Welcome to Part 4 of Guitar Goblin’s five-part series, “Learning the Minor Pentatonic Scale.” In Parts 1 through 3, we have explored the first three forms of the scale, learned some of the theories that underpin the scale, and practiced a handful of different patterns and concepts with the notes.
Now in Part 4, we will take things a step further and explore the Fourth Form of the minor pentatonic scale. In my opinion, this is one of the more useful patterns out of the five. (Not so fast, they’re all useful – learn all five!)
Everyone’s go-to scale is usually Form 1 of the Minor Pentatonic. Especially in the beginning. Well, this is very similar, which you’re about to see.
Introducing The Fourth Form
The Fourth Form, or Position 4, of the minor pentatonic begins from the fourth tone of the scale. Remember that the E minor pentatonic scale is spelled E – G – A – B – D – E. This means that the fourth tone of the scale is B and so the Fourth Form will start from B on the 7th fret of the low E string.
So, position 4 (Form 4) would be played like this from B to B:
Practicing the Fourth Form
Now, let’s explore some different ways we can practice the Fourth Form of the minor pentatonic scale!
- Playing each Form across different areas of the fretboard will help you grasp the shape independently of whatever key you’re in.
- Developing new practice paterns will become like finger exercises, which you’ll actually start drawing from later in your playing. Right now, you’re basically developing new neural patterns in your brain and muscle memory (“wax on, wax off“).
- Finally, you’ll continue linking all the Forms you’ve learned (at this point, hopefully Forms 1-4) together accross the fretboard. This will, eventually, allow you to be able to jump from one end of the neck to the other while staying in the same key and playing style.
1. Playing it Around the Fretboard
Like we have done with the previous three forms of the minor pentatonic scale, the first thing you should do is practice the form from every possible starting note.
The root note in this shape is the 3rd note in the scale. For our example above, which is in E Minor, E is the third note of the scale. We find it on the seventh fret of the A string. When you move the scale around the fretboard, also try to name each of the root notes.
For example, if you begin the form from the third fret of the low E string, the note on the 3rd fret of the A string will be the root. Can you name both the root note and the starting note?
As you can see in the diagram, the root is C and the starting note is G.
If you begin the scale from the tenth fret of the low E string, the note on the tenth fret of the A string will be the root. Can you name both the root note and the starting note?
In this diagram, you can see that the root is G and the starting note is D. Hopefully you are taking the time to learn the names of the notes as we move along and not exclusively looking at the tab! 🙂
2. A New Practice Pattern
In each part of Guitar Goblin’s five-part series on the minor pentatonic scale, we will explore a new practice pattern. By the end of the course, you will have five practice patterns that you can use through each of the five forms. This means you will have 25 different exercises! That is enough to get you started on the path towards pentatonic mastery!
Check out this new practice pattern below:
This pattern is a variation on the sequence idea that we explored with the first and second forms. This time, we ascend and descend through two strings of the scale.
3. Link It Up
Now, you should spend some time linking the first four forms of the scale together. If you need a quick refresher, check out the first four forms below:
Hopefully, you starting to see the visual connection between the different forms. Each subsequent form starts from the second note of the previous form.
Try linking the forms together with this three note per string pattern:
You could also create this pattern from the A string:
And from the D string:
All of these new patterns might feel like a lot to absorb. It will take time for your fingers, mind, and ears to build these connections. Be patient with yourself and let your creativity and imagination guide your way.
The Final Word
In Part 4 of Guitar Goblin’s Five-part Series on the minor pentatonic scale, we explored the Forth Form of the scale, learned how to build the scale, investigated some larger-frame concepts around the shapes of pentatonic scales, and learned some practice patterns we can use to increase our skills on the fretboard.
Take your time with all of these concepts and don’t expect them to click overnight. Your skills with the minor pentatonic scale will progress and mature over time based on your own learning curve. In Part 5, we will dive into the fifth and final form of the minor pentatonic scale. Until then, happy practicing!