The Fourth String and E Minor Pentatonic

The Fourth String

Here are the first position notes on the fourth string, D.

D on the fourth string

D on fourth string

E on the fourth string

E on fourth string

F on the fourth string

F on fourth string

The minor pentatonic scale

Now you have learnt the first position notes on the top four strings, you can take a first look at a really useful scale, the Minor Pentatonic. This scale is great for making up riffs, improvising over minor and major keys and playing simple blues licks.

Minor Pentatonic Scale

Try out this pattern using the E minor pentatonic scale.

Minor Pentatonic Tune - 1

There are many well known songs which have made use of the minor pentatonic. Here are just some of them:

  • Layla - Derek and the Dominoes
  • Shakin' all over - Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
  • Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

Introducing quavers

A note which lasts half as long as a crotchet is called a quaver.


When there is more than one quaver in a row they are usually tied together with a single bar as show in the following diagram. When reading a piece with quavers, count as shown on the diagram.


Here is another E minor pentatonic pattern using quavers

Minor Pentatonic Tune - 2

Two chords which work well with E minor pentatonic are E minor and D major: The E minor chord is an extension of the three string chord you played earlier.

E minor chord

D major chord

Changing chords with simple strumming

Now you have learnt a couple of chords it's time to practise changing between them. In the exercise below, you will strum E minor four times then D major four times and keep repeating the pattern. At first you'll probably find it hard to change between the chords and keep the rhythm going. Start really slowly, at a pace where you change from E minor to D major and back again without breaking the rhythm. The metronome is a great tool for this. When you find a slow enough speed, you can very gradually speed it up.

Start with just down strokes. The symbol below the beginning of the tab means to play a down stroke, and the dotted line after it means carry on with the same stroke.

E minor to D major

Now try changing between the same chords with down and up strokes. You can see the notation for playing down and up strokes below the tab.

E minor to D major up and down strokes