Welcome to the essentials course part one! During these first 5 lessons of the intermediate lead course, we will be covering a lot of ground to make sure you are up to speed for intermediate guitar playing! We will be looking at the 5 shapes of the pentatonic scale and how to move them into various different keys. Some of this you may already know, other parts will be new, but by completing this course you will be definitely ready to tackle the tricker lessons that are coming next!

Summary: Pentatonic shape 1 - 3

To kick off our intermediate course, we need to learn all of our pentatonic shapes, and we will begin with the first 3 shapes which are pictured below. We will learn them in the key of A minor to start with. Here are the three shapes:

Materials: Pentatonic shape 1 - 3 tab

If you want to be sure you are playing exactly the correct notes, please use the tab by clicking the link below.

Summary: Pentatonic shape 4 - 5

Let’s now add shape 4 and 5 to our collection. Once again, we are learning them in the key of A minor. Be sure to visualise the shapes rather than specific frets. After shape 5, the shapes just start all over again with shape 1. You will often see players jump from shape 1 at the low part of the neck to shape 1 twelve frets up where it starts all over again!

Materials: Pentatonic shape 4 - 5 tab

If you want to be sure you are playing exactly the correct notes, please use the tab by clicking the link below.

Summary: 5 shape pentatonic exercise

To put our 5 shapes into practice, we will use this fun exercise! Remember to visualise the shapes as you go through the exercise and try to keep up with the beat. By playing along with the beat, you will learn the shapes more quickly and more completely. Here are the 5 shapes together:

Materials: 5 shape pentatonic exercise tab

Here is the tab for the entire exercise. The tab program allows you to slow down the speed, so take full advantage of that when you are learning the exercise and gradually speed it up until you are at full speed or above!

Audio: Backing Track

Here is the exercise backing track and full audio file. In this mp3, the exercise loops around 5 times so you can practice it over and over again without stopping! This is at full speed, so be sure to put the practice in before you attempt this.

Summary: The 'Airports' theory!

The idea behind ‘airports’ on the fretboard is to give you a easy way to quickly find certain pentatonic shapes without having to necessarily move through them in order. There are times where you may want to kick your solo off in shape 4, for example, and this technique will help you do that! We learn this by attributing certain shapes to certain root notes. Here is the process described in the video:

  • 1. Find the Root notes (in this case we find G on the E and A string)
  • 2. Decide if we are in a major or minor key
  • 3. In Minor, we hook up shape 1 to the E string root note and shape 4 to the A string root note.
  • 4. In Major, we hook up shape 2 to the E string root note and shape 5 to the A string root note.

Have a look at the digram below to see these steps a little more clearly:

Summary: Improvising test

This video is all about putting the 'airports' theory into practice in various different keys over different backing tracks. To help you out, we have provided you with 5 backing tracks in different keys as well as the correct airports pentatonic shapes via our fretboard diagram. Here are the backing tracks:

Ready to move on? Remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

Essentials Part 2

We will be learning cool new techniques, applying them to a Zeppelin inspired rock riff and even learning linking patterns which will allow you to solo all the way across the neck! There is a lot of information to cover in this course, so take your time.