Minor Pentatonic Scale - Third Position (Guitar Lesson)

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Will Ripley

Minor Pentatonic Scale - Third Position

Will now brings us the 3rd position of the minor pentatonic scale. This is one of the great rock guitar scales, and Will is building towards having you cover the entire fret board with this scale!

Taught by Will Ripley in Rock Guitar for Beginners seriesLength: 4:42Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Lesson 36, Scene 1: (0:01) Hey, it’s Will Ripley with JamPlay.com. So we are going to get into the third position of the minor pentatonic scale, in the key of E. At this point, I hope you have your first position and your second position, memorized. I will go into those (scales) briefly as well, showing you how to interconnect these guys (patterns).

Lesson 36, Scene 1: (0:20) Let’s throw up the E minor pentatonic, third position chart, and let’s work through this together. It is a dead giveaway that this is a scale chart because there are so many notes here. This is probably the toughest minor pentatonic shape (refer to the diagram in the video). It might take some getting used to. Now it is really important, especially, that you follow the fingerings. These fingerings are the most ergonomic way of playing this scale (refer to the chart).

Lesson 36, Scene 1: (0:43) As you can see, we use the following fingerings:
-use the 2nd finger on the 5th fret and 4th finger on the 7th fret of the 6th string
-we continue the same fingering on the same frets for the following two strings (5th & 4th strings)
-most people might feel comfortable using the 1st & 3rd fingers instead of the 2nd & 4th
-you will see why you want to set it up (with 2nd & 4th fingers)
-on the 3rd string, we want to use the 1st finger which is lined up over the 4th fret
-the 4th finger will line up over the 7th fret on the same string (3rd string)
-for the 2nd string, we do need to shift up 1 fret which aligns the 1st finger over the 5th fret (5th position), while the 4th finger will align over the 8th fret
-for the 1st string, the 1st finger will play the 5th fret and the 3rd finger will be aligned over the 7th fret (see scale diagram on video for frets and fingering of the entire scale)

Lesson 36, Scene 1: (1:25) So let’s try that again from the start (referring to playing the 3rd position of the minor pentatonic scale). Let’s go nice and slow….1, 2, 3, go…

Lesson 36, Scene 1: (1:36) Playing through the scale pattern (refer to the lesson video and supplemental material).

Lesson 36, Scene 1: (1:47) All we do is go down (playing the scale in descending order). That is your third position (pattern). Definitely a tough one to get under your fingers and memorize, but it’s really important.

Lesson 36, Scene 1: (2:07) Now, keep in mind what you are trying to do with your right hand. Keep it (right hand) down (resting) on the bridge, while using alternate picking. We’re gliding our hand along the bridge. One hand is working with the next. When one hand comes down, the other one follows it, working together.

Lesson 36, Scene 1: (2:29) So let’s work on the rhythm, so you can tap your foot behind it (while playing the scale). Work on the clarity of the notes. Once that is really solid, and your right hand technique is all good, then you can start working up the tempo (going form quarter notes to eighth notes for example and/or increasing the tempo speed).

Lesson 36, Scene 2: (0:01) We want to connect all these. The best way to do this is by starting with the first position minor pentatonic, proceeding to the second pattern as well as the third.

Lesson 36, Scene 2: (0:10) You could just actually just practice them all, like up and down. Currently playing through the first pattern in open position (open E minor pentatonic scale – see video for reference).

Lesson 36, Scene 2: (0:17) Then there is second position (2nd pattern played and demonstrated on video).

Lesson 36, Scene 2: (0:23) Third position…..(demonstrated in video).

Lesson 36, Scene 2: (0:30) Now, what I would suggest, is that you go up one (scale) and then down the next. You start by going up the first position scale (open E minor pentatonic), and then down the second position scale (also called the major pentatonic in reference to the root note of G instead of E). Then, play up the third position (pattern) scale.

Lesson 36, Scene 2: (0:46) Since those three patterns are the only ones learned so far, we can then go back down the 3rd position/pattern scale, then up the 2nd pattern and down the 1st (as demonstrated in the video).

Lesson 36, Scene 2: (1:00) You can optionally, start by going down the 1st position/pattern scale and then up the 2nd pattern, and then down the 3rd. It is really tricky going down the 3rd scale pattern. It will really test you whether you know these scales or not. Get the scales memorized, making them solid. Really hone in and double check your technique. Make sure your right hand is down and resting (on bridge), while doing the alternate picking. Be really aware (in regards to the alternate picking). A lot of people will do a varied and inconsistent pattern of going down and up in regards to picking. Make sure it’s like a big, old grandfather clock (consistently back and forth). The tick tock-er is just going back and forth, just like your pick. It’s really, really solid.
Lesson 36, Scene 2: (1:47) So that is it for the E minor pentatonic scale in the 3rd position (pattern). Get all the patterns memorized. Practice hard. Catch you in the next lesson.


Video Subtitles / Captions


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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


freefly8freefly8 replied

I have tried these shapes in different locations. They sound great and I know now it will put in different keys......thanks....it makes shapes more important.

urbansavageurbansavage replied

Will, Do the 1, 2, and 3 position always have to be in the same frets or can those positions be played from any fret as long as the pattern stays the same?

jboothjbooth replied

You can move it around as you see fit, just be conscious that the key will change as you move it.

jboothjbooth replied

You can move it around as you see fit, just be conscious that the key will change as you move it.

Rock Guitar for Beginners

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Will Ripley

About Will Ripley View Full Biography

Will Ripley is a passionate guitarist who performs, teaches, and manages a successful music business. His wild stage presence and undeniable guitar skills transcend vibe and waveforms of the highest levels of energy.. His talents however, are directly related to years of staying “on the grind” and “paying his dues”. He has played with many bands, produced, composed and collaborated both solo and with top level musicians. He is a sought-after studio musician and works creatively with other musicians.



Coming from a blues and classic rock background, Ripley discovered 90?s rock in his late teens. Ripley’s style is unique. He’s been described as combining the blues guitar playing of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix with big riffs that are reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine with the booty shaking rhythms of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and N.E.R.D. Ripley also has a soft place in his heart for pop music ranging from The Beatles to Stone Temple Pilots to Kelly Clarkson.

In addition to creation and production of music, Ripley teaches guitar using a method he developed through his education and over countless sessions with learners of all ages and levels. This led to the development of a successful series of recorded lessons called Guitar Goals available from his website. As the founder of the Will Ripley Guitar School he has begun expanding as a franchise into other cities which has 1 location currently – the Vancouver Guitar School. Students the world over can learn guitar using this effective, rewarding, and enjoyable style at their own pace – with epic results!

Ripley seeks participation in authentic, professional-level music, with like-minded, enthusiastic, high-achieving musicians. With dreams of creating legendary songs, Ripley is open to new band mates, songwriting partners, and recording opportunities.

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