Am Pentatonic Scale Use

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

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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.
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 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. 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 Minor 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?

65 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    bsquizzato
    That first pattern of the Am pentatonic that you show is correct, but the following boxes are not the proper boxes for the Am pentatonic scale. You've shown the same box with 3 different root notes, with a C and D and G. So while these notes are in the key of A minor itself, you are not playing the A minor pentatonic scale when you play that pattern at the different root notes. I guess your point here was to change the scale you're playing when the chord that its being played over is changed, but technically, you're not playing different boxes of the A minor pentatonic scale, you're playing the pentatonic scale starting on the root notes for the notes in an A minor scale. (someone let me know if I'm not making this clear enough...)
    GWiz2
    Well... You kind of missed the mark here. You can't play Position 1 of Am pentatonic in other places on the fretboard (except at fret 17) and be in key. Here is the complete Am Pentatonic scale broken down by Positions 1 through 5. I think these are accurate as I don't have my guitar in front of me right now and I am going off of memory. I also included the scale pattern diagrams at the bottom to show a piture of how these scales break down. Am Pentatonic Position 1 E|-----5---8---| B|-----5---8-----| G|-----5---7-----| D|- ----5---7-----| A|-----5---7-----| E|-5---8-----| Am Pentatonic Position 2 E|-----8---10--| B|-----8---10-----| G|-----7---9-----| D| -----7---10-----| A|-----7---10-----| E|-8---10-----| Am Pentatonic Position 3 E|-----10--12---| B|-----10--13-----| G|-----9---12-----| D|-----10--12-----| A|-----10--12-----| E|-10--12-----| Am Pentatonic Position 4 E|-----12--15---| B|-----13--15-----| G|-----12--14-----| D|-----12--14-----| A|-----12--15-----| E|-12--15-----| Am Pentatonic Position 5 E|-----15--17---| B|-----15--17-----| G|-----14--17-----| D|-----14--17-----| A|-----15--17-----| E|-15--17-----| R = ROOT (In this case A) Am Pentatonic Position 1 R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| X--|--X--|--| X--|--R--|--| X--|--X--|--| R--|--|--X--| 5th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 2 |--X--|--X--| |--X--|--R--| X--|--X--|--| R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| 7th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 3 |--X--|--X--| |--R--|--|--X X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| |--X--|--R--| |--X--|--X--| 9th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 4 X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| X--|--R--|--| X--|--X--|--| R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| 12th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 5 |--X--|--R--| |--X--|--X--| R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| |--X--|--R--| 14th Fret Have fun and ROCK ON!
    AGAINST ME!
    This is the best article i have found on this whole site. He knows what he is talking about and it is easy to follow. 5 stars
    Beximus
    My teacher is introducing me to improvising solo's with the AM Pentatonic, so this is good - given me a couple of new ideas to try. Cheers.
    fleh
    this is complete bollocks and from the relplies has clearly mislead a lot of people. you need to learn the theory properly before teaching other people how to get it wrong.
    dean749
    Quite good and easy to learn but what fleh said points out its wrong??? how do i know im beginner haha i hope im learning the right scale or something here!!
    EldonsName24
    I should use the Am Scale tune the guitar drop-D half a step down hehe: C#, G#, C#, F#, Bb, D#.
    eggytheused
    those tabs for the scales and all are easy to follow and good, its just that i still don't know squat about the note mumbo jumbo and the C minor A minor scale stuff and the letter notes and what not. theres gotta be a way to drill this stuff into my head cuz every article i read about guitars says something about that kinda stuff and it loses me. am i too noobish at guitar to learn any of this stuff??
    D99741
    good tabs helps me under stand more and move faster, once again i must say ""
    AdamDK
    Metal_Ibanez_89 wrote: I thought heres only on position for the Am Pentatonic scale and thats the 5-8, 5-7, 5-7, etc. If you go to the 8th fret, thats a B. Hows that an Am?
