Free Guitar Lessons San Francisco — Thursday Exercise #1: The Minor Pentatonic Scale, 1st Position

To start off this series of scale exercises, we’re going to pick a scale that is both easy to learn and incredibly versatile to use: the minor pentatonic scale.

Pentatonic scales have 5 notes (major and minor scales have 7 notes), making them relatively easy to learn. They are also perfect for soloing, and as long as you stay within the scale, you’ll have a hard time hitting a sour-sounding note. This makes pentatonic scales an ideal place to start.

We’re starting with the minor pentatonic scale, which is the same as a minor scale without the 2nd or the 6th notes in them. If this is confusing to you, don’t worry, it’s not necessary that you get it right now. Here’s what you need to know…

In these exercises we’ll be using the A minor pentatonic scale. If I play notes from this scale with an A minor chord in the background, the scale will sound very close to a minor scale. If I play the notes of this scale with an A major or an A7 chord, the scale will have a blues or rock sound.

It’s simple! Check out the video below and follow along.

Here are the tabs for the 1st position of the Am pentatonic scale: Am Pentatonic Guitar Scale, 1st Position Tab

There are a total of 5 scale positions for A minor pentatonic (and for all pentatonic scales for that matter). Today we’re going to go over the first position, and next week we’ll do the second position, then the third, and so on. Each week, try to follow the example and really get to know that one scale position backwards and forwards. After we get through all five positions, I’ll show you how you can connect the positions together easily, allowing you to solo up and down the entire neck in this scale.

An added bonus is that if you can learn these five scale positions, you will be able to play every pentatonic scale (there are—you guessed it—five of them). For now, let’s get started with position #1. We’re going to start on the first scale degree of A minor: A. In this case, the 5th fret of the 6th string.