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Open Position Minor Pentatonic (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Brennan

Open Position Minor Pentatonic

Take your knowledge of the notes in the first position and start jamming on a simple pentatonic riff.

Taught by Mark Brennan in Basic Electric Guitar seriesLength: 14:34Difficulty: 1.0 of 5

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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

JoeAxemanJoeAxeman replied

Super; really enjoyed the riff. Would like lots more. I'm stuck on scales and CAGED Patterns/Shapes, but can't find melodic riffs to practice. Going very well so far.

iwilrageiwilrage replied

This needs to be slowed down!

iwilrageiwilrage replied

This needs to be slowed down!

PhilthoPhiltho replied

This was really cool. It seemed more difficult than it really was. Once you practice the scale over and over to memory before trying the lick, then the lick becomes instantly easy to do! However, now I am finding that I am palm muting when I don't want to, but I suppose that is part of the learning curve also. :)

BobBullardBobBullard replied

Hi Mark...just wanted you to know I am following your beginner course. I am using the archives to do it at my on pace. I very much enjoy your teaching, thanks...Bob

Jamosu72Jamosu72 replied

Is it just me or is there no written lesson in the about section here on this lesson?

kuturakikuturaki replied

impressive entrance :D

CavanaughCavanaugh replied

Mark you always start each lesson with a rif. is it possible for you to upload the tabs / music?

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied

Hi there, Mark may not see this so I wanted to respond. Typically we don't provide tab for non-teaching elements of lessons and as a result there's nothing available for the lead-ins here. However I'd recommend using the link feature (chain link button below the lesson video) and joining in on a Live Q&A session. Give the instructor that link which will take them to that spot on the video and they should be able to help you out with it.

doctuh_jaydoctuh_jay replied

Good lesson, Mark. Having the notes light up as they're played makes it worth the price of admission. I'm pretty sure from here I'll be approaching Stevie Ray type stuff in a few days. That sounds realistic, right?

wgp2wgp2 replied

Hi,I really should have been commenting all along. I'm really enjoying and learning from Mark's lessons. Great explanations about the underlying musical theory and at just the right pace.. Thanks, Bill

58Rich58Rich replied

Great Riff But just getting it memorized,I have been working on it a week 45 min at a time and just getting it with out palm mutting any tricks to memorize quicker Rich

mountainriveramountainrivera replied

I came here from guitar tricks and wondering what took me so long. Loving Mark's lessons. I do agree with others. There was a nice lead in to the open pentatonic then seemed to go to warp speed here (for my pea brain). I had lots of trouble keeping up but used the looper to eventually get it.

HilkeHilke replied

Having trouble printing Lesson 11 and supplemental material. Always comes up as blank. Had no trouble with earlier lessons. BTW, lessons are terrific

jaybojaybo replied

how long has Mark been gone from here, often times I feel I am talking to/about a ghost!!

jaybojaybo replied

I would like to personally thank Mark for such a cool and effective method od teaching John McGee (jaybo)

terry45terry45 replied

Is this thing on?? Is there any recent comments or replies?

prusso07prusso07 replied

Great lesson, would be nice to see some palm muting examples or did I miss something?

eickeick replied

Great lesson. I was not real happy at first but when i figured out how to use the flags it turned out great. thx

daristanydaristany replied

This tune is very nice and not too hard. I have a question though, why is our right hand all down storkes? It seems to be easier to alternate the unmuted section with up and down strokes for me. Is this a training with down strokes?

marylinemaryline replied

Luv that lesson! :))

rustyh1rustyh1 replied

Like the lesson and the riff! I think it'd help to have a little more description about what makes up a Pentatonic scale and what makes it a minor - maybe include that info in the lesson notes (this is the first of this series that I haven't seen notes for - I find them handy. In fact, I print them off and keep with the excercises).

badkatbadkat replied

Lesson went a little fast for what you were showing. Went from a simple scale to a fast lick that was very hard to keep up with. Lick needs to be slowed down and broken down for beginners. Sounds great, looks like fun.

