#1
New to soloing in the Am Minor Pentatonic scale? Stuck on what to use in your improvisation? Read on for the help your looking for.

The first thing you should take into consideration is the what key your backing track will be in. For this lesson, we will use my favourite scale - the A Minor Pentatonic Scale. This makes the Key Am. So you could play to a chord progression of Am-C-G-D. First, you need to know where the positions are of the A Minor Pentatonic scale. Here is the first position of the Am Pentatonic scale - Learn this well.
k
Ascending:


E|---------------------------------------------5---8---|
B|-------------------------------------5---8-----------|
G|----------------------------5---7--------------------|
D|-------------------5---7-----------------------------|
A|----------5---7--------------------------------------|
E|-5---8-----------------------------------------------|


Descending


E|-8---5-----------------------------------------------|
B|---------8---5---------------------------------------|
G|-------------------7---5-----------------------------|
D|----------------------------7---5--------------------|
A|-------------------------------------7---5-----------|
E|----------------------------------------------8---5--|

Once you have learned that shape well, learn the other A Minor Pentatonic boxes. Ascending and Descending.

1)

E|---------------------------------------------8---11--|
B|-------------------------------------8---11----------|
G|----------------------------8---10-------------------|
D|-------------------8---10----------------------------|
A|----------8---10-------------------------------------|
E|-8---11----------------------------------------------|

2)

E|---------------------------------------------10--13--|
B|-------------------------------------10--13----------|
G|----------------------------10--12-------------------|
D|-------------------10--12----------------------------|
A|----------10--12-------------------------------------|
E|-10--13----------------------------------------------|

3)

E|--------------------------------------------15--18---|
B|------------------------------------15--18-----------|
G|---------------------------15--17--------------------|
D|------------------15--17-----------------------------|
A|---------15--17--------------------------------------|
E|-15--18----------------------------------------------|

Once you have learned them positions ascending and descending, you can move onto the next part of the lesson.

Scales and Boxes
The Am Pentatonic boxes each correspond to a note from the Am pentatonic scale. Fore example, the notes of the Am Pentatonic scale are A-C-D-E-G. The Am Pentatonic scale's C note on the low E string (8th Fret) is the start of the C Major Pentatonic scale. This shows that the C Major Pentatonic scale is the second box from the Am Pentatonic Box.

Here is the Am Pentatonic scale, and then the C Major Pentatonic scale in tab.


e|---------------------------5-8----------------------------------8-11--------------- |
B|---------------------5-8-------------------------------------8-11------------------ |
G|----------------5-7----------------------------------8-10-------------------------- |
D|-----------5-7--------------------------------8-10--------------------------------- |
A|------5-7------------------------------8-10-----------------------------------------|
E|-5-8----------------------------8-11------------------------------------------------|

This shows that the second and last note of the Am Pentatonic Scale is C (8th fret), which links the Am Pentatonic Scale to the C Major Pentatonic Scale. The same works for the other scales in the Am Pentatonic box.

Making a Chord Progression
Although you may have the urge to solo from the Am Pentatonic Scale, and the boxes, you should have a try at making a chord progression. The notes of the Am Pentatonic scale are: A, C, D, E, G. Remembering those notes, you can try playing the chords, which you can then create your own chord progressions, and make your own backing tracks from them. Not only can you do that, but if your for example wanting to play an arpeggio over a backing trac, if you learn the notes of the Am Pentatonic scale boxes, you will be able to switch to a chord from say, one of the C Major Pentatonic scale's notes, and play an arpeggio of the chord when the backing track gets to the C Chord, or D chord, etc.

Techniques

If you want to make your own solo's, you need to know the basic techniques. We will be

When I started improvising from the Am Pentatonic, I made up little licks using basic techniques. You should ensure you're familar with the following techniques;

* Hammer ons: h.
* Pull offs: p.
* Vibrato: ~.
* Bends: b.
* Pre-bends: pb.
* Bend & release: br.
* Slides: /.

1) The Slide, Vibrato, Bend/Release lick:

E|-----------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------|
G|----------5~---7br----5~-------------------------|
D|---5/7----------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------|

Simple but effective. I'd often follow it with this lick:

2) 

E|-----------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------|
G|-5h7p5--------------------------------------------|
D|------------7~----5----7~------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------|

Those licks sound good in any of the Am Pentatonic box shapes, and to this day, I still frequently use them while playing with backing tracks.


When I played with backing tracks, I'd evolve from the licks above into the last Am Pentatonic minor box, which would sound good, like as though you were going from a verse to chorus. The main lick was:

E|---18b----18--15h18p15-----------------------|
B|---------------------------------18~--15~-18b--|
G|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------|

Another lick that was popular with me was:

E|-15-------------------------------------------------|
B|-18b-----------------------------------------------|
G|---------15h18p15-------------------------------|
D|-------------------------17pb----------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------|

Make your own licks, even use some of the licks I use - Your idols use licks similar to these, so why can't you?
Last edited by AdamDK at Aug 17, 2006,
#2
It's... good. What you've said, you've said well. But you could say a lot more.

  • Adding the b5.
  • Playing outside.
  • Chromatic passing.
  • Chord tones.
  • Scale degrees.
  • Chord progressions.
  • Three note per string examples.
  • Sweep examples.
  • Call & response.


There's more to the pentatonic scale than simple motifs and cliché blues licks. True... that's where the improviser is going to start out, but I get the feeling you're putting the message across that all there is to soloing in the minor pentatonic is blues motifs, when that isn't even the half of it.

