Minor Pentatonic Scale (Guitar Lesson)

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David Wallimann

Minor Pentatonic Scale

David teaches the minor pentatonic scale. He explains its scale formula, various fretboard positions, and how it can be used.

Taught by David Wallimann in Theory and Improvisation with David Wallimann seriesLength: 20:03Difficulty: 2.0 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.

yaffa213yaffa213 replied on June 12th, 2017

This is epic!!! I have learned loads from one lesson! thanks man!

rogerfunkrogerfunk replied on May 3rd, 2016

i think you meant 3 position not 5th

joelextine@gmail.com[email protected] replied on April 10th, 2016

That is a beautiful guitar you are using and you do a great job of explaining the positions, but for online lessons it would be very helpful to use a guitar with position markers.

Yukoner777Yukoner777 replied on December 31st, 2015

Thanks, David. Very clear teaching.

SteveABSteveAB replied on October 31st, 2015

David. Not only can you play but you can teach too! Excellent lesson, not only on the how to, but the why also. Thanks.

419850428@qq.com[email protected] replied on June 4th, 2015

great +1

fizzyfizzy replied on April 27th, 2015


Southern CashSouthern Cash replied on March 4th, 2015

Awesome dude!

rarebird0rarebird0 replied on February 27th, 2015

This whole series is exemplary in it's use of visual aids. I get a lot less from teachers who are just all talking head, or talking head with guitar. The way the illustrations appear makes a big difference.

imonarimonar replied on August 22nd, 2015

Makes me ashamed that I paid well over 400 bucks for a guy to talk to me and understand nothing. JamPlay rules, I will stick to it

MTMalsMTMals replied on January 21st, 2015

I used all 5 of my intro lessons here because I caught one of your lessons on You Tube. Great visuals; clear explanations. You cleared up a lot of confusion. I'll be into JamPlay for quite a while. Thank you!

dankordankor replied on August 12th, 2014

David, what an inspirational and clearly explained lesson. FANTASTIC!!!

lordylordy replied on June 6th, 2014

Excellent lesson!! Clearly explained - his is what I've been waiting for - jamming over the Am backing tracks all over the fretboard is an absolute joy. Cheers David.

conrrichconrrich replied on May 19th, 2014

Hello David, nice to meet you! should I practice with the correct fingering on the notes on position 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th or should use fingering like in position 1 which alouds me to be more in control ?

slash9xslash9x replied on December 6th, 2013

Hi David, do you have any exercise to connect those positions together?

outshinedoutshined replied on September 14th, 2013

Love the Jam Track

deadcrucifixdeadcrucifix replied on May 31st, 2013

Great lesson,as always,but waht about transposing minor pentatonic scales into different keys?

maymayspoppamaymayspoppa replied on February 18th, 2013

Thank you David! You are a pleasure to learn from! Great explanations! I have been working on these scales and when I watched your lesson, it just clicked!

pure joypure joy replied on December 9th, 2012

Great lesson, thanks! Love that there's a backup track to practice.

twebb0716twebb0716 replied on December 19th, 2011

Just to make sure I'm understanding this correctly, each position starts on a different place in the scale. Position 1 starts at the root, position 2 at the minor 3rd, 3 the perfect 4th and so on. So if I wanted to play all 5 positions in the key of B, I assume I would follow that same formula; 1st position on the root, 2nd on the minor 3, 3rd on the perfect 4th and so on. Does this change the actual position or fingering of the shape of the scale itself or do this 5 shapes hold true for all keys? Hopefully that makes sense. Thanks

metalosmetalos replied on October 4th, 2011

Hey David, what's the best fingering for the 3rd position? I can't figure it out. Thanks.

bobnielsenbobnielsen replied on September 3rd, 2011

Well done. Good supplemental material. Good backing tracks. Maybe a few sample licks would be nice.

mcalioglumcalioglu replied on January 5th, 2011

I've got a question. Please David or anyone answer. In this A minor pentotonic scale. Why are we calling the note C the 3rd minor. C is the 3rd note after A. It is A B C. Or There are 3 intervals betwn A and C. But why is C called minor when we play it exactly in its own place not a fret lower or higher. Thanks in advance for the answer.

krazyfngazkrazyfngaz replied on February 17th, 2011

Mcalio....the third note in an a Minor scale is because of the formula. A minor scale is created using the following: W H W W H W W. (W = Whole, H = Half) A W is 2 full intervals, H is 1 interval. So in an A Minor scale, using the above formula, you start with A as the 1st note, go up W which gives you a B natural (a, a#, B) then from the B go up H, which is a C. Hope this helps

jhenriksenjhenriksen replied on February 3rd, 2011

I have the same question since I do not understand the explanation. The third note in the A Minor pentatonic scale is a minor note, or flat. That what was previously taught. C is the third note in the A Minor pentatonic Scale. Why then is it not played as a Cb? What makes that 3rd note (the C) a minor 3rd?