solidsolid replied

I agree. This lick is not that hard, but considering that it is only Lesson 11 in Mark's beginner series, I thought it could have been slowed down a lot.

brennantourignybrennantourigny replied

I had a hard time trying to follow him in the video, but used that to get a feel for it then used the tabs in supplemental content and had no issue.

letitiajletitiaj replied

Great lesson. I am really enjoying this series. I have been playing , self taught, for a few years. but going back and improving on the building blocks has been a great help. Always had a problem with muting, but you now have that sorted. Thanks a lot Mark!

croleecrolee replied

Love this lesson, Mark. thanks a lot!

mickmanmickman replied

oh how the head hurts !!! I spent about an hour or two going back and forth over the lesson.. watching each note highlight on the animated overlay of a fret board... took some time to sort out but I got it pretty well licked now.. Some way of slowing the video down would help heaps. I try to use the two A&B edit flags a lot to envelope the area I am tryin to understand & simply let it loop over and over.. but this can be difficult when fingers start moving fast.

SteveP1961SteveP1961 replied

It's a great lesson'd be nice if we could slow the video down.....just saying...actually first Pentatonic I've been able to understand....Thanks

nash24nash24 replied

Great lesson. I love it when things click!!!!!!!

AaronMillerAaronMiller replied

dsreed22dsreed22 replied

Hi Mark, great lessons - I'm new, been at it a week and trying to get it right. - After a few hours practicing sitting down I was a little cramped so I tried this standing up. The perspective is a lot different standing up - all of the sudden my right hand technique was not as strong as I thought it was and the guitar moves around a bit more. Is this normal, perhaps my posture is incorrect? Thanks, D.R.

nstratfordnstratford replied

For standing up, try putting the strap around the back of your neck only, not over your shoulder. This helps pull the guitar toward your left hand instead of away from it. It helped me a great deal.

mtbluesmtblues replied

I see how lots of riffs utilize the octaves. That is, I see how you use the note & octave of each chord progression to create riffs. Very good advice for creating your own riffs with at least a little structure for thought... I think.

antonio76antonio76 replied

Hi! Just wondering if I could have the 'suplementarl content' of these lessons in PDF.... I dont really want to print it and I would like to keep it in my PC.... Is that possilbe?? Downloading the whole htm is a mess. Thnaks!!

sniffersniffer replied

The summary for this lesson is missing. If it's available I would love to have it. By the way.. Thanks for being such a good teacher.

fourdownfourdown replied

Diagram of the A5 chord (In supplimental material) shouldn't have a "2" circled should it? It's on a lot of diagrams.

fl1pperfl1pper replied

Mark, great lesson as always. Any tips on how to play onlong to the metronome? What i mean by that is that I can play the riff no problem at all until that evil little device on. As soon as I do, both my left and right hands forget what they are doing and it all goes horribly wrong. To be slightly more accurate, I cope ok as through the parts that are all 1/8 notes, but it all falls apart when the 1/4 notes appear.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey fl1pper.....check out Dennis Hodges' phase 2 metal lesson 6 (Rhythm and Timing), scene 2. He gives a great explanation of using a metronome and learning how to lock in with it....Mark B.

fl1pperfl1pper replied

I watched Dennis' lesson and I got it!! The thing that helped was that I noticed that only says out loud the notes he plays i.e on the bar I was having trouble with I was counting out '1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and' which wasn't working, whereas changing to "1 2 and 3 and 4" worked like a charm. Thanks again for the pointer Mark. Dennis' lessons are where I intend going for Phase 2 so it was cool to get a sneak preview.

fl1pperfl1pper replied

Thanks Mark, will check that video out. It's getting a bit better but still finding it hard. Not sure whether it's adding a third thing to think about or I just don't have any rhythm. Hopefully the former 8-)

michael55michael55 replied

Hello Mark, Thanks for the great lessons. You also had a song instruction on Stairway to Heaven that seems to be no longer available online on JamPlay. Can it be brought back or accessed elsewhere? Thanks!

