Guitar Lessons for Beginners the E Minor Pentatonic Scale

This guitar lesson is good for beginners since it helps you get used to using open strings and being aware of how they are played an octave higher on the guitar barred at the 12th fret. Using the em pentatonic scale as an example works well since the notes are all the same, yet since the notes on the guitar start all over again at the twelfth fret it can be a little awkward and confusing when you are first learning how to play the guitar.

This is especially true of lead guitar playing so we are using the e minor pentatonic scale in two positions (open and 12th) in this lesson.

As you might already know, the first octave of the guitar is made up of all the notes from the open strings to the eleventh fret.

Then all of the notes, shapes and patterns that you can play on the guitar will repeat identically beginning at the twelfth fret. This is the second octave of the instrument.

The word “pentatonic” means that there are actually five notes that make up the scale. The notes of the em pentatonic scale are comprised of: E, G, A, B and D. In the “open position” these notes will be played as the following chart will illustrate.

E Minor Pentatonic Scale Open Position

  • E – Open E string (sixth string, the biggest)
  • G – Sixth string, third fret
  • A – Open A string (fifth string)
  • B – Fifth string, second fret
  • D – Open D string (fourth string)
  • E – Fourth string, second fret

This completes the first octave (E to E) of the scale in this position. Since this is a guitar lesson for beginners though, we will take it up a bit further so that you can become familiar with playing guitar licks using the em pentatonic scale in the open position.

Continuing from where we left off at:

  • G – Open G string (third string)
  • A – Third string, second fret
  • B – Open B string (second string)
  • D – Second string, third fret
  • E – Open E string (first string, the smallest)
  • G – First string, third fret

Next we will play this scale in the twelfth position. It is important to remember that all of the “notes” remain the same, but the pattern will involve actually fretting the notes in the twelfth position on the guitar neck in place of the open strings used in the previous open position example of playing the em pentatonic scale.

E Minor Pentatonic Scale Twelfth Position

  • E – Sixth string, twelfth fret
  • G – Sixth string, fifteenth fret
  • A – Fifth string, twelfth fret
  • B – Fifth string, fourteenth fret
  • D – Fourth string, twelfth fret
  • E – Fourth string, fourteenth fret

This ends the first octave of the scale in this position but we again will continue upward so that you can learn how the entire pattern is most commonly used when playing lead guitar licks and patterns.

  • G – Third string, twelfth fret
  • A – Third string, fourteenth fret
  • B – Second string, twelfth fret
  • D – Second string, fifteenth fret
  • E – First string, twelfth fret
  • G – First string, fifteenth fret

In the beginning the best way to practice these scale positions on the guitar is to play them from low to high and from high to low. In the video for this free guitar lesson you will see how simple this can be to learn how to play. We also provide an example demonstration of how this scale can be used to construct a simple guitar solo in the matching key of E minor and how to apply it in an actual musical context. This guitar lesson will show you how to play the guitar solo in the demonstration. It offers some intermediate techniques as well.