Major Scale Pattern 1 Lesson on JustinGuitar

View the full lesson at Major Scale Pattern 1 | JustinGuitar

Might be worth mentioning (maybe I missed it) that the Major Scale is also called the Ionian (Major). I was all excited to try the scale on session mode with Rocksmith and couldn’t find anything called “Major Scale”. Tried all the scales that had “Major” in it and was happy to see that yes, it is there and they call it the Ionian (Major) Scale in the game.


I am a bit confused here. If I learn scales I see that they follow up each other. I mean, C played on the first 3 frets has a certain pattern. A has another pattern, using the first 4 frets, but this A shape can also be used for playing a C starting from the 5th fret. If I would play a C I could use the C shape on the first 3 frets(and the zero fret), or the A shape starting on fret 3, G shape starting on fret 5, E shape on fret 8 or D shape starting on fret 10. This would start all over again at fret 12. This pattern 1 however looks like a mixture of G shape (partly) and the E shape(partly). What is the reason/benefit of learning this patterns if you already are learning the shapes of the CAGED scales. I mean, with this first pattern, apparently called the E shape, you can not play the E scale if you want to include the lowest E, with the CAGED shapes I can play every scale I want. I know there are more patterns to follow but how do they differ from the scale shapes?
Thx in advance for clearing this out.
Kind regards, Luc

Major = Ionian for sure.
Justin teaches all around this in the modes section of the theory course.

For general purpose every-day use Major is the most commonly understood and appropriate description.

Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

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Justin is teaching the major scale patterns according to the CAGED system in this section of the website. There are five patterns, each one matching one of the letters from the acronym. And the acronym CAGED derives from the shapes of the open position major chords of C, A, G, E and D respectively.
The E-shape is conventionally called pattern 1. Not because it has priority or is better than any of the others. Simply because it is convention.
The patterns intersect and overlap in both directions along the guitar neck from end-to-end.
For any given key, there will be at least five full patterns plus about two more full patterns that can be visualised / played until the frets run out towards the guitar body or the nut and open strings create a barrier at the other end of the neck.
For any given key, the lowest possible scale pattern that can be played before the entire shape, unbroken, spills off the end beyond the nut will vary. For some keys it will be the E-shape, for other keys the D-shape etc.
That said, it may be that a partial scale pattern exists below the lowest full pattern which may or may not include open strings.
Try not to over think this - the patterns are convenient learning delivery tools. The patterns spread across the entire guitar and are seamless wholes. It is the task of a musician developing to blend and join together the notes in pleasing musical ways, not bounded by patterns.

Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

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Hi Richard, thx for answering this. I do get this but my main confusion is: why call it an E shape? I think you can play every scale except for the E scale if you want to stick below the 12th fret with the root note, or do I see this wrong?

@Luc67 it is called the E shape because like the open E chord
the root notes are on the 2 E strings and the D string.
This is where all the CAGED shapes get their names.
The C shape has the root notes on the A and B strings just
like the open C chord and so on with all the shapes

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You are getting yourself tied up in knots for no reason. Sorry, but it kind of seems like you’re trying to run before learning to walk. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but let’s break this down.

Everything is explained in the videos and in text. Take each lesson in turn, take notes as you go if needed. This will be of more help than any of us can provide. It’s not a case of showing you a shape, calling it the E shape, get on with it, Justin goes to great lengths to explain as best he can the how and why.

Try to forget what you are thinking and start from the beginning. Pattern 1 of the Major Scale is known as the E shape because the E Major chord shape is built around that particular scale shape. The most obvious way is using a barre chord which is movable just as the scale shape is. You should try and see from the chord and scale diagrams the similarity. Where the chord tones lie in that scale shape and hear how they link.

For instance, play a G Major barre chord using the E shape, then play the G Major scale from the 6th string, then play the chord again. Anything past this point is useless until you understand this first position.

I sincerely hope this helps and I was not too hard on you.

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No worries, I understand what you mean. Only, I know about barred chords, know scales and how chords are build. I studied the Quinten circle, but it is just that name that came in conflict with what I have learned or at least, I thaught so. The simple answer came from stitch, I do not have to focus on the form as if it was the E major scale, it is just because the position of the root notes are on the same strings as with a E chord. I need to look with this keeping in mind to understand it. I shouldn’t compare those patterns with the ‘real scale forms’. I mix up with caged scales as explained in a book by jason sidewell and jamie dickson where they refer to the actual scale forms to play those scales. The E shape they use is different from the E pattern found here… Too much information can be confusing :slightly_smiling_face:

Thx for the time you all spend on this.