So, just some thing for you to consider adding and going into detail about.

Spelling, grammar & tips.

  • New to soloing from the Minor Pentatonic scale? Stuck on what to use in your improvisation? Read on for the help your looking for - Try... 'New to soloing in... ' or 'New to soloing using the... '.
  • Firstly, you need to choose the key you want to solo in, and what you want your backing track to be in. - Try... 'The first thing you should take into consideration is the key of your backing track... ' or something to that effect and give an example! You're exampling the A Minor pentatonic, so give an example of a backing track chord progression you'd use it over.
  • In this intro section... use paragraphs. Once it's been read over a few times, you're going to have stuff to add, and it's going to turn into a wall of text if you're not careful. So start using paragraphs. It's fine as it is, but just a heads up
  • First, you need to know where the positions are of the A Minor Pentatonic scale - Which one do they do first? Choose their key or learn the positions? ... Try... 'The second thing... ' - and change it to... '...positions of the A Minor Pentatonic are.'
  • USE THE CODE TAGS! Chances are, if this gets accepted once you've added your stuff, a mod or admin isn't going to want to stick code tags around your tabs and find out they don't line up and consequently ruin the whole lesson. So tidy them up and use code tags.
  • You've missed one position here... the position that comes before the 'first' positions and starts on G. Granted you've shown it an octave higher, but still... someone new to the game isn't going to know that and it isn't automatically going to click.
  • Once you have learned them positions ascending and descending, you can move onto the next part of the lesson. - Try something like... 'Once you have learned the aforementioned positions, you're ready to get down to business... '.


Okay, the technique section - your first paragraph is a mess. Hard to read and incoherent with all the brackets and symbols. Tidy it up. Maybe something like this...

'Techniques!

This lesson assumes you know the basics of reading tablature and have a good idea of the most basic techniques a budding improviser is going to utilize. If you're a bit sketchy - here's a run through of what we're going to be using in this lesson.


Hammer ons: h.
Pull offs: p.
Vibrato: ~.
Bends: b.
Pre-bends: pb.
Bend & release: br.
Slides: /.
'

Back to spelling, grammar and tips....

  • When I started improvising from the Am Pentatonic, I made up little licks using basic techniques. They don't sound like licks you'd hear people like Slash, Hendrix, etc play, but they do sound good when your playing with a backing track - Wow! They are licks you'll hear Slash & Hendrix playing! You're going to hear these licks everywhere from Slash, Satch and Friedman. They're popular... and saying something like that is really off-putting, a budding improviser who wants to be the next Hendrix isn't going to bother learning those licks if he isn't going to sound anything like his idol.
  • Here is where you should elaborate on call & response when you're giving your examples.
  • Those licks sound good in any of the Am Pentatonic box shapes, and to this day, I still frequently use them in Backing Tracks at speeds of 90bpm or below - To be honest here you're driving the concept of this scale as just a series of boxes into the head of the reader and learner - which is bad. Sure, you can say that, but make sure you make the distinction between boxes and scales. Ensure that you explain once someone is comfortable inside the boxes, they should start thinking of them as notes. The '90bpm' line is irrelevant.
  • Have a try at making your own licks like I have - Basic but work effectivly when improvising solo's - Lol, have a try at making your own? That is the premise of improvising you know ... Say 'Make your own licks... ' and ensure them that using your examples isn't ripping you off. Also, effectively*.
  • I'm not sure about the tapping section... it's really irrelevant to a beginner just getting to grips with the pentatonics... it seems like something you've stuck in to make up for lack of elaboration elsewhere .


All in all, it's not a bad lesson - but it could be so much better... either way, give what I've said a thought and see what you can change.
#3
I'll try and work on some tips you've gave me John, thanks.

EDIT: Added in about Chord Progressions and the Scales/Boxes. I'm not going to add about sweeping, or 3-Note-Per string runs, etc, because this is meant to be for the very beginner to soloing.
Last edited by AdamDK at Aug 17, 2006,
#4
I'll give it another once over

  • The Am Pentatonic boxes are made up from the scale of a note from the Am Pentatonic scale. For example, the first Am Pentatonic (Starting at the 8th fret) is actually the start of the C Minor Pentatonic. So in other words, the boxes are made from the scales from the notes that are in the scale your using - This is a bit confusing and really just a string of words that make no sense what-so-ever. I'll go through it in detail.


The Am Pentatonic boxes are made up from the scale of a note from the Am Pentatonic scale. For example, the first Am Pentatonic (Starting at the 8th fret) is actually the start of the C Minor Pentatonic. - Made up from the scale of a note? Try something like... 'The Am Pentatonic boxes each correspond to a note from the Am pentatonic scale...' - Next you've said the first position is the Cm pentatonic scale... you've labelled two positions as the first. Which one is it? Plus! The Am pentatonic starting at the 8th fret is the C Major pentatonic, not minor. It's also spelt you're.

You haven't gone into enough detail and explained that each note coressponds to a box position. Give an example in tab with the notes labelled, so it's crystal clear.

You still haven't wrapped your tabs in code tags!


I'm off to work now, so I haven't got time to do the rest - so that'll leave you enough time to re-think that first part and when I get back, I'll go through the rest again.
#5
"Once you have learned that shape well, learn the other A Minor Pentatonic boxes. Ascending and Descending."

you listed other keys of the same minor pentatonic box pattern yet you said those were all other "A minor pentatonic boxes". Take out the "A" and that will be correct. You could end up with a novice making very painful solos if he thinks all of those would go well with the a minor pentatonic.