These Five Licks Will Help You Memorize All the Pentatonic Positions

(Image credit: Melville Crump)

Guitarists are creatures of habit, like everyone else. And that can be a problem when it comes to playing our instrument, particularly when performing lead guitar work.

For instance, many guitarists find they have difficulty moving beyond first position, because it’s comfortable to them and because they aren’t familiar with the other positions.

To remedy that, David Wallimann has come up with five pentatonic licks that can help you memorize all the pentatonic positions along the fretboard.

“The thing with music is those comfortable spots—like that bend you might do on the third string in the first position—is always gonna result in that particular interval being bent, and intervals in music are everything,” David explains.

“So if you can find those comfort zones in other positions, they’re gonna trigger other intervals. Therefore they’re gonna trigger other types of emotions in the listener and influence you to play a little bit differently—still in the same key but a little differently.”

For this lesson, David created five licks in a G minor pentatonic context using the five positions.

“I tried to create these licks to really emphasize those comfort zones in each of these positions,” he explains. “Learn these licks one by one, understand how they fit the particular position that they’re in, and then make your own, exploring other concepts, extracting from these licks some ideas that you like, and just experiment.”

David has even provided the TAB and backing track, which you can get here.

Check out the lesson, and be sure to visit David’s YouTube channel for more of his videos.

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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.