#1
I've been practicing the A minor pentatonic scale (all five boxes) for some time now. But why is it called 'A Minor' when it starts with 6 open strings, and then repeats from the 12th fret? isn't that E minor?
It puzzles me, where should I start off soloing in a song that is in the key of C for example? start off on all strings (meaning first position from the scale) from the 8th fret?

Hope you understand my question.
#2
If it uses all 6 strings open then it probably is the E minor pentatonic but that doesn't actually have any relevance to its name.

The A minor pentatonic scale uses the notes A, C, D, G, and E. E minor is E, G, A, B, and D.

The important thing there isn't the order you play them or the location of those notes on the fretboard, those things are incidental, the important thing is the notes.

The same thing applies to the C minor pentatonic, if you're playing in the key of C minor then the notes you want are C, Eb, F, G, and A#. The shapes help you find these notes quickly and with minimal thinking involved, but they're a result of the scale, the scale doesn't come from the shapes.
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#3
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
If it uses all 6 strings open then it probably is the E minor pentatonic but that doesn't actually have any relevance to its name.

The A minor pentatonic scale uses the notes A, C, D, G, and E. E minor is E, G, A, B, and D.

The important thing there isn't the order you play them or the location of those notes on the fretboard, those things are incidental, the important thing is the notes.

The same thing applies to the C minor pentatonic, if you're playing in the key of C minor then the notes you want are C, Eb, F, G, and A#. The shapes help you find these notes quickly and with minimal thinking involved, but they're a result of the scale, the scale doesn't come from the shapes.

Only criticism I have is that in any variation on C (save chromaticism), A# is non existent, Bb only.
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#4
Not sure I really follow.
I'll try to explain what I've been practicing, just the first box:
E: open - 3.fr
A: open - 2.fr
D: open - 2.fr
G: open - 2.fr
B: open - 3.fr
e: open - 3fr
Does this mean I'm in E minor?

Again, my question is, should I start off my first box from the 3.rd fret if I were to play a solo to a song in the key of G?
Like this:
E: 3.fr - 6.fr
A: 3.fr - 5.fr
D: 3.fr - 5.fr
G: 3.fr - 5.fr
B: 3.fr - 6.fr
e: 3.fr - 6.fr
#5
From what I know, if I nail these five boxes, I can solo to any song, no matter what key its in. I'm just suppose to move my start out point to the right place on the neck, and the go from there with my five boxes, is that correct?
#6
Yes that is Em.If you were to start that same set of notes from the 3rd fret low E string instead,You would be playing the G Major pentatonic scale as E is the relative minor to G.If you were to transpose that shape up to start from the 3rd fret(first finger) then you would be playing the G minor pentatonic scale.I think what Zaphod is trying to do is to get you to think about the notes you are playing rather than just thinking 'boxes'.But essentially you are right.If you start that pattern off with a different 6 string root then that is the key you are playing in.A good thing to do would be to learn the notes in that pentatonic scale and try to figure out the different shapes for yourself accross the fret board.It's a good way to memorise it and the notes that are used to construct it.Remember that the root note is not always on the 6th string,Infact it only appears there twice(unless you have a 24 fret guitar).Learn the 5 notes that construct the Em/G Major pentatonic scale and find them in the next position up and then the next and so on.
Last edited by EyeballPaul at Jan 4, 2015,
#7
Quote by EyeballPaul
Yes that is Em.If you were to start that same set of notes from the 3rd fret low E string instead,You would be playing the G Major pentatonic scale as E is the relative minor to G.If you were to transpose that shape up to start from the 3rd fret(first finger) then you would be playing the G minor pentatonic scale.I think what Zaphod is trying to do is to get you to think about the notes you are playing rather than just thinking 'boxes'.But essentially you are right.If you start that pattern off with a different 6 string root then that is the key you are playing in.A good thing to do would be to learn the notes in that pentatonic scale and try to figure out the different shapes for yourself accross the fret board.It's a good way to memorise it and the notes that are used to construct it.Remember that the root note is not always on the 6th string,Infact it only appears there twice(unless you have a 24 fret guitar).Learn the 5 notes that construct the Em/G Major pentatonic scale and find them in the next position up and then the next and so on.