jessjammerjessjammer replied on January 25th, 2011

The intervals discussed here are all measured from the reference note (AKA" the Root) to the next note without stopping at all the notes in between. The reference note, when discussing scales, is the one that gives the scale its name or key (i.e., "A minor pentatonic" is a scale Rooted on the "A" note (the reference note) - minor and pentatonic give you more information about the scale). So, when speaking of a minor 3rd, you're referencing the root (A, in this case) and the third note in this scale, which is a minor 3rd (a half-step lower than "Mi/Me" in the Major "Do-Re/Ray-Mi/Me" [AKA: Diatonic]) in the A minor pentatonic scale. I hope that helps. Best of luck to you. David does a great job. I think if you review his earlier lessons in this set a couple times, the relationships will become more clear.

teppe498teppe498 replied on July 12th, 2011

He does a geat job indeed!

ryanshannon15ryanshannon15 replied on April 6th, 2011

after playing 9 years and not knowing a "lick" of theory, (pun intended), you are making this extremely easy and understandable. the concept of positions alone is broadening my abilities beyond belief. thank you.

rcausrcaus replied on March 19th, 2011

Hi David, Can you also teach us the five positions for key of E as this is critical for blues. Else is it correct to say that I simply have to replace note C ( per key of A) with note B and use the same positions you shown us for key of A for these positions when playing in key of E. Regards Rama

rcausrcaus replied on March 18th, 2011

Dear David. Very well explained and I can play most of these positions . However, with the backing track I feel that sometimes I am out of beat and that a big mistake. Is it possible for you to make a simple track going only in key of A throughout whilst keeping it at a medium tempo. And more importantly playing say 4 notes on the beat and shows us how we can then add more notes whilst staying on the beat. It's probably easier to give this example using the first position. In the meantime, I will keep praticising with the track Thank you very much. Rama

rcausrcaus replied on March 19th, 2011

David, I am getting there. I believe the trick is to play 2 notes per each bar and sustain ( 4 beats each for e.g) and gradually expand.

chi13chi13 replied on January 27th, 2011

I'm really not sure how to play with the backing track. Do I pick any position and just start practicing my scale at any speed?

jboothjbooth replied on January 27th, 2011

That's totally up to you, the idea behind playing with a backing track is to begin to develop the ability to play melodies over tracks, and figure out what sounds good. If you want some practice first, just play the scale up and down through the track a couple of times, in time at whatever speed you can play. once you have a feel for how the scale sounds over the track, then just start playing! Find things that sound good and experiment.

guitardriverguitardriver replied on January 2nd, 2011

If one goes to the tools tab and selects scale libarary and selects minor pentatonic scale. There jamplay charts the minor pentatonic scale on the guitar neck in 5 different patterns in 5 different locations on the guitar neck. There it show the pattern you demonstrate in this lesson between the 12th and the 9th fret between the 5th and the 8th fret. Are there different convetions or schools of thought for this?

slash9xslash9x replied on December 6th, 2013

Scales are movable. As long as they're in the same shape, it doesn't matter what fret you are playing.

nash24nash24 replied on January 2nd, 2011

Thanks for these lessons. Learning songs is fun, but getting this knowledge is what I've been looking for.

restrummerrestrummer replied on August 18th, 2010

Dave - Is the root location, in general, going to determine which root position you would use

susansusan replied on August 4th, 2010

Hi David, very well explained. Please clarify something for me. Two different guitar teachers decided to show me Em pentatonic using open strings and first 4 frets - they both indicated that one could do leads against the G Major scale with this because Em was the relative minor for the G key (beginning guitar lessons) - having said that, I used Em pentatonic behind Boulevard of Broken Dreams in Key of G (capo2) - you mention that we should make sure we are playing minor pentatonic behind minor keys, which seems at odds with what these 2instructors taught me. Am I missing something here, or is it not a steadfast rule. My understanding was relative minor pentatonic was okay behind major scale. Now, I'm not so sure. Your insight would be appreciated.

restrummerrestrummer replied on August 3rd, 2010

Dave - would you have the minor pentatonic scale in a format similar to the major pentatonic scale; where all positions are shown on one page.

xingyu92xingyu92 replied on July 8th, 2010

hey, just wanted to ask, any tips on which finger to place on the frets for the scales? for example use the ring finger or pinky on certain frets?

larazarlarazar replied on April 28th, 2010

David, this backing track is so cool, it made Am pentatonic patterns practicing so much fun. It made me actually want to practice them and I even started improvising a little. I wish there were more tracks like this one on Jamplay for different keys. Can you suggest where I can find them? Thanks.

thesnowdogthesnowdog replied on June 16th, 2010

Did you miss these? http://www.jamplay.com/members/guitar/tools/backing-tracks/

toledo12toledo12 replied on May 13th, 2010


kitarakitara replied on April 23rd, 2010

David, this was something I've been looking for, a piece of theory that was missing for me, and you have provided it "nice and simple". Thanks.

