Extension Of Pentatonic Minor Scales

This lesson shows you how to apply the notes of the pentatonic scale all over the fretboard, in places you may not normally go.

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Alot of lessons about pentatonic scales just show the oh-so-ubiquitous A Minor Pentatonic, which goes like this:
e|--5--8
B|--5--8
G|--5--7
D|--5--7
A|--5--7
E|--5--8
Now, that's all very well and just, but to expand your technique, you're going to need more than just that, which is only one out of the five basic positions. (There is a scale position starting at each of the five notes) A minor pentatonic scale is made up of five different tones (Penta = Five.) Let's use E minor in this example Root = E Minor 3rd = G Perfect 4th = A Perfect 5th = B Minor 7th = D And then the octave = E again The five basic pentatonic shapes all use the same five notes, but each position starts with a different note, giving each a slightly different sound. The First position we all know, or, most of us. This is mostly shown in A Minor, but you should recognize this as the basic pentatonic shape. It starts on the root of the scale:
e|--0--3
B|--0--3
G|--0--2
D|--0--2
A|--0--2
E|--0--3
The second position starts from, surprise, surprise, the second note of the scale, the minor third (G). Most of you probably don't know this position, as it is rarely shown.
e|--3--5
B|--3--5
G|--2--4
D|--2--5
A|--2--5
E|--3--5
The third position is from the third tone, the perfect fourth.
e|--5--7
B|--5--8
G|--4--7
D|--5--7
A|--5--7
E|--5--7
The fourth position is from the fourth tone, the perfect fifth.
e|--7--10
B|--8--10
G|--7--9
D|--7--9
A|--7--10
E|--7--10
And finally, the fifth position, from the fifth note, starts on the minor seventh of the scale.
e|10--12
B|10--12
G|-9--12
D|-9--12
A|10--12
E|10--12
The twelfth fret here is exactly one octave above the open notes, and so you would start repeating the scale positions from there.
e|12--15
B|12--15
G|12--14
D|12--14
A|12--14
E|12--15
The E minor pentatonic, if you had to reduce it to a diagram, would look like this: (the number of the position is written above the root)
1    2  3  4    5
0----0--0--0----0--0
0----0--0----0--0--0
0--0--0----0--0----0
0--0----0--0--0----0
0--0----0--0----0--0
0----0--0--0----0--0
1    2  3  4    5
Now, unbelievable as it may seem, this entire shape is moveable, to suit whichever key you're playing in. my advice is to just memorize each shape, and how they follow after each other on the fretboard, and to help with this, know that: The distance between the 1st and 2nd position's roots on the low or high e string is three frets Between the 2nd and 3rd is two frets 3 = 4 is also two frets 4 = 5 is three frets 5 = repeat is two frets I hope this lesson was helpful, just in getting you to explore the further reaches of the pentatonic scale, often overlooked.

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23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    danleary
    Cool, it's hard to find places where all the forms are written out like this. Very helpful.
    rhythmchick
    Are there specific fingerings for these patterns? i.e. pattern n+5 over 5 frets, do you use 1st and 3rd fingers, or 2nd & 4th? Hard to find this info, any general rul on that? Also, any info on best strings to travel on from one pattern to the next?
    utopia
    yea blinding to see different scales,as ime only used to e petatonic and blues scales
    danleary
    Hmm, I think I might have misunderstood what you are asking, sorry! Minor pentatonic always has a b7. What do you mean by state it?
    danleary
    rhythmchick wrote: My understanding is that all scales relate to the formula of the Major scale. If so, in the Minor Pentatonic, why is it not stated as b7, as the 7th is one whole step below the root?
    Some forms of the minor scale do not have a b7. The only flat required in minor is b3. Also, the 7th is not one whole step below the root... a b7 is. 7th is only one half step below the root.
    Mr. Song
    Honestly, the fingering is completely up to you, whatever feels comfortable, but I heavily recommend training your pinky. I'll post a lesson as to how I use my fingers, but if anything doesn't feel right, just adapt it to your style
    rhythmchick
    My understanding is that all scales relate to the formula of the Major scale. If so, in the Minor Pentatonic, why is it not stated as b7, as the 7th is one whole step below the root?
    motor03
    This was extremely helpful to me. I'm back playing after a long hiatus so while I'm not a beginner I am definitely rusty. This lesson definitely helped me remember some things. Thanks!
    Mr. Song
    Lydian? sure, i've been meaning to apply the pentatonic formula to modes.. Locrian gets you some pretty . . . interesting sounds. but sure, i can do lydian for you if you want, the same way a i did the pentatonic minor, just say the word
    onevoiceinc
    Anyone know where I could get some more info on the melodic minor modes, or more specifically, the lydian dominant mode? Been messing with it lately, but too lazy to map it out, lol.
    Mr. Song
    Sultan Of Rock wrote: Very informative, but your final pattern needs fret numbers on it to show where the positions and spaces between frets are.
    Sure, thank you, I'll keep that in mind next time
    Sultan Of Rock
    Very informative, but your final pattern needs fret numbers on it to show where the positions and spaces between frets are.
    glassinthegrass
    If you having trouble grasping this concept, check out www.all-guitar-chords.com and chose scales and you will be able to choose whatever scale you want and the key and it show all the notes and hence all the patterns. That website is amazing. tons of other good tools as well on there.
    blastfrom1988
    so minor pentatonics are just the root, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th? if so that is easier than i thought