Sorry if I'm being a bit slow here, but from what you're saying, starting off from the 3rd fret with the first box is both G major AND minor?

Anyway, you confirm that I'm right, which means (just to be sure), that if I have a backing track which is played in the key of C, then I should start soloing with the first box from the 8th fret:
E: 8th - 11th
A: 8th - 10th
D: 8th - 10th
G: 8th - 10th
B: 8th - 11th
e: 8th - 11th

I realize that there aren't enough frets for me to use all five boxes then, but please tell me if I'm right here, thanks.

I know I should start learning all that note theory you guys are talking about. I just need get this other thing clear first.

Thanks for taking the time out to help me all of you, I really appreciate it :-)
#8
Quote by Döj
Sorry if I'm being a bit slow here, but from what you're saying, starting off from the 3rd fret with the first box is both G major AND minor?

Anyway, you confirm that I'm right, which means (just to be sure), that if I have a backing track which is played in the key of C, then I should start soloing with the first box from the 8th fret:
E: 8th - 11th
A: 8th - 10th
D: 8th - 10th
G: 8th - 10th
B: 8th - 11th
e: 8th - 11th

I realize that there aren't enough frets for me to use all five boxes then, but please tell me if I'm right here, thanks.

I know I should start learning all that note theory you guys are talking about. I just need get this other thing clear first.

Thanks for taking the time out to help me all of you, I really appreciate it :-)
Yeah.E minor and G Major have the same notes in them and yeah,8th fret.Jam away.
Last edited by EyeballPaul at Jan 4, 2015,
#9
Quote by EyeballPaul
Yeah.E minor and G Major have the same notes in them and yeah,8th fret.Jam away.


Thanks, great news to hear that what I've been practicing aren't a complete waste.

Something still confuses me though.
From what you've written I can actually start off with the first box from the 3rd fret, even if the backing track is in the key of E.
Also I read somewhere that if I play B pentatonic scale (that would be first box starting off from the 7th fret), that it sounds good with a backing track in the key of D.

Are these exceptions something you simply need to know by heart, or is there some kind of explanation that would make it all make sense?
#10
Quote by Döj
Thanks, great news to hear that what I've been practicing aren't a complete waste.

Something still confuses me though.
From what you've written I can actually start off with the first box from the 3rd fret, even if the backing track is in the key of E.
Also I read somewhere that if I play B pentatonic scale (that would be first box starting off from the 7th fret), that it sounds good with a backing track in the key of D.

Are these exceptions something you simply need to know by heart, or is there some kind of explanation that would make it all make sense?
Every Major key has a relative minor.The same notes are present in both.For G Major the relative minor is Em,They contain the same notes which can be played over either a G Major backing track or an E minor backing track.You can start playing on whatever note you choose.
If you are just playing the scale up and down you would generally play from the root note of whichever scale it is that you are implying I.E In the position you have learned,Start on the open E string for E minor or start on the 3rd fret of the low E for G Major.
And yes B is the relative minor of D Major.
#11
Thanx a lot man :-)

I found this by doing a quick search for "list of minor relatives to major keys"

Major/minor scales - Relative minor

C Major = A minor

D Major = B minor

E Major = C# minor

F Major = D minor

G Major = E minor

A Major = F# minor

B Major = G# minor

Seems like the possibilities are endless if you start using these.
For instance if your backing track is in B major, instead of starting your solo on the 7th fret, you might as well start off from the 4th fret (because G# is the relative minor to B Major), that would give you more frets to work with, and essentially give you the possibility to use all five boxes, without running out of frets.
Am I getting this right?
#12
Hi Döj

Any scale is defined by its interval makeup.

Once you choose a root somewhere, then the notes of that scale are located at these intervals from the root (and also octaves of these).

