Essential Blues Guitar Lessons Part 14: The minor pentatonic scale – Shapes 4 & 5

We round-up our year-long exploration of the basics of blue by finishing off the five basic shapes of the pentatonic scale.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton during Tsunami Relief Concert Cardiff – Show at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Great Britain. Image: Rowen Lawrence / WireImage

Over the course of the last few months, we’ve been piecing together the shapes of the minor pentatonic scale. In this lesson, we will cover the final two shapes in one bumper session and then we can dig into some very exciting playing topics.

These final two shapes will give you an entire octave of the fretboard to cover with a scale shape. This will then allow us to really start digging into some creative playing with these scale shapes and seeing what patterns we can place in different fretboard registers.

Example 1

Essential Blues Pt 14 Ex 1
Exercise 1
Essential Blues Pt 14 Ex 2
Exercise 2

First up, we’re going to look at the fourth shape of the scale, and in the key of A minor that means that we’ll start at the 12th fret from the E note, which is the fourth note in our pentatonic scale. Practise the shape in ascending and descending fashion until you really get it under your fingers.

Example 2

Essential Blues Pt 14 Ex 3
Exercise 3
Essential Blues Pt 14 Ex 4
Exercise 4

To conclude our exploration of the pentatonic scale, here’s the fifth and final shape. There’s, of course, a nice symmetry in all this, as you’ll notice that the highest notes of this shape also become the lowest notes of our first shape. This means once we hit the 17th fret, we can transition back into our first shape again one octave higher. This also means, from our first shape at the fifth fret position, we can also find a fifth shape lower than it, starting on the third fret.

Try it yourself

Now that we’ve covered the five shapes that the Minor Pentatonic scale has to offer, you can revisit the idea of playing them in different keys. You’ll notice that depending on where you put your first scale shape, this will have a knock-on effect on how the other shapes join up.

Sometimes you’ll be forced to work backwards to hit some of the shapes because you won’t have enough fretboard to run the shapes up the neck. This is a great way to start learning your way around the fretboard in different keys if you have not already done this.

If you have enjoyed this lesson and you’re looking for a guitar teacher in your local area, check, and speak to one of our highly recommended teachers.

Next time, we’ll take all the concepts we’ve covered in the last few issues and start to build them into some exciting licks in the style of famous players and dig into our creativity and make your guitar really sing.

About the author

Leigh Fuge is a guitar teacher and professional musician from Swansea in the UK. He has taught hundreds of students, both in-person and via the MGR Music platform. Leigh has over 10 years’ experience working in the industry as a touring musician, session guitarist and teacher.


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