A common scale taught and used for lead guitar is the minor pentatonic scale. Like the major pentatonic scale it uses 5 notes. The natural minor scale for the key of Em would be notes E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-E. The minor pentatonic scale takes five of those notes, E-G-A-B-D, or numbers 1-3-4-5-7 of the natural minor scale.

Am & Em Pentatonic Scales on E string

Practice each of these scales ascending, then descending. Then move them up to various positions on the fretboard to change keys.

Listen to these scales:

  Am Pentatonic Scale       Em Pentatonic Scale
e:---------------------5-8-|-------------------------------12-15-|
B:-----------------5-8-----|-------------------------12-15-------|
G:-------------5-7---------|-------------------12-14-------------|
D:---------5-7-------------|-------------12-14-------------------|
A:-----5-7-----------------|-------12-14-------------------------|
E:-5-8---------------------|-12-15-------------------------------|
   A C D E G A C D E G A C    E  G  A  B  D  E  G  A  B  D  E  G
Am & Em Pentatonic Scales on A string

Again, practice each of these scales ascending, then descending. Then move them up to various positions on the fretboard to change keys.

Listen to these scales:

  Am Pentatonic Scale             Em Pentatonic Scale
e:-------------------------12-15-|-------------------7-10---|
B:-------------------13-15-------|--------------8-10--------|
G:-------------12-14-------------|----------7-9-------------|
D:-------12-14-------------------|------7-9-----------------|
A:-12-15-------------------------|-7-10---------------------|
E:-------------------------------|--------------------------|
    A  C  D  E  G  A  C  D  E  G   E  G A B D E G  A B  D
When Should I Use these Scales?

The song you are playing lead with may be in a major key. You can still use one of these scales, but you need to use the scale of the relative minor of the key the song is in.

Confusing? Let me simplify.

If the song you are playing is in G, the relative minor for G is the 6th chord in the key, Em. So you could use the Em pentatonic scale to play with the song that is in G.

If the song is in the key of C, the relative minor is Am. Thus, you can use the Am pentatonic scale even though your song is in the major key.