and Destroy by metallica's intro, or Jettblack's Two Hot Girls's break/outro.
Last edited by karstaag666 at Mar 15, 2012,
Quote by innovine
What is a good way to practice these different scale positions? Should I pick a key (like G) and run up and down and swap positions until I have that down, and then try a different key? Or should I focus on being able to play a single position and being able to apply that pattern around the neck for a given root note, and then on to learning the next position?

Pick a note that's in the key you're working with and then pick a note that's at least a good 10 frets away, the further the better.

Then find a way of going from one to the other and back without playing the same note more than once, making sure you stay in key.

The important thing here is not that you do it fast, you can take as much time to think about what you're doing at any time but do it regularly and it'll get easier each time because you'll be learning the notes that work for whatever key you're in.

Just make sure you practice in many different keys.
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Pick a note that's in the key you're working with and then pick a note that's at least a good 10 frets away, the further the better.

Then find a way of going from one to the other and back without playing the same note more than once, making sure you stay in key.

The important thing here is not that you do it fast, you can take as much time to think about what you're doing at any time but do it regularly and it'll get easier each time because you'll be learning the notes that work for whatever key you're in.

Just make sure you practice in many different keys.

That gets you learning intervals but does nothing for learning how the notes sound when you play them ontop of chords or how they work in relativity to a song. the whole point of the scales isnt to just run up and down them, its to 'feel' them and be able to use them in your playing.

At the end of the day if all you do is run up and down the intervals, you end up like a guitarist I sometimes jam with at open mic nights. All he does is just go up and down the scales as fast as possible and it sounds wank because none of it is through feeling the music and playing what suits the song at that point in time.
Quote by karstaag666
That gets you learning intervals but does nothing for learning how the notes sound when you play them ontop of chords or how they work in relativity to a song. the whole point of the scales isnt to just run up and down them, its to 'feel' them and be able to use them in your playing.

At the end of the day if all you do is run up and down the intervals, you end up like a guitarist I sometimes jam with at open mic nights. All he does is just go up and down the scales as fast as possible and it sounds wank because none of it is through feeling the music and playing what suits the song at that point in time.

If you want to learn how to play a scale and where the notes are on the fretboard that method will work, if you want to learn how they sound over chords then get someone/something to play a chord in the background but really nothing can tell you how to use a scale you know but using a scale you know.

You will notice I never said anything about speed, I just said this will help you locate the notes of the fretboard; knowing the sound of a scale is useless unless you know where to get that note you hear in your head.
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Quote by karstaag666
That gets you learning intervals but does nothing for learning how the notes sound when you play them ontop of chords or how they work in relativity to a song. the whole point of the scales isnt to just run up and down them, its to 'feel' them and be able to use them in your playing.

At the end of the day if all you do is run up and down the intervals, you end up like a guitarist I sometimes jam with at open mic nights. All he does is just go up and down the scales as fast as possible and it sounds wank because none of it is through feeling the music and playing what suits the song at that point in time.

I agree here. Definitely get a friend, or youtube some backing tracks. Quit worrying so much about the shapes, they're just notes, not some binding contract. You can play what ever you want whenever you want, where ever you want to on the fretboard.

Yes play within the shapes while you're learning, but don't treat them as a restrictive force that you must obey at all times. Just jam around on them otherwise you'll end up like malmsteen and only be good for high speed scale practice.
Cheers for all the help guys, i appreciate it. It's still doing my head in a heap but i'm sure i'll get there sooner or later.
This might sound like ridiculous advice, but doing lots of mental math and getting good at it is bound to help you make more sense of theory. Numerical memory also helps too, like trying to remember a phone number after only hearing it once and memorizing things like your debit card number.

EDIT: Of course, it won't give you more knowledge of theory, but it will make this stuff easier to comprehend due to getting your "hardware" used to doing weird things with numbers. People really tend to neglect the mathematical side of music.
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Last edited by JimDawson at Mar 16, 2012,