Bust Out of Your Playing Rut with 5 Pentatonic Shapes

Bust Out of Your Playing Rut with 5 Pentatonic Shapes

The pentatonic scale is the core of many guitar players’ understanding of improvisation – it’s the backbone of their vocabulary when playing blues, rock, funk, etc. However, most guitarists only take advantage of one or two moveable pentatonic shapes. By taking advantage of all five, a player can freshen up their licks and add color to their guitar playing.

In David Wallimann’s Guitar DNA: Pentatonics, his new TrueFire course, he’ll show you how to get out of using just a couple moveable shapes, and break down how to play all five while staying in the same position. In these free pentatonic guitar lessons from the course, you’ll get a taste of how to integrate these shapes, as well as learn how to add in chromatic notes to the pentatonic scale and build your own custom versions of it. Let’s get started:

Getting Comfortable in the Positions

Download the notation, and jam track for this lesson on TrueFire.

Let’s combine all 5 positions of the minor pentatonic scale in this study that is tabbed out for you. Make sure you practice over the provided backing track. Have fun with this lesson!

Chromatic Notes in Position

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In this free guitar lesson, we’ll ascend each minor pentatonic scale position and descend the filled in positions. As you go through each position, make sure you are always aware of where the root is!

Narrow Modulation Zones

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In this guitar lesson, we’ll discuss the difference between “jumpy” and “focused” improvisations and why the later might be a better choice. Make sure you understand this concept before moving to the next segment!

Mixolydian Jamming

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Let’s jam over an A Mixolydian backing track:

A Major pentatonic (Mixolydian)
D Major pentatonic (Ionian)
G Major pentatonic (Lydian)

Custom Dorian Pentatonic – Demonstration

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Let’s build a custom Dorian pentatonic scale! Although there’s more than one possible custom Dorian pentatonic scale, we’ll use the following formula which respects the rules described in the previous section: 1-b3-4-5-6.

Custom Dorian Pentatonic – Performance

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This tabbed improvisation is built using the custom Dorian pentatonic scale we built in the last section. Memorize your favorite licks and experiment!

Major Sweetness – Overview

This guitar lesson study is in A Ionian. The chord progression is A, D, E and A.

Major Sweetness – Performance

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this lesson on TrueFire.

Study this A Ionian improvisation at your own pace and make sure to apply anything you discover in your own playing.


Make sure to check out the rest of the course on TrueFire. There’s plenty more to be had in the full version of the course, with all guitar lessons tabbed and notated, including jam tracks to play along with on your own. Take advantage of the pentatonic scale now!