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Funky Friday – A minor pentatonic lick – shape 1

Let’s put our A minor pentatonic shape into action. Once you are comfortable with the scale, you can try to use it in an improvisation. In this lesson, we will play a very simple lick based on the A minor pentatonic scale shape 1. Pay attention to your finger choices, for example, you don’t want to use your second finger on the 8th fret, first string – this is the space for our 4th finger.

You can practice this lick at a slower pace, just to get used to it. If you are a beginner, you may struggle playing it at full speed at first. Spend some time practicing it without a backing track, remember – pay attention to the quality of your notes. Apply it to different A minor backing tracks and you will be surprised how different it will “feel”.

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A minor pentatonic scale – shape 1

The pentatonic scale is very popular amongst guitarists, especially the first shape. The position of it makes both the lower and higher notes on the fretboard easily accessible. 

This particular shape is called the A minor pentatonic scale shape 1 (there are 5 different shapes). The name of the scale (A) comes from the fact that the very first note of this scale is A (the 5th fret on the 6th string is A). The minor part of the name is related to the sound this shape creates.

So basically the A minor pentatonic scale shape 1 means that we are starting this scale from the note A and it is going to sound like a minor scale. The great thing about the pentatonic scales is that they always have two notes on each string – which makes it easy to memorise (especially shape no.1).

A minor pentatonic scales shape 1

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Example 6 – Easy guitar licks – A major pentatonic scale lick

Here is another simple guitar lick. It is an A major pentatonic based lick. To be more specific we are going to use the 5th shape of the A major pentatonic scale.

Each major scale has one relative minor scale. In this case, the 5th shape of the A major pentatonic scale is the same as the first shape of the F# minor pentatonic scale.


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Example 5 – Easy guitar licks – B blues scale lick

This guitar lick is again in the key of B minor. This time we are going to use B blues scale.  Pay attention to your finger choices!

Remember that these licks work in any key. Try to transcribe it to different keys. Don’t forget to apply everything you’ve learned to your soloing technique. That way you will expand your improvisation skills.


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Example 4 – Easy guitar licks – B minor lick

This lick is in the key of B minor. We will use a Bossa Nova inspired track to get a little bit more of a melodic feel.

We are going to use the 2nd shape of the B minor pentatonic scale (technically speaking it will be the B natural minor scale – but I like to think about it as a pentatonic scale with an added 2nd – this way of thinking simplifies the scale layout).
Watch the video for the full explanation.



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Example 3 – Easy guitar licks – A minor pentatonic lick

This guitar lick is a little bit more complex in comparison to the previous two we did. We are still in the A minor key. I have used the exact same backing track to give you a chance to integrate all the previous licks together.

Try to mix them, change the speed of your licks to achieve a different feel. Also try to use them with different backing tracks. You will be amazed how different backing tracks change the sound of these licks. Don’t be afraid to experiment, at the end of the day this is your solo!



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Example 2 – Easy guitar licks – A minor pentatonic lick

A minor pentatonic-based lick. We are staying in the first shape of the A minor pentatonic scale. In this example, I start by sliding to the 7th fret of the 5th string. It is kind of an undefined slide – you can start sliding from the 5th fret, the 2nd fret or any other fret. Practice different variations to get different ‘flavours’.

One thing that is worth mentioning here is that the last note in this lick is A – the 7th fret on the 4th string. Finishing the lick on this note over the A minor chord will give you nice ‘rested’ feel.


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Example 1 – Easy guitar licks – A minor pentatonic lick

This lick is in the key of A minor. We are going to use shape number 1 and 2 of the A minor pentatonic scale.

One of the ways to connect two pentatonic shapes is by sliding between them.  Finger choices are very important – in this example, I slide with my second finger. Watch the video for a full explanation.


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