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Linking Pentatonics To CAGED Shapes

We have all heard about the pentatonic shapes for guitar but the problem with learning them is that on their own they don’t seem to belong anywhere.


Well in this article we discover that isn’t true! In this article, we will be going over the following topics.


 

Why is this useful to know? The biggest issue when it comes to teaching scales is knowing which chords they go over.


A lot of the time when you first start having an interest in soloing or approaching the guitar.


The default method of teaching is to learn the 5 pentatonic shapes and not really join them up with their chordal counterparts.

 

This is problematic because it separates the soloing from chordal understanding.


When I was learning pentatonic I had no frame of reference as to where they belonged when chords were racing by.


This is addressed via the CAGED system.


Which brings us to the next topic.


A Brief Overview Of The Caged System


Since this isn’t purely about the caged system this will be a brief explanation of how it related to what we are talking about. If you wish to learn more about caged, we do have more articles that are a lot more in-depth that go over the explanation in full. To summarise the CAGED system is how a guitarist navigates the fretboard via using the major chord shapes at the open position.


These shapes can be altered to give our other chords i.e. minor dominant etc and transposed in sequence of the word caged to get our barre chords across the neck.


Let’s move on to...


Linking Pentatonic to CAGED - Beta Test Blog Banner | Grokit Guitar


The 5 Pentatonic Shapes Major And Minor


First of all, let’s talk about which intervals are within a minor pentatonic.


We will choose the minor pentatonic because it’s the most commonly taught pentatonic for guitar and where most people start with scalic playing on guitar.


In the minor pentatonic we have the interval formula R (Root), b3, 4 5 b7.

Linking Pentatonics To CAGED Shapes - Interval Formula | Grokit Guitar
Linking Pentatonics To CAGED Shapes - Interval Formula | Grokit Guitar

We only have 5 notes seeing as that what a pentatonic is, 5 notes from the tonic.


Here are the 5 shapes:

C Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar


You may have learnt these before as 5 pentatonic shapes before so it helps that when we learn the major pentatonic shapes that they are the same shapes but shifted by one position.


So, they play the same but the root notes and the intervals have changed.


The intervals in the major scale are R (root), Maj 2nd, Maj 3rd, perfect 5th and major 6th

Learn to connect pentatonic shapes with the CAGED system for improved guitar soloing and chord understanding. Unlock seamless playing with this guide.
The Intervals in the Major Scale | Grokit Guitar

 

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And here is what the 5 major pentatonic look like across the neck:

C Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar


This is the base knowledge for knowing your pentatonic but we need to be able to link them to our chords so that when we play chord progressions, we can recognise these patterns quicker and see the intervals over the chord to hear how the melodic content plays in the context of a chord.


Decent musicians will always be thinking of how what they are playing sounds against the chords they are playing over.


In our next topic we will be going over how to acquire this knowledge. 


How The Pentatonic Shapes Link To The CAGED Shapes


If we first lay out caged in sequence across the neck in major chords we can understand that from the root we can start to visualise which pentatonic scale patterns belong to which CAGED chord shapes.


Let`s take a look at how major chords using CAGED looks across the neck in sequence:

C Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar

D Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar

Then we match them with their respective CAGED major pentatonic.

C Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Major Chord | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Major Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar


It will be good to practice knowing this information and usually playing the chord first then the associated pentatonic with it.


Now let's take a look at the Minor versions of CAGED


CAGED minor is just one note different namely the third which is flattened by a half step.


We alter the original CAGED major to gain the minor variants, as this is the base idea for using the caged system and adapting it into other chord types. 


Here is what that looks like across the neck:

C Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar

We have successfully mapped out the minor chords it's now time to trace over them, the minor pentatonic, and make the chord shapes fit with the pentatonic positions.


This is what that looks like:

C Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
C Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
A Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
G Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
E Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Chord | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar
D Shape Minor Pentatonic | Grokit Guitar

Practicing these and knowing them will help you track what’s going on in the background of the music.


I strongly believe that its important to always have the structure of chord first or the understanding that chords should be understood before applying the scales because if you don’t have that chord visualised while you are playing, your playing will sound more out of context and less melodic as it would with the understanding of linking scales back to their chordal contexts.


I hope this article helps with how you link your caged chords with your pentatonic.


....And because we are only two notes out from a full major scale, stay tuned as there will be an article going over exactly this with the major scale.



see you in the next article!

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