Minor Pentatonic: The 5 Patterns

See the scale patterns, suggested fingerings and alternate fingerings here!

View the full lesson at Minor Pentatonic: The 5 Patterns | JustinGuitar

Dear Justin Guitar;
This is regarding the lesson titled “MINOR PENTATONIC: THE 5 PATTERNS”
on Minor Pentatonic: The 5 Patterns | JustinGuitar.com

Under the sub-heading
Pattern 1 (CAGED Shape E)”
Pattern 1 looks more like CAGED Shape G.

Also, for the following:
“Pattern 2 (CAGED Shape D)”
Pattern 2 looks more like CAGED Shape E.

“Pattern 3 (CAGED Shape C)”
Pattern 3 looks more like CAGED Shape D.

“Pattern 4 (CAGED Shape A)”
Pattern 4 looks more like CAGED Shape C.

“Pattern 5 (CAGED Shape G)”
Pattern 5 looks more like CAGED Shape A.

I do understand that the relationship between major/minor patterns is 3 half-steps apart.
Whereas the shape names are all fixed and referenced to the 5 basic open chord patterns and not to their actual tonality or

As in C-shaped chord doesn’t mean a C chord. Shape names are fixed, pitch/chord names change.

I am very sorry to trouble you.
I am quite confused and so I felt that I should give feedback and check with you.
I hope you can spare a moment.
Looking forward to your reply.

Best regards,

Remember these are the minor shapes Paul.


The notes arrowed are flattened by 1 semitone (or half step) (or one fret). This changes the chord sound from major to minor. (Flattened third).


Hey Paul,

Your confusion might be related to major/ minor pair vs major/ minor relative pairs. The fomer being same shape, next position, the latter being same shape, same position. Of course the tonality changes. I had a similar struggle with it earlier on. Personally, over time, I’ve found this way of looking at it mostly unhelpful. Others may differ.

For me, its all about the root notes, and the subsequent intervals. The E and G
shapes on the E string, C and A shapes in the A string, D shape on the D string.
From there you can derive all your major, minor, pentatonic scales etc, all your chords, triads, arpeggios etc.



Welcome to the forum Paul.
There are 5 patterns to the Pentatonic scale. Every pattern share a Major and Minor pentatonic scale.
Just like how the Major scale has a relative minor scale using the same notes but having a different tonal center the Major and Minor pentatonic scales have the same relationship with each other.

The relative minor to G major is E minor. If you look at the E shape minor pentatonic scale posted by Dave (liaty) and move the Root note (red number 1) up 3 semitones and use that note as the root you will have the Major Pentatonic G Shape. Same notes Different tonal center.


Hi Dave, thank you very much for your reply. Appreciate it.

I think I get what your explanation suggests. You are saying that we should look at the open minor chord shape that comes from within one of the 5 open major chord shapes from CAGED by flattening the 3rd. (Like you have indicated with the blue arrows on your illustrations.)

And then we give the pattern name according to that open minor shaped pattern (even though the main pattern comes from the major shape pattern which has a different name).

From 1st pattern to 5th pattern:
(1) E-minor shape from the G-major pattern
(2) D-minor shape from the E-major pattern
(3) C-minor shape from the D-major pattern
(4) A-minor shape from the C-major pattern
(5) G-minor shape from the A-major pattern

(Do let me know if I need to correct any part of my understanding as described above.)

Thank you for your explanation and time.


Yep exactly this.

It’s good to notice how the patterns relate to each other as part of the ‘big, music theory, picture’ but don’t worry too much about it, it will (I guess) all slot together once we learn more….


Thanks Dave.

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Hey Guys! Stupid question time… couldn’t find this specifically on the forum search…

Somehow I’ve avoided learning CAGED and Scales for… decades… and I’m on this page, but don’t quite follow something.

The diagrams are all labeled “CAGED E shape” or CAGED D Shape, etc…

But when comparing to THIS PAGE, where those shapes are laid out… I’m not seeing (or maybe just not understanding) how they’re the same shapes.

What am I missing?

