Major Scale Fingerings (Positional, CAGED)

Playing music on the guitar well often demands that we play along the string (shifting). Certain musical gestures cannot be attained through positional playing alone, and often fingering a passage along the string simply feels better than the positional alternatives.

However, positional scale and arpeggio studies are essential to developing an understanding of the symmetry and organization of the fretboard. Also, a positional approach provides the consistency required to develop the kinesthetic-visual-aural associations that improvisation demands.

The PDF files below present 5 fingering patterns (or regions) for the C Major scale. The regions are named for the lowest scale tone in the given position. For example, Region 7 begins on the 7th scale degree. Study of these 5 simple shapes will lead to mastery of major scale harmony as applied to the guitar.

A few things to consider while practicing these scales/arpeggios:

  • They are movable to other tonal centers. The white dots/notes provide visual cues.
  • They can be chromatically altered to produce other scales and modes. For example, lower the third, and you have Jazz Minor sounds (ascending Melodic Minor).
  • In the beginning, it is most effective to practice improvising over a given chord progression within a single region. Later, when all 5 regions have been assimilated, one can move between the others freely, shifting at will.