5 Pentatonic Positions

We’ve already looked at the first two pentatonic minor shapes in previous lessons. This lesson we will take a look at the other three shapes that complete the set of five shapes which in turn will cover the whole neck. This means that if you know all five shapes you will instantly know where the appropriate notes are, anywhere on the neck.

Once you get quick at transposing the scale shapes into different keys, you’ll start to know where the appropriate notes are in any key, in any place on the neck. This is obviously a great asset to have as a guitar player. In previous lessons we have already gone through how to place, and transpose these scale patterns into different keys, but as you’ll be learning three new shapes this lesson, we shall also be going over how to place and transpose these scales in the next two lessons.

Firstly, let’s recap on the first two shapes of the pentatonic minor scale:

A Pentatonic Minor – Position One

a pentatonic minor position one

A Pentatonic Minor – Position Two:

A pentatonic Minor position two

The TAB shows these shapes played in the key of A minor

With these larger patterns, the note values have been identified instead of recommending an appropriate finger to use. You should, by now, have a good idea of what finger to use and where, just remember the simple rule of trying to keep one finger to each fret as much as possible. By identifying the note values, you can start to see where the most important notes (R, b3) are within the scale pattern. This knowledge is key to being able to improvise effectively and also move the patterns into different keys.

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The next three shapes of the pentatonic minor scale are shown below. Start by trying them in the key of A minor. Again, the TAB shows these positions placed in the key of A minor:

A Pentatonic Minor – Position Three:

A Pentatonic Minor Scale Position Three

A Pentatonic Minor – Position Four:

A Pentatonic Minor Scale Position Four

A Pentatonic Minor – Position Five:

A Pentatonic Minor Scale Position Five

Once you have learnt how to play these shapes in the key of A minor, it’s really important that you start you learn where the important notes are in each position. You should start to see patterns evolving within the shapes, between each note. It cant be stressed how important it is to learn the position of the root notes/flat thirds and the fiths, once you know where these notes are in each position you’ll be able to move each position into a different key very easily and when improvising or creating riffs you’ll have a clear idea of what notes are going to fit, and which ones might not work so quite so well.

After practicing these positions you should notice that they all link together to cover the whole neck. The diagram below shows you where all the root notes and flat thirds are positioned on the neck, when playing in the key of A minor. This proves that a good knowledge of the notes on the neck, in addition to learning your scale positions allows you visualise the neck of your guitar in a really useful manner, instead of the random collection of notes that most people new to the guitar may see.

For the purpose of this diagram the 4th position starts from the open strings, and the 5th position is positioned on the 3rd fret.

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