NicaNica replied on April 18th, 2010

Thank you Dave for opening up a new world of possibilities using the minor pentatonic scales. As a beginner ive been extremely frustrated with my "sound" as I develop the finger strength to play barre chords. Just practicing these scales and their iterations along with the backtrack make it fun for me again. Ive only got 1st position down so far but cant wait to learn the rest and move on to major and blues scales.

vlivecchvlivecch replied on April 18th, 2010

I agree with the others... Great lesson! Thanks...

David.WallimannDavid.Wallimann replied on April 16th, 2010

Thanks! :-)

ry_naylorry_naylor replied on April 16th, 2010

Nice lesson David, and I really like the backing track.

tamartintamartin replied on April 16th, 2010

These two lessons, together, have been fantastic. I know it will take me awhile to really get all five positions under my fingers. But I now understand what they are, and even better, why they are. Thanks. Youv'e been a great help.

gorbaggorbag replied on April 15th, 2010

totally awesome lesson. It put together many things I glossed over in the beginning, and now years later I can appreciate the simplicity!

Theory and Improvisation with David Wallimann

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

David Wallimann will cover all of the topics necessary master the art of improvisation. He will cover theory, including intervals, scales and modes as well as techniques to improve ones improvisation.

Lesson 1

Understanding Intervals

Before one can truly understand music theory the concept of intervals must be introduced. This lesson covers that topic in great depth.

Length: 27:40 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 2

Minor Pentatonic Scale

David teaches the minor pentatonic scale. He explains its scale formula, various fretboard positions, and how it can be used.

Length: 20:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Major Pentatonic Scale

David Wallimann moves on to cover the the major pentatonic scale. He teaches its scale formula, all five patterns, and gives advice on how the scale can be used.

Length: 9:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

The Blues Scale

In this lesson, David covers both the minor and major blues scales. He explains the formulas and patterns for each scale. In addition, David has included a backing track for you to play along with.

Length: 9:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Minor Modes

David Wallimann introduces three minor modes. In this lesson he covers Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian modes.

Length: 11:37 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Major Modes

David Wallimann covers three major modes in this lesson. He covers the Ionian, Lydian and Mixolydian modes.

Length: 8:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

The Locrian Mode

David Wallimann introduces the Locrian mode. He explains its formula in terms of scale degrees as well as its five fretboard patterns. A few fun arpeggio-based ideas are also demonstrated.

Length: 20:37 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

The Magic Formula

David Wallimann teaches a magic formula that will allow you to play each of the modes up and down the entire fretboard. He also teaches some exercises to help cement this knowledge.

Length: 11:49 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Classifying Modes

David Wallimann talks about how modes can be classified and thus used in a musical context. This is a valuable wrap-up lesson to the mini-series on modes.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Creating Chord Progressions

David Wallimann explains how to write diatonic chord progressions. This lesson features excellent practical music theory.

Length: 12:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Easy Outside Tricks

David Wallimann teaches a valuable fusion guitar technique that he calls "Easy Outside Tricks."

Length: 8:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Playing Modal with Pentatonic Scales

David Wallimann demonstrates how minor pentatonic scales can be used when improvising over the minor modes.

Length: 22:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Playing Modal with Major Pentatonic Scales

David Wallimann shows how the major pentatonic scale can be used in modal playing.

Length: 11:13 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About David Wallimann View Full Biography David was born in Aix-en-Provence, South France in 1977. At the age of 15, he picked up the guitar and started developing a true love for instrumental music and composition.

In 1999 he was recognized by Ibanez for his promising musical achievements and received an artist endorsement. That early recognition in David's musical career encouraged him to consecrate more time on crafting his musical art and apply to the school of modern music Artist' in Cavaillon, France. He received a full scholarship there where he graduated with honors.

In 2001, David won first place for the Tal Farlow French national jazz contest which gave him a full paid scholarship to the CMA school of modern music in Valenciennes, France. He graduated specializing in advance guitar with honors.

Following his school years, David spent the next 5 years working with several bands recording, writing and playing shows in France and Belgium. It's during that time that Wallimann was exposed to the world of progressive rock which opened new doors to his musical creativity.

Deep inside the Mind is his first release as a solo artist in which he exposes his Christian faith. The album was well received in the specialized press and was compared several times to some of Frank Zappa's approach to music adding an element of humor to deep subjects.

In 2005 he joined the internationally renown progressive band Glass Hammer based in Chattanooga, TN. He released several studio albums and live DVDs with the band.

David is today working on his next upcoming solo release and is also spending quite a bit of time teaching guitar in his studio and online at JamPlay.

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