    8th fret = C
    synysterA7Xrule
    Hey, its a good lesson and all but, can you use all those boxes in the same key cause they all start with different notes and stuff
    acid eaters
    great lesson it's just what i needed cause i was stuck writing a solo and this lesson helped a lot
    MRWHITE35
    GWiz2 wrote: Well... You kind of missed the mark here. You can't play Position 1 of Am pentatonic in other places on the fretboard (except at fret 17) and be in key. Here is the complete Am Pentatonic scale broken down by Positions 1 through 5. I think these are accurate as I don't have my guitar in front of me right now and I am going off of memory. I also included the scale pattern diagrams at the bottom to show a piture of how these scales break down. Am Pentatonic Position 1 E|-----5---8---| B|-----5---8-----| G|-----5---7-----| D|-----5---7-----| A|-----5---7-----| E|-5---8-----| A m Pentatonic Position 2 E|-----8---10--| B|-----8---10-----| G|-----7---9-----| D|-----7---10-----| A|-----7---10-----| E|-8---10-----| Am Pentatonic Position 3 E|-----10--12---| B|-----10--13-----| G|-----9---12---- -| D|-----10--12-----| A|-----10--12-----| E|-10--12----- | Am Pentatonic Position 4 E|-----12--15---| B|-----13--15-----| G|-----12--14---- -| D|-----12--14-----| A|-----12--15-----| E|-12--15----- | Am Pentatonic Position 5 E|-----15--17---| B|-----15--17-----| G|-----14--17---- -| D|-----14--17-----| A|-----15--17-----| E|-15--17----- | R = ROOT (In this case A) Am Pentatonic Position 1 R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| X--|--X--|--| X--|--R--|-- | X--|--X--|--| R--|--|--X--| 5th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 2 |--X--|--X--| |--X--|--R--| X--|--X--|--| R--|--|--X-- | X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| 7th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 3 |--X--|--X--| |--R--|--|--X X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X-- | |--X--|--R--| |--X--|--X--| 9th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 4 X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| X--|--R--|--| X--|--X--|-- | R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| 12th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 5 |--X--|--R--| |--X--|--X--| R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X-- | |--X--|--X--| |--X--|--R--| 14th Fret Have fun and ROCK ON!
    this is right not the first one thanks GWiz2
    F8iscruel
    ok im not a noob at guitar but im not great at it so and there is always one thing that gets me how do u transfer a scale into a solo i cant make that connection and my guitar playing is suffering ... i think i should get a teacher but im unsure because this is a good site but i think i would do better on the scales part with a teacher i think someone plz post a response to this one wether i should get a teacher for learning scales casue i no my guitar palying will not grow with out it Imm a goofy goodber ROCK
    FvckU
    woohoo, the old pentatonic scale! It's clearly the more used scale on hard rock and heavy metal
    Seether13
    Are the box formats the same fingering layouts for each key? Or do they change?
    ZA58
    There is only one penticonic scale for meit also helps me in soloing with blues and I offent find peolpe mis it its the blues scale its basic form is E1-4then A1-2-3thenD1-3thenG1-3-4thenB1-4and finally e1or1-4
    evo145
    ALOT OF MUSIC USES MINOR PENT FOR THE MAJOR KEY OR FLAT ROOT. If you play in Major or minor give the old coresponding pent scale a try for your root key.HERE'S SOMETHING THAT I HOPE WILL HELP.KEY MINOR PENT SCALE THAT COULD WORK =DA F#m or Gbm Ab Fm B G#m or AbmBb GmC AmD BmDb A#m or BbmE C#m or DbmEb CmF DmG EmGb D#m or EbmI noticed this post is old now but for anyone picking this up i cannot guide you enough when saying learn scales. The pentatonic is a great place to start, then maybe Major scales? I noticed some trouble over-head about solo work, stick on the scales experiment, abuse the fret board, play from the heart what are you scared of? Look if it sounds good to you, it will only keep you working on it anyways. Though a teacher would cut years and years of heart ache for heavy end theory n stuff :..( a multitrack recorder is great for you backing, and hey who knows!
    dr.tolgademir
    Mu guitar teacher plays Am pentatonic over the chord progression "Am-F-Dm". But the notes of this scale does not contain F. So is it true to play over a F chord.
    jonovips13
    Jumboshrmp wrote: rakista3 wrote: waaaahh.. i dont know how to read tabs.. teach meeeee This site should help you: www.google.com
    lol NICE, And thanks for this its top.
    hzleliminator
    that is a very helpful stuff for beginners, and a very easy and interesting start too, once you inculcated this lesson in between your ears, the rest of your sentinels instinct will follow and drift your awareness to the secrets of good guitar playing techniques, and for fellow neophytes, dont rush things, practice your guitar playing the way you live your life everyday, you will feel and hear the difference every time you pick up your guitars. i know because im doing it and it is working like a miracle.... ciao!!!
    kwikfingers-uk
    This lesson is right in what hes saying but ignore the tab cos it doesn't make sense...instead read Gwiz2's comments, hes tab's are right.
