The Pentatonic Scale Chart – The Relationship Between The Guitar Shapes And The Guitar Chords


Hey guys, as promised in the pentatonic scale article, in this article you will learn how to combine the pentatonic scale chart fingerings with the CAGED system chart.

In this article you will learn the Benefits of learning the link between the pentatonic scale chart and the caged system chart.

By doing this:

  • You will learn how to improvise all over the fretboard
  • By simply memorizing the shapes you will virtually vastly improve your fretboard visualization
  • It will be easier for you to find new and make new licks on your own
  • You will know what are the best notes for improvisation
  • No more “bad notes” when improvising
  • You improve your confidence when it comes to improvising. I don’t know about you, but I was afraid of improvising when I was starting out because I was afraid I was going to sound bad and others will laugh at me.

The Link between the pentatonic scale chart and the caged system explained

Let’s start with the A minor pentatonic scale chart. Please take a look at the chart below that contains A minor pentatonic scale all over the fretboard.

Most guitar players are comfortable with playing position 1, and often most of them do not bother learning the other 4 positions.

Take a look at the above chart and try to spot the CAGED system minor shapes hidden in each scale fingering.

Have you done that ?

You probably noticed the following:

  • Position 1 = Em Shape
  • Position 2 = Dm Shape
  • Position 3 = Cm Shape
  • Position 4 = Am Shape
  • Position 5 = Gm shape

The key to expanding your vocabulary lies in becoming accustomed with all shapes .

Another advice I would give you is to learn the “skeleton” chords that are hidden in each pentatonic scale chart position.

Besides the benefit of vastly improving your visualization, by learning the pentatonic scale chart shapes and the chords that are hidden between them you will also always know where the chord tones are.

What does this mean ?

This means that you can improvise effortlessly because when it comes to soloing you probably know that the chord tones are the best notes to use, especially when starting or ending a guitar phrase.

I would also like to point out that sometimes you will need to find more than one set of chord tones within a scale shape.

Why do I have to do so?

To better understand what do I want to point out, let’s consider the I – IV – V step progression.

If the notes of the A minor pentatonic are A, C, D, E and G, the I – IV – V progression means playing Am, Dm and Em .

Let’s see what are the chord tones used in the progression for each of the chords:

  • We have A minor chord – which contains notes A, C and E
  • We have D minor chord – which contains notes D, F and A
  • We have E minor chord which contains E, G and B

Since the A minor pentatonic doesn’t contain the notes of B and F, you effectively have only two chord tones at your disposal when you use this scale over the Dm or Em chords, and they are not necessarily the same as the chord tones that worked over A minor.

The Solution ?

There are some guitar players that can quite happily make this decision by ear by hearing which notes work with each chord as they wonder around the scale shape and instinctively placing more emphasis on those notes.

Even if you consider yourself to be such a player it is still a good idea to understand the principles at work here so that you can apply them in less familiar musical situations.

Another way you can approach the above pentatonic scale chart progression is by using a different pentatonic scale chart for each chord.

If you choose this approach, the key is to finger the three different scales in the same part of the neck. More specifically you’d have to group them like this:


Position 1 – Em Shape

Position 2 – Dm Shape

Position 3 – Cm Shape

Position 4 – Am shape

Position 5 – Gm shape


Position 4 – Am shape

Position 5 – Gm shape

Position 1 – Em Shape

Position 2 – Dm Shape

Position 3 – Cm Shape


Position 3 – Cm Shape

Position 4 – Am shape

Position 5 – Gm shape

Position 1 – Em Shape

Position 2 – Dm Shape

Try each row in turn from the above table. To memorize it, your best bet is to remember the CAGED system shapes rather than the position numbers.

You might also want to try this version of the same idea, which extends beyond the I, IV and V progression.

Start with position 1 of the A minor pentatonic and keep moving in fourths, following A minor with Dm, Gm, Cm, Fm, Bb m and so on, keeping your hand in the some part of the neck the whole time until you come back to A minor again 12 keys later.

I recommend that you learn the article that I wrote about the circle of fifths (or circle of fourths) to better understand the above exercise.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you tackle key changes smoothly, so do give it a go.

Applying the same principles to the major pentatonic scale chart

All you have to know about the major pentatonic scale chart is that is is the same as the minor pentatonic scale chart, only that it starts with the second position.

The thing you have to do with the major scale si to identify the major shapes and start doing everything you did with the minor shapes.

To help you out i will give you the major pentatonic scale chart shapes and their CAGED corespondent right here:

Position 1 – E shape

Position 2 – D shape

Position 3 – C shape

Position 4 – A shape

Position 5 – G shape

Guitar pentatonic scale chart conclusion

I want you to practice everything i told you in this article and take it slowly.

This may be to advanced for some of you but don’t worry, you can find all the information needed to comprehend the above concepts right here on guitar learning tips. Al you need to do is just read the articles that i linked to through this article and read those first.

Some of them may take some additional time to master, but again do not worry because guitar playing is a process and taking the time to learn and let sink in the concepts makes the difference between bad and good guitar players.

In the end i would like to wish you all the best with your pentatonic scale chart practice.

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