How to play the Minor Pentatonic scale!
If you’re only gonna learn one scale to solo with on the guitar it would have to be the minor pentatonic.
When practicing as the video exercises demonstrate, aim to clearly see the relationship between the minor barre chord shapes and the minor pentatonic scale shapes.
Once this connection is clear, take note of all intervals inside every scale shape.
First you have to learn the five shapes individually before you connect them.
The Em shaped Minor Pentatonic
The minor pentatonic scale use the same notes as the minor chord: R, m3rd and the 5th.
These notes will appear in a few more places than just in the chord shape, for example, there’s a m3 on the 1st and 6th string, fret 8.
Two more notes are added to complete the scale: the 4th and the b7th.
The easiest way to look at a scale is to visualise a chord shape and then build the scale around that chord shape.
When you can play the Em pentatonic scale shape in Am and Dm, continue through the cycle of 4th, just like you did with the first barre chord exercises.
The Am shaped Minor Pentatonic
The Am shape is the closest looking shape to the Em shape, make sure you know all intervals inside it.
When you can play this shape in Am you have to move it to all other keys like this: Am – Dm – Gm – Cm – Fm – Bbm – Ebm – Abm – Dbm – Gbm – Bm – Em.
The Dm shaped Minor Pentatonic
Below you’ll find the Dm shaped minor pentatonic video lesson, study carefully, call out intervals as you play it.
The Dm shape can be tricky to remember the intervals of, especially below the root note.
In the video you find this scale in Am and Dm. When you can play these, continue around the full cycle of 4th.
The Gm shaped Minor Pentatonic
The Gm shape is the easiest shape to remember since it appears in such a symmetrical way on the neck.
Ironically, it is probably the least used shape.
As with all other shapes you first learn it in Am and Dm before you move the scale around the entire fretboard. Ideally you want to do this using a metronome and not miss a beat.
The Cm shaped Minor Pentatonic
You will phrase differently with the Cm shape compared to the due to its layout on the fretboard.
Because of this, the Cm shaped minor pentatonic is a great place to find new ideas.
Make sure you are still visualising the chord shape and all surrounding intervals when you use it.
This is the last shape to learn. Ensure you really know it by running it through the cycle of 4th.
Connect Minor Pentatonic scale shapes
The video lesson show you how you can connect all 5 minor pentatonic shapes in the key of Am and Dm.
In order for you to play an exercise like this you have to know each individual shape.
If you have been practicing all individual shapes and come to the conclusion that you need to move on, then you have come the right place.
In the video lesson the exercise is played using triplets. Before you start practicing along with the video or to a click, just play through it without any specific rhythm.
You have to get each swap between shapes exactly as in video.
When you can connect all shapes in Am and Dm, move on to the 10 remaining keys as well.
The Minor Pentatonic through the cycle of 4th
This is the last minor pentatonic exercise and it’s self-eliminating.
When you can play this you can play all 5 shapes of the minor pentatonic!
This means that once completed, you should never have to practice a minor pentatonic scale again, ever.
In the video you see how this time the cycle of 4th goes to the closest shape possible, rather than run around the neck.
Minor Pentatonic Improvisation
This improvisation use the A minor pentatonic scale.
There are no chords to support this scale, notice how the phrasing target the strong notes.
Make sure you can see what shapes are being played throughout and remember:
1. All minor pentatonic scale shapes can be traced back to the minor barre chords
2. You have to learn all shapes of the minor pentatonic scale in order to freely improvise with it.
3. Use Chordacus to visually see how the shapes move around in relation to each other.
Conclusion Minor Pentatonic
To learn the minor pentatonic in all five shapes does take some time, especially as it is most likely the first scale you learn.
First you have to learn all five shapes and be able to play them anywhere on the neck.
This is achieved by running each shape, one at a time through the cycle of 4th.
Following this it’s time to connect the shapes up and down the neck as well as using the concept of closest shape possible.
When you can play the minor pentatonic it is easy to learn all minor modes as well as the min7 arpeggio shapes.
To learn more about the minor pentatonic, how and when to use it and learn actual songs that use it, take the Intermediate Guitar Course.