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I have two questions that are somewhat related. I've intended to ask these questions for a couple of weeks but did not want to be gauche. That is, you all are teachers and I thought my asking would be taking advantage of your knowledge.

But then I thought it's that way at every group on this site. Also, maybe my explaining these questions will show you how confused a student can get and, hopefully by answering, you can arrive at a good way to explain something - or see how other teachers explain it. Finally, this might give you some insight on a lesson program (teaching the fretboard) that is out there in case you might want to use it or if one of your students buys it and has questions. The only problem with this course I'm referring to is you cannot ask questions.

If you've already X'd outta here, I don't blame you. I know it's asking a lot for free advice on something for which you normally are paid. I don't mean to offend. But if you're still with me, and willing to take a crack at helping me understand, I would very much appreciate a reply.

Question #1 is a simple one. This course teaches using the major scale patterns (CAGED) to complete Major scales. For example, an exercise showed two E flats on a fretboard (in an A type pattern) and you have to enter all the other notes to complete the scale from the 6th string to the 1st. No problem. but what I don't understand is why the reference to, even emphasis on, the A pattern? Could it be that, if I am trying to improvise something in the key of E flat, this - or notes from this - would be the pattern I would use?

Question #2. This is my main question and I can see that it's going to be tough to write this. The bottom line question is: How would you explain these patterns and how they relate to Major and Natural Minor scales?

Now, it you want to torture yourself with my detailed question, here it is:

The course says, for instance, an A type Natural Minor scale pattern is the same as a C type Major pattern, just with different root notes. This is because the Natural Minor scale is a diatonic scale and is always made up of the same notes as a Major scale (with different root notes). EXAMPLE: the A type Natural Minor scale with a G root is the same as a C type Major scale with an E flat root.

I sure hope I'm getting this right and making sense...

To find the relative minor of any major key, just find the 6th degree of the major scale (e.g., C maj... 6th degree is A and that is the relative minor). Conversely, to find the relative major of any minor key, find the 3rd degree of the natural minor scale.

What confuses me to no end is they show a C pattern and say it is a natural minor to a D pattern.

Nope. It ain't. Least wise to me it isn't if I understand all the rest. What am I missing?

The exercise says to use a C type natural minor scale pattern to complete all the notes for the D root (D on 5th string, fret 2 and D on 2nd string, fret 3). They tell me to use the formula: Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole Whole to get to minor scale pattern completed and I can, every time. But where it gets messy is when they also tell me the other way to get all these notes is to use the D pattern and I can't see how that is supposed to work.

Wow, this is confusing. At least to me it is. Probably not to all of you who understand this and teach it. I'm wondering if they have just done a poor job of explaining it or if I should just ignore it and use the formula each time. Am I confusing patterns with root notes?

I really wish I had a teacher. THIS (the ability to ask questions) is just one of the reasons why you need one as opposed to doing it on your own from courses or books. If I need to further explain my misunderstanding of this concept, I'd be happy to try. I very much appreciate anyone who is willing to take this question on. Again, I'm not trying to get free information for something which is your livelyhood. I could pose the question like: I have a student who is having a difficult time understanding relative minor and relative major scale and the use of CAGED patterns - how do you explain it to your students and why it's important?

But that definitely would be dishonest!

Thanks much - m

Tags: major, minor, note, pattern, relative, root

Views: 173

Replies to This Discussion



It is great to hear you again. First of all. Have a great and safe weekend.


I am very busy, but want to give you some hints about notes "below the Roots".

As I understand your writing. I teach my players,three OCTAVES regradless "Scales or Arpeggios or Modes".

The lower octave ---then the main Octave - then the Higher Octave.

God it hard to explain it here, I have my lessons in multi-dimension table and color code to demonstrate my lessons with html, using the 12 keys block of the table, showing the 3 Octave ranges, so you can see clearly notes above and below the roots or tonics note.


llike strating on the main octave for the c major is

this is the higher Octave >>>    1     2    3   4   5   6   7              
                                                                                                       C    D   E  F  G   A    B

                                             8/1  9/2   10/3  11/4  12/5  13/6  14/7   15/8            

                                              C      D       E         F        G      A       B    this is the main Octave

C     D     E     F     G   A    B

1      2     3     4      5    6    7    this is lower Octave - note below the roots


As I said I can not demonstrate it here, thanks

Michael, I wish you lived at the other end of the state!

As I see it, you need to understand what is commonly called 'The Nashville Numbering System'.  Let me cover it very quickly.  If you get this, what he is teaching you will suddenly become clear.



If we are going to play a song in the key of C, then we need to know what other notes and chords are in the key.

C will be number 1.  Number 1 is also called the Tonic and sometimes called the Root.

The notes in C are C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

So, if C is 1, then D is 2, E is 3 and so on...

So when he tells you that the pentatonic scale is the major scale minus the 4th and 7th, then using this system, you now know that the pentatonic scale for C is C(1), D(2), E(3), G(5), A(6) and the octave C(8).

If you know your fretboard, then you should already know where all these are and be able to play the scale by simply playing these notes.

Got it?

