The CAGED System For Learning Guitar Scales - Part II
In the last post on this topic (see Part I), we introduced the ‘CAGED’ system for memorising guitar scales, and showed the C, A and G scale patterns, using the C major scale as an example.
Now we’ll look at the other 2 patterns, E & D, and then look at the patterns overall, and see how they link together across the fretboard.
Here’s the ‘E’ scale shape for the C major scale:
The numbers on the notes are the scale degrees of those notes, for example, number ‘2′ represents the 2nd note in the scale (in the case of the C major scale here, this is the note ‘D’), ‘3′ represents the 3rd note (here it’s ‘E’), etc. The notes marked ‘R’ represent the root (first) note of the scale, in this case the ‘R’ notes represent the note ‘C’, as we’re looking at these patterns in the key of C major.
The notes coloured blue are the notes usually used to form that particular chord pattern, which are the root (R), third (3) and fifth (5) notes of the scale.
In this ‘E’ pattern, you can see that the notes marked in blue form an E-major shape barre chord, positioned at the 8th fret.
Here’s the final pattern, the ‘D’ scale shape for the C major scale:
The lower root note (R) is the note ‘C’ on the 4th string, 10th fret, and the notes marked in blue form a D-shape barre chord, positioned at this 10th fret.
Playing this particular pattern completely involves a little bit of finger stretching, I usually slide up from note ‘3′ to ‘4′ on the 3rd string with my first finger, before ascending to the top notes of the pattern.
Finally, here’s a diagram showing all of the scale patterns, starting with the ‘C’ shape pattern at the 3rd fret, moving through all of the ‘CAGED’ shapes up to the ‘D’ shape at the 10th fret:
Hopefully this gives you an idea of how the patterns come together to cover the fretboard.
When learning the patterns, I would practice them individually at first, and try to remember each pattern based on the notes of the chord shape for that pattern.
Then, you can start to link the different patterns. For example, looking at the ‘E’ and ‘D’ shape diagrams above, you can see that the upper ‘3′ and ‘7′ notes of the ‘E’ pattern from the 9th fret are exactly the same notes as the lower ‘3′, ‘7′ notes from the ‘D’ pattern at the 9th fret.
So you could start off playing the ‘E’ shape pattern, but then after playing the ‘2′ note on the 3rd string, 7th fret, slide this first finger up to the 9th fret, and then continue on in the ‘D’ shape pattern.
Linking the patterns like this is essential for being able to play scales up and down the fretboard, so it’s good to practice.
Once you’ve learned the CAGED scale patterns in one key (e.g. C major, as shown here), playing in different keys is just a matter of shifting the pattern up to a different fret. For example, take the ‘E’ shape pattern above. Right now, because this starts with the ‘R’ root note at the 8th fret on the 6th string, this is a C major scale. However, if you shift this pattern up 2 frets, by starting at the 10th fret on the 6th string, this is now a D major scale.
So if you’ve learned all of the CAGED patterns up across the fretboard, you should be able to play the scales in any key, by locating the patterns on the right root note.
To learn more about the CAGED system for guitar scales, and how you can apply this to lead guitar soloing, take a look at the Jamorama Lead Guitar course, which is based on this method, and gives a clear and detailed step by step guide to all of the CAGED scale patterns.