Jazz Guitar Pentatonics – Part 2 – Five Positions for Pentatonic Scales

Welcome to Part 2. In this very short post, we will look at our two usual suspect (the Am and D7 jazz guitar pentatonics scales from Part 1) in five different positions on the fretboard.

Don’t be intimidated by the amount of materials here. The beauty of the pentatonic scales (for guitarist) is this: we only have two notes per string! What a beauty. Watch video above. Enjoy! 🙂

On the Fretboard in Five Positions

There exist five really practical positions for playing pentatonics on the guitar fretboard. The thing is, this scale organizes itself in “2 notes per string” patterns everywhere on the fingerboard. Easy breezy.

The way I personally discovered the five positions for myself is through the 7 major scale positions “boxes” I was already familiar with. I simply figured out that 2 of those where not practical enough (and I also had to adjust fingerings for the others.)

I highly recommend this article series on position playing …  Read on about the 7 major scale positions, leave it open in another window and come back here!

If you read and understood part II and III of the positions article, you got the “string – finger” system down. Here’s where the pentatonics fall on the guitar neck:

  • 6-4
  • 6-2
  • 6-1 (in fact = 4-2)
  • 5-4
  • 5-2

From those “string – finger” positions, you can apply pentatonic scales on the whole fretboard simply by removing two notes from the according major scale. (Remember, major pentatonic = 1 2 3 5 6 and minor pentatonic = 1 b3 4 5 b7). So if you know you entire seven positions of the C major scale (as discussed in the article series shown above), you already have everything you need to play the A minor pentatonic on the entire fretboard. 🙂

And YES, as I said about: we do not have to use the complete seven positions here. We omit two of them. Five positions suffice. You can related this to the CAGED system if you are familiar with it. (I am not, unfortunately.)

Just in case this is all Chinese for you, here’s a complete PDF with the 5 jazz guitar pentatonics positionswritten out in Am (standard notation + TABS). Contains the notes A C D E G … If you can, at least, play through that, you have 80% of the work done.

If you want to kill two birds with one stone, you may learn the related dominant 7th pentatonic of D7 (aka Am6 pentatonic). Simply by lowering all the “G” notes to “F#”. So, D7 pentatonic contains the notes A C D E F# … It is highly recommended you learn the D7 pentatonic at the same time as Am pentatonic. You will find yourself using a lot of the dominant 7th pentatonic in applications (parts 4 and 5 of this series).

The PDF once again:

PDF – Five Pentatonic Positions – A minor Pentatonic

That’s it for today! You mission (shall you accept it) is to learn the darn thing. Practice it lots and lots, until it becomes part of you, in all five positions.

Jazz Guitar Pentatonics Wrap up

Although playing the five positions up and down (as in the PDF above) is good way to memorize the concept, it would be better to spice things up a little bit. And it is exactly what we will be doing in the next instalment. We’ll go further by practicing some interesting patterns …

Click here to go to Pentatonics Part 3 …

7 thoughts on “Jazz Guitar Pentatonics – Part 2 – Five Positions for Pentatonic Scales

  1. Mark,
    I am confused about the D7 pentatonic. The f# appears to be the major third of D, using the same notes of A- there is a C , which is a flat 7 which would be in a minor pentatonic, I would of expected the sixth(b) of D for major?

    • I’m not sure I understand your question. But here’s the deal: A minor pentatonic: A C D E G. D7 pentatonic: D E F# A C. These two are the same, except for the F#/G. Thanks! 🙂

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