Thanks, Andy - I do understand and thought that was what he meant. I think the confusion comes in when, as we discussed, he moves on to the next lesson when I haven't fully understood the previous one. In other words, if I am doing the exercises for the major scale given different roots I can do the w, w, h, w, w, w, h thing and it's really simple. But then he moves me onto the pentatonic and I understand that I need to omit the 4th and 7th notes but I don't get completing all the notes he wants when I go below the root (which ends up being a lot more than 5 notes, by the way). Is suspect what I need to do is go backward in the progression, treating the lowest root note as an octave, and complete the notes that way.

I do seminars and lecturing the last weekend of each month so I haven't had time to devote to this lately, add to that I am bottling beets, plowing and weeding my garden, and installing wood flooring for an acquaintance... that all adds up to an extremely busy several days! And to make matters worse, I have to go to a stupid BBQ this afternoon (after I make doggie biscuits, of course!).

I'll get an exact example for you in the next couple of days. I do appreciate (VERY MUCH) all the help from everyone here.


My advise is take it easy, make fun out of learning GUITAR


If you don't get to understand something, just go back and review your lesson over again in details.


Thing that you do not use often, seems to be hard to remember and usually make you forget how to do it.

for example you already learn some uncommon scale or modes and hardly using them, eventually you forget how they works. But for example the major scale formula, you use them very often so it is easier to remember the major scale.


Patient, Feed the mind, the brain first -  your Brain control your fingers ---- Not other way around.


The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Give it info, train the mind before the fingers part


It is all in your mind. If you think it hard, it become hard. If you think it is easy, then it will.


Mind over MATTER -


When the Power of love overcomes the love of Power, then the world ...



Good day

OK. At the risk of alienating all of you, here goes. Imagine a fretboard with the E flat notes marked on the 2nd and 5th strings. Here are the instructions:


Complete the Eb Major Pentatonic scale using the "C" type Major Pentatonic scale pattern around the root notes given in the fretboard. Fill in all of the notes in the pattern from the 6th string to the 1st string.

So I go about filling in the notes, making sure to skip where I need to, starting with the 5th string root note already highlighted. I go: whole, whole, skip, whole, whole, skip, half, whole, whole, skip, whole which takes me to the A# (or Bb) note on the 1st string (i.e. from the first Eb root: Eb, F, G, A#, C, Eb, F, G, A#; skipping the G#, D, and G# notes). Now to finish the exercise by completing all 6 strings, I go backward from the lowest Eb root (on the 5th string) and get confused because I cannot relate this to anything I've learned. All I can do is to come up with the following formula: When going in reverse, for the Major Pentatonic scale, it's root, skip the half, whole, whole, skip the half, whole, whole, then I suspect it would be another whole but I haven't had to go that far because it takes me out of the pattern. So, in this case the notes, from the lower root, would be: Eb, C, A#, G; skipping the D and the A.

Is it correct for me to come up with my own pattern, as I have done, to do this or should I be learning something that is escaping me but would allow me to understand why the notes are what they are?

 I can breeze through the exercises but don't get a warm fuzzy about what I've learned or understand.

Thanks again - m

The pattern is meaningless if you are using the formula.  The pattern is based on the formula, not the other way around.  Knowing the pattern only allows you to play the pattern.  This is great for the beginnings, but the formula is your ticket "out of the box" of the pattern.

I have to say, the way this course is teaching this stuff seems more and more backwards, the more you share about it.  Typically, patterns are taught first, because they are easy to visualize and remember.  After the pattern is understood, then the formula that the pattern is based on is explained.

But, that being said, you seem to be understanding it well enough.  The pattern you describe is not a "box" pattern, and that tends to make it more confusing.  Especially since diagonal patterns like that are not usually played with the same fingering going up as they are going down.  Patterns work when you use specific fingering, and if the course is not teaching the optimal fingering, then it is not teaching the pattern very well.

After reading this post, I get the feeling that you have not been given a detailed enough explanation, and you are over-thinking things.  It sounds like you were given a diatonic pattern, then you are asked to use that as a basis for a pentatonic pattern.  The diatonic pattern you were given doesn't include notes on the 6th string, but the exercise is supposed to.  If you are starting on Eb on the 5th string, then you shouldn't need more than two or three notes (maybe four, at the most) to complete the pattern to one more string.  Pentatonic patterns, in general, mostly avoid three notes per string is one of the intervals on that string would be more than a whole step.  Going down from the Eb at the 6th fret, fifth string, would take most patterns to the 8th fret, sixth string (C); then the 6th fret, sixth string (A#); and then stop there.  Going all the way to the G (third fret), is just normally not done.  That's not to say that you can't do it, but it is not "typical".  Three notes per string is extremely common with diatonic patterns, because of the half step intervals.  But, since pentatonic scales don't have any half steps, the typical practice is to only use three notes on a given string when all three notes are a whole step away (none of them 1.5 steps), and it is usually used as a position shift.  Playing a diagonal pattern like this, is actually moving through more than one "box" pattern.

One box pattern won't do what you are asking.


Tell you what, I'll give you my email and you send me a neck diagram of each of the entire major, minor and, pentatonic scales and I'll show you where you are getting confused and why.  You are most assuredly putting the cart before the horse with the lessons you have been telling us about.


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