Level Up Your Pentatonic Improvisation

Level Up Your Pentatonic Improvisation 

2 Strings Pentatonic shapes

Another lesson on the pentatonic scale? Hell yeah!

In this lesson, I'm going to show you what I believe are the next steps to take in case you feel that you have already mastered the pentatonic scale.

Today we are going to learn some interesting shapes related to the pentatonic scale.
For this lesson we are using the pentatonic minor and the examples are going to be in A minor but as always, those lessons and examples can be transposed to any other minor pentatonic key.

The point and goal of our lesson today is to shred all over the neck, without thinking, by playing on 2 strings. In addition, this will help you connect ideas from an area of the fretboard to another area of the fretboard.
How about that for sounding cool and impressing people around you with your guitar playing?! 😊.
But first, a quick recap about pentatonic shapes so we are on the same page:

The 5 Shapes of the Minor Pentatonic Scale

Minor Pentatonic Scale Position 1.
Starting on the first note of the scale.
Minor Pentatonic Scale Position 2.
Starting on the second note of the scale (the C).
Minor Pentatonic Scale Position 3.
Starting on the third note of the scale (the D)
Minor Pentatonic Scale Position 4.
Starting on the fourth note of the scale (the E)
Minor Pentatonic Scale Position 5.
Starting on the fourth note of the scale (the G)
These positions are great tools and, they cover all the notes on the fretboard that form the pentatonic scale of a specific key. But when I see them, I cannot but feel like I'm stuck in a tunnel and cannot see anything else around me. I'm stuck with what's in front of me.

We are losing a lot by not using the length of the fretboard!
To start, we are going to pick only two (2) strings (I'm going to pick the highest 2 strings, In other words, the high e string and the B string). We are not going to throw away the position that we already know, in fact, we are going to use them to come up with a new system, by using the first two (2) strings of every single shape:
Timestamp @ 2:47 (inside the video lesson)
For the Tab and Diagrams, sign up at the bottom of the page and search for the lesson once you get in.

2 Strings Pentatonic Shapes

It is very important to for us not only to be able to take the first 2 strings of every position but also to know where the root note resides. It's going to help us memorize those new shapes better. Let's take our first position.
2 strings Pentatonic  position 1:
As you can see our root note is on the index but is on the highest string of this pair of strings.
2 strings Pentatonic position 2:
For position number 2, the root note is on the third finger (the ring finger), and is on the lowest string of the pair.
2 strings Pentatonic position 3:
For position number 3, the root note is under the index finger and is located over the B string.
2 strings Pentatonic position 4:
Notice how the shape on position number 3 is opening up and on position 4 it is closing down (despite not having a root note in this shape which is not a problem) and forms this block from the combination of the 2 shapes:
Last but not least, we have position number 5. The A note (the root note) is on the 3rd finger or (the ring finger) and on the high e string.
And if we keep going, we get to exactly where we started with position 1.
You can memorize these shapes based on the root note location or by memorizing the shape itself. Either way, you need to know where your root note is as it is giving away the next shape.
After Practicing these shapes and now that you got used to it, we are going to take this and apply it to the other strings.

2 Strings Pentatonic - Example on the A and D strings (strings 5 and 4)

Let's start playing the pentatonic position 1 (regular box shape). In this position, you get your A note on the higher string of the pair (String 4 and String 5). This is basically shape # 5 from our previous example (the high e string and b strings).
We repeat the same process of going up (or down) the fretboard on this pair of strings (we are going to get the same shapes that are repeating)
Check the video lesson @ 6:50 or a visual demonstration and a more comprehensive tutorial.

A small tip: when moving shapes on the G and B strings, don't forget to move the notes that are on the B string one fret up.
Get those shapes down your fingers and let's talk next about how we can use them in real life:

Improvising using the 2 strings pentatonic shapes

Example 1

Check the video lesson at @8:36 for a visual demonstration and a more comprehensive tutorial.
Example 2
Timestamp @9:18
Now I used the E and the B string. Also, instead of playing it as is, I used single notes.
Now you can use these concepts to create your own lick and apply them over this backing track in A https://youtu.be/zMa2qI97QUQ

Final Word - 2 Strings Pentatonic 

So, my friends, in summary. The goal of our training is to be able to shred all over the neck spontaneously while using the pentatonic scale on two(2) strings. What we have to do, is to memorize the two (2) strings shapes, as we stated before, which will help us to transition swiftly between the various positions. We can also spice things up by using slides or any other techniques. Keep practicing them, and you will be able to come up with creative ideas across the guitar fretboard.
I hope you enjoyed this lesson and that it helped you elevate your guitar playing!

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Author: Jack Haddad
Jack Haddad is an expert Guitar educator and teacher and has been helping guitarists, through his innovative methods, get incredible results on the guitar, whether they want to jam with friends or rock out on the big stage.

You can find out more about Jack Haddad's teaching here: https://www.jhguitarschool.com
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