hixonkehixonke replied

Hey Mark, great lessons so far. I have a question about scales. You may have gone over this or it may be coming, but what is the difference between a major scale and a minor? we went over the c maj scale and jumped into the E min pentatonic. I know the key note gives the scale the name, but why the E minor?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

I introduced e minor petatonic, because the notes are derived from the C major scale. "Pentatonic" means it is a scale that has 5 this case, e,g,a,b,and d. The term "minor" whether it be a regular minor scale, or pentatonic, refers to the interval of a minor 3rd from the root note. E to G is a minor third. E to G# would be a major third.....hope this makes sense. Mark B.

hixonkehixonke replied

It does make sense. I was looking for why a scale would be a major/minor and you summed it up....thanks. I remember now from a previous lesson of yours about the 3rd being the note that makes it a major or minor. I didn't put it together until your reply. Thanks again for your quick and detailed response.

ezzadeenezzadeen replied

Hi Mark, at 02:52 you mentione that "in the key of E the 5 chord is B" I dont understand this actually. Please help. Thanks

jdorsmanjdorsman replied

Excellent lesson Mark. I got the basics, now I have to work on my speed some more, but I'll keep practicing. It's also fun to experiment with different riffs within the same scale.

scottrnscottrn replied

Is there anyway to slow the video down?

dewin32dewin32 replied

Really like the animated fretboard. Would be great if there was a jam track to practice the riff along with (I find a metronome really uninspiring). Does anybody know if there is one already on Jamplay? If not can backing jam tracks be included in the lessons?

martin.baylymartin.bayly replied

Hey dewin32 Regarding backing tracks to jam along with, have you check out the jam tracks section of the Teaching Tools part of the website. There are a couple of blues jam tracks in there. I found the "Slow 12 Bar Blues Shuffle" worked quite well with this lesson. Great stuff Mark!

pozzpozz replied

Mark, I've also enjoyed your instruction. You seem to have a natural gift for pinpointing what we need, and not a lot of hoopla. I hope you an intermediate level as well.

jtutjtut replied

Real happy with the lessons, learning faster than with private instruction. I find your much more organized than any private instruction I've encountered. Looking forward to the additional lessons.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Thanks! Five new lessons have been filmed...stay tuned!

pneumapilotpneumapilot replied

Awesome! I can't wait!

sidksidk replied

Hi Mark, I learned a lot from your lessons. Im looking forward to the lessons after lesson 11. I can't seem to find any lessons after #11 are they posted? Thanks.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Sorry for the delay in more lessons. I'll be filming a new set of lessons tomorrow (Aug. 1st). Please be patient, they'll be up soon.....Mark B.

sendbahtsendbaht replied

I needed this lesson Mark, thanks form Chiang Mai, Thailand.

pneumapilotpneumapilot replied

I guess the next one is a little behind schedule. Looking forward to much more!

ruribarreruribarre replied

Very cool! really enjoy your lessons.

tgood00tgood00 replied

Mark, thanks for the lesson. I'm really looking forward to the next.

rossetta stonerossetta stone replied

Hi there Mark, really enjoyed the lessons, right here from Caracas, Venezuela. Waiting for the next 1000 lessons to come. Keep on filming.

retiringsoonretiringsoon replied

Hi Mark, As you closed lesson #11 you referred to the "next lesson". I can't seem to find you next lesson. Am I losing it? I have really enjoyed your first 11 in the beginner series.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Roger,,,,will be filming later this month.....stay tuned. Mark B.

paceincpaceinc replied

MArk thank you for the wonderful instructions, you are great with the mphasis on fundamentals. :-)

jimmjimm replied

Enjoyed it very much. Anyway the intro tab can be made available?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

That's "In The Flesh" by Pink Floyd....that would make a great song lesson....I'll keep it in mind for future reference.

