After teaching a new student how to play a C major scale in open position, the next scales we would tackle would be the minor pentatonics. On guitar, there are five different ways to play each scale, depending on the fingering, key, and position you're in.
To help get you started, you can download my handy worksheet, here:
(If you'd like to share this document with your friends or on your own site or profile, that's cool, but you have to include on that page a link to this blog [http://jaysguitar.blogspot.com]or to my guitar lessons website [http://jaymathes.com/guitarlessons] Thanks!)
The sheet will pretty much walk you through all of the basics of the pentatonic forms. The minor patterns connect to the minor patterns. The major patterns connect to the major patterns. And they both use the same methods for switching from one pattern to the next, as I outline.
There are a couple of other principles you need to keep in mind if you're going to attempt to tackle these scales on your own:
Rule #1: Every finger gets a fret. One finger for each consecutive fret. The exception to this is in pattern 4 on the worksheet, where there is a position shift (changing which frets your fingers are over) between the G and B strings.
Rule #2: Alternate picking. No matter what, each, new note must be played with an opposite pick stroke from the last. Note 1: Down-pick, note 2: up-pick, note 3: down-pick.
Rule #3: For those of you who are really, really new to guitar (and music, in general), the first note of a scale is its root. (Roots are indicated on the worksheet.) From the root, play the pattern all the way to its highest note, then all the way down to its lowest note, then back to the root note.
And finally, just as another clarification, when we say "up" on a guitar, we are referring to pitch. That means that "up" on the guitar is both movement towards the body of the guitar or movement towards the high E string.
Example: Upward motion on open strings: E(low)-A-D-G-B-E(high)