In the first part of this lesson, we studied the definition of a Major Scale and the 7 most common patterns for playing it on the guitar. Next, in part 2, we covered William Leavitt’s positions for playing the Major Scale. In this last part of my Major Scale lesson, we will take a look at another pattern-based system for playing scales, the CAGED system. The idea behind it is to exploit the relationship between common chord and scale patterns. For this lesson, the prerequisites are the same as for part 1.
You probably already know how to play the C, A, G, E and D chords on the guitar:
The idea here is that, for a given chord, the CAGED chord patterns repeat along the fingerboard cyclicly, in that order. For instance, if we start at the open strings, we will see the following for the C Major chord.
The C shape overlaps with the A shape, which overlaps with the G shape, and so on. By memorizing the 5 shapes, you may find any chord tone for any key very quickly on the fingerboard.
Now, let’s see how this relates to the Major Scale. The idea remains the same: scale patterns will show up in the same sequence of shapes along the fretboard. For instance, in E Major, we will start on the Major Scale pattern around the C shape.
As you may have noticed already, the consecutive patterns also overlap, making it possible for you to play 3-octave runs by connecting patterns. This is an exercise you should try. Once you have memorized the 5 patterns, you will be able to play any Major Scale anywhere on the fingerboard.
That’s it for part 3. I will probably throw in a bonus and write one more part about playing the Major Scale in thirds and fourths.