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Hi John, first website is talking about minor pentatonic scale and it’s relationship to how it’s movable using CAGED system. Second link is talking about major chords and how those shapes are movable across the fretboard and strings, so not scale per se. CAGED applies to anything really, major scale, minor scale, modes, minor pentatonic etc etc. So really those two things are talking about the same but with regards to different things that can use CAGED. Hope this makes sense :wink:

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Hey thanks for the quick response!

I do see how it’s talking about how it’s movable on the first page, but still not quite seeing why they’re named after the respective CAGED.

For instance, how is this “CAGED Shape E”? What about that shape relates it to “E”?

I started to think I was onto understanding it with the root note being on the “E” String… the D Shape’s root note being on the “D” String, etc. But that left the “CAGED C Shape” as the odd one out–its root notes on either the A or B string (neither being C :upside_down_face:)

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It has very little to do with the string the root note is.
The E shape is called the E shape because the E shaped Barre Chord is the base of the shape. If you make the black line the nut what chord is this? ignore the C F A notes look at the shape.

Same as this ignore the notes look at the shape

Same as this ignore the two red C note just look at the pink note pattern.

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You need to look at it like two separate things :slight_smile: on minor pentatonic yes it follows an open string note except the odd C shape which is first fret B string and on major scale it follows shapes like stich replied.

With B string C note is on 1st fret. Think of it this way - if you would be tuning your guitar using 5th fret method and you would do each string against 5th fret B string would be C :slight_smile: to make it more musical and easier to play at 2nd string is B hence you tune it using 4th fret. It’s just a guitar thing something to remember and take for granted :smile:


Gotcha, okay that clears it up. A bit wonky naming convention, but I guess it’s the best there is? Haha. I might stick to the “Position #” titles to keep things sensible :slight_smile:

Thanks again!


Hopefully this helps. I’ve taken Justin’s major scale sheet and highlighted the CAGED shapes within each shape. All the highlighted notes are either a root, third or fifth (the major chord triad notes). The C shape is in green to distinguish it from the D shape which it overlaps.


@adi_mrok and @DuseyBear the minor pentatonic scale is derived from the minor scale(Aeolian Mode). The minor scale is the 6th interval of the parent Major Scale (Ionian Mode)
But you don’t need to know this all you need to know is you cant compare the Minor Pentatonic scale to the Major Scale if you don’t understand Minor 3rd and Flat 7th.

Forget all this it has nothing to do with how the CAGED system works or got it’s name.
If you put a capo on the 2nd fret and play a C chord What chord are you playing?

D chord. Why? Because you have moved the C shaped open chord up Two semitones. Now get rid of the capo and Barre the second fret with your index finger and play a C chord.

What chord do you get? D chord. Why? Because you have moved the C shaped open Chord up 2 semi tomes.
This works with All 5 Chords in C A G E D and all their minor and 7th and every chord scale arpeggio all over the neck related to these 5 shapes


Super helpful, yes! This is exactly what I wasn’t seeing.

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Hey, appreciate this thorough explanation! I’ll admit it’s a bit out of my realm of experience level to fully grasp just yet–and part of why I found myself drawn to Justin’s site was the lack of “jumping the gun” as far as theory and why things work… but I’m sure once I get there your explanation will become clear. Cuz I DON’T understand Minor 3rd or Flat 7th yet or how that relates to any of this… but I’ll look into that now that I know it’s related.

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Would it be correct to sum up what you said as:

  • The CAGED shape names of these minor scales are based on the Major (Ionian) scale, not the Minor (Aeolian) scale we’re looking at.
  • I.E. the names make sense in Ionian, and are just derivative in the Minor

Or at least partially? Still looking into Minor 3rd and Flat 7th.

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The shapes you are look at are Major Chords so Yes they’re are based of the Major Scale
The scale you posted is Minor So based off the minor scale. But everything is based off Major scale but you need to know what a minor 3rd is. Plus the Major Scale has 7 notes the minor prntatonic has 5 notes.

The difference between a E Major chord and a E minor chord is the 3rd interval in a minor chord is Flattened making it a minor 3rd. E major chord notes E G# B Em notes E G B.
I suggest you take the first 2 grades of Justin’s Practical Theory Course it will help clear up how chords are made and in turn help with the different scales.
Grades 1 and 2 are free