@Luc67 I’d be interested in what the patterns in this Book by Jason Sidewell look like.
The patterns that Justin teaches are the Majors Scale Patterns of the CAGED System.
If this book is teaching you different Major Scale Patterns using the CAGED System
then the Book is WRONG.

There are two ways scales are laid out on the Fret Board. The CAGED System which
Justin Teaches with 5 pattern named after the open chords C A G E D hence the name
and 3NPS(3 notes per string) with has 7 patterns.

Is the Book teaching the minor pentatonic scale and note the Major Scale?
This would be the only way the patterns would be different.

See if these help:

And at the open position, below the D-shape full pattern, there exists a partial E-shape pattern.
Note the the full E-shape pattern based around root notes at fret 12 dups down below fret 12 also - notes that are not available in the lower position as you can’t play notes lower than an open string on that string.
But compare them and see how they are the same.

Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator


I am not sure how to post pics here, i just took some and via the link below you can see them. It is a dutch translation btw. You will see they use other forms to play those scales. I guess it is a different approach, they use the guitar boxes different too, the first string is below and the fret side is on the right.
What they do is not wrong, it is different.

Scales - Album on Imgur

@Richard_close2u ,thx for the huge trouble you take. It makes things a lot more clear.
As you mention you can not play notes lower than the open string, leaving the lowest E scale a bit incomplete played with pattern 1. (lowest G# is missing) As I notice now it is just a matter of using another pattern of it suits better. I took some trouble in noting some guitar diagrams to further explain what was my confusion. As you can see in the lower box on the right the pattern 1 is basically a mixture of 2 shapes used in this other caged system I have learned. (G and E) In this system they call the E shape the form the one you find in the 4th box, it starts with the lowest E note. There is the follow up of CAGED, major or minor, both exist.
In this book I mentioned they do not use those patterns of Justin anywhere, so this was new for me, but when you start looking for it, it is all over the internet. Well I subscribed to Justin to learn, and I do, didn’t expect my simple question would create some controverse(maybe not the correct word, i do not know a better one in English)

Edit: link included

@Luc67 Thanks for noting those patterns from the other source.
It helps to understand why you were confused.
My advice - close that book, put it on a shelf, leave it there.

Major and minor scales do not have different patterns.
That is a glaring anti-convention being taught by that resource.

Stick with Justin.
And, crucially, stick with one pattern and one pattern only until you know it inside out, back to front, without looking or thinking and you can use it to create and improvise and play simple melodies and improvised play over backing tracks.
See here: When NOT To Learn Scales... |

Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

Totally agree. I’m sorry and surprised that Jason has presented it in this way because he is a fine player and teacher in many issues of Guitar Techniques magazine.

As I said earlier forget what you’ve read, start from scratch right here right now. The method Justin uses is a far more common way to present this subject and presented in a way far easier to understand. I can’t encourage you enough to follow Richards advice. If you stick with it I guarantee you will make great progess.

Good luck and never be afraid to ask questions :grinning:

Well, I think the book will serve as a decorative thing, it had a good looking cover😁
I guess there are many ways to approach this, but since i described to Justin, i will follow his way, and stick to it. It is no use try to learn every possible approach and ending up with mastering nothing.
Thx for your time to all of you.


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@Luc67 it not Justin’s way. The CAGED system is how a guitar
fretboard is laid out. He is just teaches what is a fact and time
What is in that magazine is not the CAGED system.
It is someone’s idea to try and sell magazines.

You did make a good decision to stick with Justin

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Keep us posted on how you get on dude. As you can tell a lot of us care about each others progress and problems and that helps us in our journey too.

Take care Bro

Hi Dave,

Knowing myself a little bit, a stop in learning extra things and make time in practicing the things I have learned so far. I think it could be a good idea to practice this first pattern by just improvise a bit on some backtracks, by finding some G major backtracks and then try it in another major key. Meanwhile I found the U2 song ‘one’ that I would like to learn. It suprised me that the whole song is build on a -dear I say it- rather easy chord progress, and would like to be able to play it in a way it touches me. So, a pause in new chords, but try to use what i have seen so far in a way it gets comfortable, maybe look for a few more songs…
Thx for your interest.

But I wonder, Justin is for learning, you guys seems to know a lot already, I guess not every one is a moderator. So, how comes you ppl are on this community, is it advanced learning or mainly interest?

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JustinGuitar isn’t just for Beginners. He has loads of advanced lesson and lesson on Technique
and Theory
Learning Guitar is a life long quest. I’ve been playing for over 45 years and have learnt a lot
from Justin. Mostly theory and fixed bad habits that I picked up along my journey.
It’s also nice to pass on knowledge and help others to learn.