Scale pattern number conventiong

I believe there are different systems and approaches to scale pattern numbering conventions. In moving forward with JG I will just need to alter some I’ve used for decades.

For instance the major scale pattern 1 ( Like most, I learned the pentatonic “home” scale first. This is called position 1. Position 2 is next up higher toward the bridge, 3,4 & 5 follow.

When I learned the major scales years later I naturally called maj scale 1 “pattern 2” because pentatonic pattern 2 + 2 added notes creates maj scale pattern 2 but it is not presented this way.

I think it relates to the pentatonic major versus minor patterns and the system is renumbered there as well.

It looks like I need to relearn this to align myself to the material here. Such is life and I’d rather do it the “common way”.

Is it actually the common, standardized convention? I really don’t know, thoughts?

Hey Brian,

I’ve only been playing a few short years, but a conversation some time back in this forum turned on a huge lightbulb for me.
This pattern 1, pattern 2 etc just didn’t sit right with me. It seemed very arbitrary and messy.
I was told the CAGED system can be applied to scales. What? If chords are built from scales, then maybe there’s something tothis. I’ll have a look at it. And suddenly it was all very logical and made perfect sense to me.
Traditional ‘Pattern1’ is the E shape, for major/ minor/ pentatonic etc. Pattern 2 is the D shape etc. EDCAG is the sequence/map. This logic holds wherever you start, in whatever key.
Now , I’ve got alot to learn, and I may/ may not find inconsistencies/ exceptions down the track, but this was a significant revelation for me, and really helped me start to see the fretboard more clearly.

Cheers, Shane


I agree with Shane- the pattern numbers aren’t very helpful. Here’s a scale chart produced by Justin and modified by me. It relates the pattern number to its CAGED (or more usefully, EDCAG) shape and shows how they link together. The C shape is in green to differentiate it from the D shape because they share some notes.

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@jacksprat . thanks gents. I need to put this to bed and move forward knowing I’m labelling “right” and consistently.

I ignored CAGED (and lots of other stuff) over the years ‘cause I rocked. :sunglasses: I note the CAGED poster has pattern numbering on it, I’ll probably learn both (chord shape names) but will have to shift it in my brain - in the end I’m sure it will be worth it.

I also have been meaning to get some more use out of the Neckdiagrams software I have, this is perfect for it and much else too.

Conventionally, major scale pattern 1 and minor pentatonic scale pattern 1 are both derived from the E-shape within the CAGED system.
It is also conventional to always see the major scale as the root and source of everything.
The minor pentatonic scale is a subset of the full (natural) minor scale.
The natural minor scale is a modal scale derived from the major scale.
Pattern 1 of the major scale is the E-shape, it contains the E-shape barre chord and it has as a subset the E-shape major pentatonic scale.
Pattern 1 of the minor scale is also the E-shape, it contains the E-shape minor barre chord and it has as a subset the E-shape minor pentatonic scale.

Pattern 1 of the minor scale / minor pentatonic scales are exact matches - in terms of dot patterns - for pattern 5 of the major scale / major pentatonic scale.

Funny you should say that - I have been busy creating these diagrams using the same software.

Patterns 1 - both E-shape


Patterns 5 & 1 (G-shape and E-shape) - both exactly the same dot patterns but different letter names within CAGED


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Much thanks for this post Richard.

On some level I figured 1 is 1 and 2 is 2 so lets call 1 & 2 = 1 & 2 and everything aligns. Except when it doesn’t. If this was the convention then 1 maj and 1 min in different places is not possible.

It becomes possible when referenced as moveable shapes, not a chord position on the fretboard. I think this is the source of my confusion. It’s like apple (ios) logic that you can’t “save” a file, you must “share” it with yourself as if one were a different person.

I think I’ve established my confusion but really I get the maj scale is the ground and min is aeolian mode (6) and special. Renumbering everything for every modal center as 1 will never make any sense to me. In A dorian is Am referred to as the 1 chord? Don’t know but seems confusing and a lot more memory work.

It seems the CAGED system, or EDCAG as I’ve recently seen it, bypasses all the confusion of the mixed up numerical overlap and I should just rote the patterns that I know into the CAGED name format.

Perhaps a day will come when I just know what sound I want in the moment and know what the shape / pattern looks like to give me the sound I want and forget all the names. Until somebody asks me to tell them …

So, CAGED / EDCAG is the steadfast, never changing bedrock, you know - #1 ah sheesh…

I feel you. The elements can come together with a little bit of ear training. I won’t for a minute claim that I always (or often as I would like) get that right.

Finding the root note is a good start, this establishes a sense of “home”, and then getting a feel for intervals from there is a big help. The secret sauce is to become an intuitive player using triads/chord tones, scale patterns, boxes and whatever else you can grab. Sometimes a melody line or riff can help a lot.

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