The minor pentatonic has intervals of (1, b3, 4, 5, b7)


(interval "1" = unison, same as root)
(interval "b3 = 3 semitones above root)
(interval "4" = 5 semitones above root)
(interval "5" = 7 semitones above root)
(interval "b7" = 10 semitones above root)

... if you lay out (1, b3, 4, 5, b7) on one string, then you choose some fret (e.g. the open string), and then go up 3 frets, another 2 frets, another 2 frets, and another 3 frets.

If your start note is E, the scale is an "E something" (such as E minor pentatonic). If your start note is F, the scale is an "F something" etc.

It all repeats again starting 12 frets higher than your initial choice.

The whole shape "slides" along a string (until something "falls off" running out of frets.

But you can achieve the same by wrapping the scale over multiple strings instead.

In fact, with a six string guitar in standard tuning, a block of 12 frets (e.g. 0 (open string) to 11, or 3 to 14. 5 to 16, etc) can be broken into 5 regions (boxes), based on where the octaves occur. This leads to 5 shapes (one per box) for whatever the scale is. The right hand edge of a lower box shape (i.e. nearer nut) typically is the same as the left hand edge of its neighbouring box shape (nearer the body).

Because things start again 12 frets higher, this is why you can use the identical shape for (say) E min pentatonic at both fret 0 (open string, root is at open bass E), and 12 frets higher on same bass string.

When we say "E min pent", this says the scale is rooted off E (as above). If we say "A min pent", the scale is rooted off A, (for example, shape starts at 5th fret, bass E string), and so on.

If you learn your interval shapes, and especially octave patterns, it will become much clearer and much simpler to you. It will give you a lot less to learn.

The following lesson may help you:

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/the_basics/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html


cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 4, 2015,
#13
Thanks Jerry.
I already know my five boxes, and understand that I can move them up and down the neck.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm interested in knowing if I can use a relative minor as a my root note.
Say for examble the track I want to play along to is in the key of B, can I play a G# scale to that instead of a B scale?
#14
Quote by Döj
Thanks Jerry.
I already know my five boxes, and understand that I can move them up and down the neck.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm interested in knowing if I can use a relative minor as a my root note.
Say for examble the track I want to play along to is in the key of B, can I play a G# scale to that instead of a B scale?


You can play a shape that looks like that but it's important to know that you'll only be playing B major if you do that. All this relative minor stuff is only really useful for key changes in songs, otherwise it just confuses the issue of keys and scales and so on.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


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#15
Hello Guys,

I do agree with Zaphod, you still playing the B major but in pentatonic mode (if you play in G#). Everything is related to the major so you still in B major. If you like the play with the pentatonics you can use another one wich is going to fit in B. This one is the C# Minor. This pentatonic is part of the B major.

I hope this helps.
#16
Quote by Döj
Thanks Jerry.
I already know my five boxes, and understand that I can move them up and down the neck.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm interested in knowing if I can use a relative minor as a my root note.
Say for examble the track I want to play along to is in the key of B, can I play a G# scale to that instead of a B scale?


I think you're best bet is learning more about theory ... it'll reveal the relationships between chords and scales.

I suspect what you're getting at is how you can reuse your vocabulary you've learned for the minor pentatonic in other contexts?

The main thing to appreciate is that the notes you emphasise will need to change, even reusing the exact same shape, depending on the context you use it in.

So, for example, G# minor pentatonic has exactly the same pitches as B major pentatonic, and hence identical neck shapes ... BUT ... they will sound very different depending which pitches you make stand out.

Pragmatically, if you play a G# min pent / min blues lick that ends on its root (e.g. G#) and was preceded by the b3 (B), this will create a minor flavour. And the more you emphasise these. the more this flavour stands out to the ear. Whereas, if you emphasise the B, D# and end on a B, you've bringing out the B major flavour.

One very simple trick is just to use your minor pentatonic lick, and finish it with the notes G# up to nearest B, or D# down to nearest B, for a major sound, or finish it with a B down to nearest G# for minor sound.

The above are obviously not the whole story, but may help you

cheers, Jerry
#17
It's complicated stuff,
think I'll stick with the root note, being in the same key as the song for now.

Thanx for all the help and advices, cheers