Scales: A Minor Pentatonic ( 5 positions )

One of the most commonly used scales in improvisation is the Minor Pentatonic scale. Shown below are 5 positions of the A Minor Pentatonic scale. The second position shown is probably the most commonly used shape of this scale. While learning all five is highly recommended, start off by learning the adjacent positions (1 and 3) as this will offer you far more variety in your playing.

Remember that these scales can be played anywhere on the neck. In the case of this scale, if you were to start the same shape (pattern) one fret higher it would become the Bb Minor Pentatonic scale. One fret lower and it becomes the Ab Minor Pentatonic scale.

When practicing any scale, always start off slowly. Play precisely and cleanly remembering to double pick ( pick .. down, up, down, up, down etc.). Speed will come but you will see much better results if you work on precision first.

The lessons on improvisation will give you some ideas on how to use these scales to their fullest advantage.

Click on the diagram for an MP3 audio example.

Click here if you’re not sure how to read the scale blocks.

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  1. Hey, just stumbled upon your site here and Im sure glad I did. Ive always wanted to delve into the world of scales and make some sense of it all. I just started into your exercise for the minor pentatonic and major scale there and I like what I see. IVe been playing on/off for like 15 years and I should be better but sometimes when you dont have the right direction, it stunts your growth….looking forward to more of your lessons!

  2. Very cool site, I hope you are making a few bucks off the ads, because it is evident you have thought this out, put a lot of work into it, and very nicely done!
    Thanks for taking the time, and mp3 files too!
    Where were you with this site 15 years ago, lol!
    Thanks again man,

  3. Thanks. Personally, I’ve never practiced any scales, yet I’m pretty good at picking. Practice is the operative word when wanting to be able to play by ear. Folks who want to learn the guitar usually get fed up because they don’t sound like SRV or EVH within the first month. It’s just they don’t realize the amount of practicing that’s involved in getting good. Pretty much just like anything else I suppose. I just bought a new Strat American Deluxe to sit with my 2005 Telecaster American Deluxe and my 1957 Gibson J50, my Yamaha FG-B1, my Carparelli Ba-Dasse and my Squire Stradisaster…no use giving up now. A Les Paul is going to be next I guess…you truly cannot have too many guitars…a Southern Jumbo would be nice too beside a nice Martin. Thanks.

  4. Gerald Dixon Cummings says

    This really helps for them damn scales. There like wiping your ass, you really don’t like doing it, but you MUST…that’s if you plan on learning to play lead, riffs, intros and sols. Much appreciation to who took the time to put this up. The internet has helped me improve my guitar playing 101% at least.

  5. Hi Gil,

    Thanks for the awesome stuff.

    Wondering if it would be too much to ask for a chart for lefties also?


    • Gil Namur says

      Hi Kay,

      Thanks for your note. Wish I had time to do that. I created each of these manually and it was a lot of work especially for a free site.

      You could try saving the images to your PC and then flipping the horizontally. The text will be backwards but the patterns would be correct!

      Good luck.

  6. Hi Gil
    I have just discovered your site and will be spending a bit of time looking about it… starting with the minor pentatonic scales!
    I have just returned to playing after a long time away. I never played any scales much before and really would like to learn. I have been working on the minor pentatonic scales Em and Am. Having played before I am getting on not too bad but I used to play mainly finger style and classical guitar and am finding using a plectrum a bit more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Unfortunately I have most of my ability to read music , which is a really shame , but am getting a really buzz out of just hitting a few notes again. Don’t take this as any criticism but I notice you give the first scale of the Am pentatonic from the G on the third fret of the bottom E string whereas most others give it as starting from the A on the 5th fret. Can you comment on that please? I have seen another youtube vid where the teacher also gave the first position as from the G so you are not alone but nearly every other article on the Am give the first as at the A on the 5th fret. Things like this puzzle me and I always like to know why.
    Anyway thanks for the chance to learn a bit more.

  7. Hi Gil

    I should have said that many tutors show your first position as the 5th position but a full octave higher so starting on the 14th fret.



    • Gil Namur says

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comments πŸ™‚
      I call it position 1 because that’s how I learned it years back. Yep, lots of folks call it 5th on the 14th fret. But I just find that silly because I think position 1 should be the lowest πŸ™‚
      Good luck with your playing!

  8. John is correct… you have the notes correct, but you’ve named your positions incorrectly.

  9. Thanks for the the help on Gil I am just a beginner at playing the guitar and this site has helped me alot I would love to start improvising on all these position so this is just what I am looking for thanks again for all your help…

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