drenycdrenyc replied

GREAT LESSON!! That CHART HELPED alot!!! It was an overall quick to the point YET clearly taught lesson. Can't wait for the next!

gone workingone workin replied

Yes, the video presentation was awesome with the animating chart! And Mark, that was a great lesson. I appreciate giving it a musical context like that. I can generate a lot more enthusiasm for it because I can easily see a use. Hats off to all.

evilhedgehogevilhedgehog replied

i love the animated fretboard!!

daveclampdaveclamp replied

Excellent lesson Mark thank you, and I agree that the scale video is neat...pat yourselves on the back :)

matthias siebermatthias sieber replied

great lesson! i'm looking forward to the next one. :)

ronin808ronin808 replied

nice lesson mark and jamplay !!! I like the new scale vid add-on.

tangohuntertangohunter replied

AC DC anyone!

Basic Electric Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Mark's Phase 1 series will take you through the basics of playing electric guitar.

Series Intro - Guitar Parts and TuningLesson 1

Series Intro - Guitar Parts and Tuning

Mark introduces his Phase 1 series and covers some fundamental electric guitar basics.

Length: 30:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
AmplificationLesson 2


Mark provides a detailed overview of amplification. This lesson has some great info for any electric player.

Length: 33:55 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Using Tablature and Learning the FretboardLesson 3

Using Tablature and Learning the Fretboard

Before we start rocking, Mark goes over some tools and training necessary to every beginning guitarist.

Length: 12:52 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 4

Right Hand Technique

It's time to get some sound out of your guitar. Mark begins with picking hand technique.

Length: 31:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Left Hand TechniqueLesson 5

Left Hand Technique

Mark explains proper left hand technique from the ground up.

Length: 10:36 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Natural Notes in the 1st PositionLesson 6

Natural Notes in the 1st Position

Mark teaches you all of the natural notes played in first position. He uses two classic melodies to supplement this information.

Length: 25:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The C Major Scale - 1st PositionLesson 7

The C Major Scale - 1st Position

It's time to learn your first scale - the C major scale in first position. Mark also explains how the major scale is constructed.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chords in C major - Part 1Lesson 8

Chords in C major - Part 1

Mark covers 7 basic chords in the key of C major.

Length: 35:14 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chords in C major - Part 2Lesson 9

Chords in C major - Part 2

Mark expands on chords in C major by showing full forms of the chords you learned in Part 1. He also teaches you the chord progression to a familiar tune.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Power Chord PrimerLesson 10

Power Chord Primer

It's time to start making some noise by using power chords and palm muting. Mark gives you the framework to start rocking with the 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 36:43 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Open Position Minor PentatonicLesson 11

Open Position Minor Pentatonic

Take your knowledge of the notes in the first position and start jamming on a simple pentatonic riff.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Blues Scale Basics with Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and VibratoLesson 12

Blues Scale Basics with Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and Vibrato

Let's build on lesson 11 with an extended discussion of the pentatonic scale. For lesson 12, we'll simply add one note to the minor pentatonic scale to give us the famous minor blues scale. We'll also...

Length: 36:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Movable Power ChordsLesson 13

Movable Power Chords

Mark explains how to finger power chords and how they can be moved anywhere on the fretboard. He also shows an exercise that will help you remember the name of each power chord.

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Rhythmic Notation Part 1Lesson 14

Rhythmic Notation Part 1

Mark Brennan explains rhythmic notation, tempos, time signatures, note values, and more in this lesson.

Length: 32:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Key of G MajorLesson 15

The Key of G Major

Mark explores the key of G major in this lesson. He covers the first position pattern of the scale and explains how it can be harmonized in thirds.

Length: 33:22 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chords of G MajorLesson 16

Chords of G Major

Mark teaches the basic chords of G major as well as some other exercises to get you acquainted with this key.

Length: 34:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Key of D MajorLesson 17

The Key of D Major

Mark explains the basics of D major.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chords in D MajorLesson 18

Chords in D Major

Mark takes you through the chords of D major and explains some new ones that you haven't encountered yet.

