Level Up Your Pentatonic Improvisation
2 Strings Pentatonic shapes
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 interesting ways to visualize our minor pentatonic scale shapes to break out of the box shapes and improvise on different areas of the guitar fretboard.
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 key.
The goal today is to shred all over the neck, without thinking, by playing on 2 strings, 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 all 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)
Timestamp @0:41 (inside the video lesson)
These pentatonic positions are great tools especially when starting out! They offer a quick and easy way for beginners to start improvising.
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 miss out on a lot of creative freedom by not utilizing the full length of the fretboard.
Let's begin by focusing on just two strings, specifically the highest two strings: the high E string and the B string.
Instead of disregarding the positions we already know, we can use them as a foundation to develop a new system, by using the first two (2) strings of every single shape.
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 position.
-Memorizing the shape itself.
Either way, you need to know where your root note is as it is giving away the next shape.
Now that you got used to these shapes, we are going to play those pentatonic shapes on another pair of strings.
Timestamp @1:25 (inside the video lesson)
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 get the same sequence of shapes one after the other)
Check the video lesson @5:26 for a visual demonstration and a more comprehensive tutorial.
Disclaimer: When playing these pentatonic shapes on the G and B strings, don't forget to move the notes that are on the B string one fret up to make up for the difference in tuning.
Now you need to get really familiar with shapes so take the time to practice them before moving on to the next section where I'm about to show you how we can use them to improvise over a backing track.
Improvising using the 2 strings pentatonic shapes
Check the video lesson at @7:08 for a visual demonstration and a more comprehensive tutorial.
Now I used the E and the B string. Also, instead of playing it as is, I used single notes.
Timestamp @7:46 of the video lesson.
Now you can use these concepts to create your own lick and apply them over this backing track in A.
Final Word - 2 Strings Pentatonic