Improvising With Knowledge, Lesson 1

How do you start creating guitar solos on your own? What scales should you use? How do you place the scales on the neck? You're answers are here.

Ultimate Guitar
Greg Studley is happy to announce the Improvising With Knowledge Ultimate Guitar Lesson series.

Improvising with knowledge: lesson 1

In this lesson, we will talk about the fundamental scales needed for soloing over minor chords. Many of you have already heard of the minor pentatonic scale. It is the best place to start for guitar improvisation over a minor chord. (Don't worry, there's a major pentatonic scale for major chords too.)

First, you will need to know the notes across the E-string. This string serves as your method of placing the minor pentatonic scale. A G minor pentatonic scale must be positioned at the note G, and a D minor pentatonic scale must be positioned at the note D.

Once you know the notes across the E-string, you can place the minor pentatonic scale wherever you need! One of the best ways to practice this is to play the scales in this order:
  • Em pentatonic scale
  • Fm pentatonic scale
  • Gm pentatonic scale
  • Am pentatonic scale
  • Bm pentatonic scale
  • Cm pentatonic scale
  • Dm pentatonic scale
The following video contains all of the different exercises listed above, with scrolling TAB so you can play along. You can also download PDF versions of the exercises and play with free jam tracks at

YouTube preview picture

About the Author:
Greg Studley is an author of "A Guitarist's Guide to Improvising With Knowledge" and "Speed, Accuracy and Technique for Guitar."

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Well explained, it was clear and slow enough. I hope that you'll cover different positions of a minor pentatonic in the future lessons, as they are extremely useful in improvisation. There's a bit too much advertising here for my tastes, but it's a rising trend here in UG. At least there is no "registration required" here, it's cool that this stuff is available for anyone.
    You've probably found an answer elsewhere by now but in the shortterm start by using a scale that fits the Key of the song (usually the first chord played) and it should fit with the progression being played underneath as they are just chords made from the scale anyway. Some notes in a scale sound out of place with certain chord progressions but you learn which work and which don't as you go. Later on you will discover all sorts of differentt says of approaching your improvising.....
    do you just use scales for whatever key the song is in or do you use scales for whatever chord is being played at this certain point in time. for instance if there is song in a key of G minor with the chord progression (Gm, Cm, Dm) does that mean I play the G minor pentatonic scale, or does that mean I use the Gm pentatonic scale when the Gm chord is playing then switch to Cm pentatonic scale and so on.Thank you in advance. I am new to the idea of soloing and lead guitar.
    Hi swill77, I know it's a late answer, but maybe it helps you: When you have a chord progression, you can always play the coresponding pentatonic scale over each chord. This is the difference to the Major or Minor scale: you can't play ever note of the C Major scale over a F Major Progression (for example F B C) because you have a B Note in C Major scale, but F Major has a B Flat note. But you can play F Maj pent over F Major chord, B pent over B chord and finally C Maj pent over C Major accord in this chord progression. You don't have to worry about keys of your progression you are soloing over: The pentatonic scale automatically skips the notes, which are not fitting. Isn't this amazing? :