The CAGED System Part Vii

Welcome back to part Vii. You may remember that in Lesson 1 I told you about a certain rule to apply. i said that in lesson 1 you could just acknowledge the rule and that it was not particularly important at that stage. however now in part Vii we will go back to that rule and examine why it is so important.

Lets combine Major and Minor pentatonic scales.

sometimes playing rock or blues is about combining both the major and minor scales to make phrases. Think BB King here in particular BB King was a master of this style as was Freddie King as well. In fact BB King has a particular pattern shape associated with him which is often referred to as the BB Box Shape. however this can cause more confusion and I will show you how BB King derived this particular shape from the combination of 2 shapes one minor and one major.

We have already seen how the same shape pattern can be used as either a major or a minor shape by simply rearranging the starting note. we have seen how we can move the same shape up and down by 3 frets to make the same shape either a major or a minor in the same key. For example playing A minor and moving the shape down back towards the Nut of the fretboard 3 frets will make the same shape A major.  Now lets examine how to play both major and minor in the same key without needing to move the shape up and down by the 3 frets rule.

If we go back to Lesson 1 and the rule. I said that in the C-A-G-E-D system the major is always 1 shape in front of the minor. So lets look at this in more detail. So if you are playing happily using the G shape as a minor scale. lets presume you are using the G shape starting @ fret 5 with the Root Note located at fret 5 and the next Root note occurring @ fret 7 on the D string then you are playing in A minor. This means that when you are using the G shape in this way as a minor pattern then the next available Major shape pattern occuring nearest to where you are playing will be one shape ahead on the C-A-G-E-D Grid.. So that shape will therefore be the E shape. Here is my visual representation of what is happening.


You see that the major is one shape pattern advanced in front of the minor. This is true of all the shapes.


then when the Minor pattern falls at the end on the D Shape the next available major pattern starts again on the C shape.


A practical way to look at this is to consider where the Root positions occur in the respective patterns. for this information go back to Part Vi.

Here is one diagram to refresh your memory. we will use this for the basis of this demonstration.


From the above G Shape there a few points to take note of. The first Root note occurs on the Low E 6th String at the start of the pattern and there is another Root note that is more advanced (further down) the fretboard occurring on the D 4th string. To move this pattern I showed you that the pattern gets moved by relocating the whole shape 3 frets back from the root on the Low E 6th string- hence the pattern is moved back to the Vi of the scale the relative minor note. So it is the first occurring Root note that helps us move the pattern up and down. This is important !

However it is the next or more advanced Root Note which will help is find the next available major shape closest to our G shape pattern we are using. This is another very important rule. So to find the major shape without resorting to moving our whole pattern up and down by 3 frets instead we use the most advanced Root note in our minor shape pattern to find the location of our Major shape pattern. there is no need to move we can simply combine 2 patterns together easily:one minor and one major.

So here is a graphic representation of where the most advanced root note occurs in the G Shape then i will show you in all the shapes.

Root-positions in G shape

Most advanced simply means furthest up the fretboard.

So now if we take the position of the most advanced Root note and count again 3 frets back from this note towards the nut of the fretboard we will establish the position of the relative minor note the Vi. Once this has been established we can build our E shape pattern starting from that note. this will establish the starting position for the major shape that we are going to combine with our G shape minor pattern. Remember the major is always one pattern ahead on the C-A-GE-D Grid. So if the minor pattern is G Shape as it is here-then the closest available Major Pattern will be the E shape pattern.


Use the VI note on which to build the next available pattern the E shape pattern in this instance.


You now have available notes from both the major and minor scales belonging to the Root note ( Common Root Note ). The principle of combining major and minor scales on a common root note is actually called playing notes from a parallel minor. It is common in Blues and Rock music.

This principle works for all the shapes but certain shapes are morre popular to combine. BB King particularly favoured combining a D Shape Minor pattern with the next available major the C Shape Major pattern. This resulting pattern , or at least a part of it , is referred to as the BB box. Also an A Shape Minor pattern works particularly well when combined with  the G Shape major pattern. Many players including Freddie King used the patterns shown above namely the G shape minor combined with the E shape Major. this is a commonly used pattern for many players.

I will now show you where the Most Advanced Root Notes are in each pattern then its up to you to make the combination based on the information I have so far provided.


Remember just count back 3 frets from the advanced root note and there you will find the VI– then locate your pattern for the major on this Vi Note

After this lesson we will be looking at chords and how the chords major and minor are derived from the patterns that I have given you. see you soon.

<Back to Part VI                                                       >Next Finding the Chords

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