Length: 35:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of FifthsLesson 19

More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of Fifths

Mark continues his discussion of power chords. This time around, he explains the circle of 5ths and demonstrates some power chord progressions that illustrate this concept.

Length: 33:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Movable Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 20

The Movable Minor Pentatonic Scale

Mark teaches the 1st box of the minor pentatonic scale.

Length: 32:31 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
The Minor Blues Scale Transposed to ALesson 21

The Minor Blues Scale Transposed to A

Mark explains how you can transpose the pentatonic pattern covered in lesson 20 to the key of A minor. He also shows the "lower extension box" and "home plate box."

Length: 26:09 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Blues Boogie ShuffleLesson 22

Blues Boogie Shuffle

Mark teaches the difference between straight eighth notes and the shuffle feel.

Length: 42:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Amplification Part TwoLesson 23

Amplification Part Two

In response to member requests, Mark added another amplification lesson to his growing phase 1 series. In this lesson, he compares 3 classes of amps from entry level models all the way to a Mesa Mark V.

Length: 40:45 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Introduction To ImprovisationLesson 24

Introduction To Improvisation

In this lesson, Mark teaches some blues licks that can be used when improvising over a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 24:01 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Key of A MinorLesson 25

The Key of A Minor

Mark covers the key of A minor.

Length: 29:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Two Movable Major Chord FormsLesson 26

Two Movable Major Chord Forms

Mark teaches two movable major chord forms and gives many examples of how to practice playing them.

Length: 26:10 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
I-IV-V Progression RevisitedLesson 27

I-IV-V Progression Revisited

Mark Brennan shows you how to apply the chord forms learned in lesson 26 to a I-IV-V progression.

Length: 21:52 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Movable Dominant 7th Chord FormsLesson 28

Movable Dominant 7th Chord Forms

Mark Brennan continues his teachings on movable chord forms. In this lesson he shows the dominant 7th chords and how to use them in a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 19:49 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Movable Minor and Minor 7th Chord FormsLesson 29

Movable Minor and Minor 7th Chord Forms

Mark Brennan teaches these minor chord forms and how they are movable up and down the fretboard. He also shows how to use these chords in common progressions.

Length: 21:29 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Mark Brennan

About Mark Brennan View Full Biography Mark Brennan, born August 12th, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio, began playing guitar at the age of 10. His first influences were from the Ventures and the British Invasion, especially the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Shortly afterwards he was playing in rock bands with his brother on drums, developing his ear by learning songs straight from records. Playing in a band became a passion.

In high school, he grew to love acoustic and classical guitar. He spent time playing acoustic music, influenced by The Eagles, CSN, Dan Folgelberg, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, etc. In the 70's, he headed a very popular Cleveland band, The Brennan-Cosma Band, which played a variety of acoustic and rock music, along with originals. He also took up classicalguitar, and began developing his fingerstyle technique.

Mark is a graduate of Cleveland State University (1980), with a Bachelor of Music in Classical guitar performance. He also studied Music Composition, and took many Music Education classes. After graduation, he began his private teaching career, teaching electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, along with music theory. He taught in various studios and guitar shops throughout his career, and currently has a private practice at his home in Fairview Park, Ohio.

In the 80's Mark took an affection to Progressive rock. With his band Polyphony, he was influenced by the music of Yes, Genesis, Kansas, ELP, Styx, along with a set of prog rock originals.

Currently, Mark is in the regionally successful Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here. The band performs faithful renderings of the Floyd classics spanning their entire catalog, along with a strong visual stage show. Here, Mark displays his command of the David Gilmour style.

Mark is excited to be part of's fine roster of teachers. He's looking forward to extending his 35 years of performing and teaching experience to the JamPlay members. His philosophy is about developing a passion for guitar and being the best musician you can be; being true to yourself and developing a personal style, and truly expressing your heart through your music.

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