    biglaz84
    anyone who wants to know how to play certain scales just go to all-guitar-chords.com and they have every scale u could ever wanna learn laid out beautifully, boxes are good but they are hard to understand, this lays it all out in front of u and is much easier to digest
    hzleliminator
    that is a very helpful stuff for a bgginner, and a very easy and interesting start too, once you inculcated this lesson in between your ears, the rest of your sentinels instinct will follow and drift your awareness to the secrets of a good guitar playing techniques, and for fellow neophytes, dont rush things, practice your guitar playing the way you live your life everyday, you will feel and hear the difference every time you pick up your guitars. i know because im doing it and it is working like miracle.... ciao!!!
    alternatex
    rakista3 wrote: waaaahh.. i dont know how to read tabs.. teach meeeee
    how about looking at some of the 50 lessons on that right here on UG -.-
    chady101
    man u tought me alot about soloing and scales and improvision, probs to u , thanks
    GWiz2
    Well the scale patterns didn't turn out like I expected but hopefully you get the picture.
    kb7010
    You people are being to hard on the poor guy IMHO.. note that is says... " category: for beginners " take it as such... yeah I already know all this info.. but I didn't 20 years ago when I first started playing...
    the_triangle
    GWiz2 wrote: Well... You kind of missed the mark here. You can't play Position 1 of Am pentatonic in other places on the fretboard (except at fret 17) and be in key. Here is the complete Am Pentatonic scale broken down by Positions 1 through 5. I think these are accurate as I don't have my guitar in front of me right now and I am going off of memory. I also included the scale pattern diagrams at the bottom to show a piture of how these scales break down. Am Pentatonic Position 1 E|-----5---8---| B|-----5---8-----| G|-----5---7-----| D|- ----5---7-----| A|-----5---7-----| E|-5---8-----| Am Pentatonic Position 2 E|-----8---10--| B|-----8---10-----| G|-----7---9-----| D| -----7---10-----| A|-----7---10-----| E|-8---10-----| Am Pentatonic Position 3 E|-----10--12---| B|-----10--13-----| G|-----9---12-----| D|-----10--12-----| A|-----10--12-----| E|-10--12-----| Am Pentatonic Position 4 E|-----12--15---| B|-----13--15-----| G|-----12--14-----| D|-----12--14-----| A|-----12--15-----| E|-12--15-----| Am Pentatonic Position 5 E|-----15--17---| B|-----15--17-----| G|-----14--17-----| D|-----14--17-----| A|-----15--17-----| E|-15--17-----| R = ROOT (In this case A) Am Pentatonic Position 1 R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| X--|--X--|--| X--|--R--|--| X- -|--X--|--| R--|--|--X--| 5th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 2 |--X--|--X--| |--X--|--R--| X--|--X--|--| R--|--|--X--| X- -|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| 7th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 3 |--X--|--X--| |--R--|--|--X X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| |- -X--|--R--| |--X--|--X--| 9th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 4 X--|--|--X--| |--X--|--X--| X--|--R--|--| X--|--X--|--| R- -|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| 12th Fret Am Pentatonic Position 5 |--X--|--R--| |--X--|--X--| R--|--|--X--| X--|--|--X--| |- -X--|--X--| |--X--|--R--| 14th Fret Have fun and ROCK ON!
    wow thats hard to understand
    GWiz2
    Not trying to be to hard on anyone. The category is for beginners in which this is a beginner topic. The author of this information should not be a beginner though. A beginner should have the proper foundation to learn how to play their instrument correctly. Having incorrect information does not help a beginner. My post was only meant to show the correct positions of the Pentatonic paterns for Am (in this case). I did see that the author stated that the proper scales where submitted but somehow didn't make it into this article. I can accept that but the correction may be helpful.
    AdamDK
    bsquizzato wrote: That first pattern of the Am pentatonic that you show is correct, but the following boxes are not the proper boxes for the Am pentatonic scale. You've shown the same box with 3 different root notes, with a C and D and G. So while these notes are in the key of A minor itself, you are not playing the A minor pentatonic scale when you play that pattern at the different root notes. I guess your point here was to change the scale you're playing when the chord that its being played over is changed, but technically, you're not playing different boxes of the A minor pentatonic scale, you're playing the pentatonic scale starting on the root notes for the notes in an A minor scale. (someone let me know if I'm not making this clear enough...)
    You're right. I submitted this sometime in 2006, and in my thread on the forums, I posted corrections for the scales I think. Guess they used original one.
    warlockking
    pretty good, but like they said those scale diagrams are wrong unless you are trying to make some kind of hybrid modular scale or something.