Five Position Thinking
“E”Minor Scale…


This lessons begins your studies of the most widely accapted and used system of scale management. This industry standard system is often called The Caged System or Five Position Thinking. This system of thought enables you to play any scale, anywhere on the neck instead of staying in the limited little box created by only knowing one or two versions of a scale. Knowing the entire range of notes a given scale gives you the ability to play solos that have some growling and funky low notes contrasted by high singing (or screaming!) ones, just like world class guitarists.

C Major Scale Revisited……..

The C Major Scale contains only these notes:

C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C

This is refered to as its spelling. As the diagram as left clearly shows us, member notes of the C Major Scale exist all over the neck, in every position. It should be obvious then that a more effective and complete way of thinking is needed to have a serious and professional understanding of how to play and use scales, of how to playand move all over the entire neck with freedom and confidence.

C Type Fingering Pattern…..

SCX902The Open Position, with common its patterns and fingerings is the basis of Five Position Thinking and advanced level guitar playing. The diagram at left is of course, the basic fingering for a C Major Scale and is one of the best known and most common major scale fingerings. This is because because it’s in the open position -the position that all guitarists learn to think and play in first. as a result of this relationship the all important open position, the C Major Scale pictured at left is called a C TYPE. Five of the major scale patterns we’ve studied in phase one of this course are of paramount importance to the complete understanding and effective use of scales.
The diagram at left shows the C TYPE of a major scale fingering in the key of C. Were this scale pattern to be transposed to another key, that new scale, on a different fret and therefore a different key would still be called a C TYPE of a major scale fingering pattern. This is the first scale in the five position system. The fingering pattern of the C TYPE major scale pattern covers a range of 4 frets, making it a very easy scale to transpose.

A Type Fingering Pattern…..

SCX903The next most logical shape in our Five Position System is the shape associate with the A Major Scale. During our studies of open position scales, the in particular, we transposed the scale one octave to find the most comfortable and practical fingering. In the case of the A Scale the open position fingering pattern needs a little adjustment when playing the new transposed scale, one octave higher. In this course we’ll regard that A Scale, in the 11th position, shown to the far left and bottom of our adjoining diagram, as the A TYPE of fingering pattern. As you transpose the A TYPE scale shape to the key of C, follow the finger indications exactly with no deviation from the suggested fingering numbers. Fingering is one of the keys to learning the coordination and ease of use of the system. In that study of fingering, the two most important and descriptive points concerning our A TYPE of scale pattern are

  • Root On String 5,
  • Begin With Finger 2.
A Type fingering pattern, all notes in position II


G Type Fingering Pattern…..

SCX904The Open Position G Major Scale also transposes easily and cleany up the neck because the majority of the notes fall neatly in one position except for one 4th finger stretch. As we continue to expand Five Position System the true beauty of the concept is emerging. A complete and thorough working knowledge of and orginizational tool for each key in music based on the 5 simple scale shapes you learned in phase 1 of this course. As you play the G TYPE of scale pattern, shown at left in the keys of G and C, associate two important facts with the pattern:

  • Root On String 6,
  • Begin With Finger 4.
G Type fingering pattern, all notes in position V


E Type Fingering Pattern…..

SCX905The E TYPE of moveable scale pattern is once again a little different from its open string counterpart, one octave lower in pitch. This scale shape is one of the most widely known, used and played major scale shapes in all of guitar playing. Remember a big part of the Five Position System is fingering and learning to associate scale sounds with finger movements. With that end in mind think of the E TYPE of moveable scale pattern in this regard:

  • Root On String 6,
  • Begin With Finger 2.
E Type fingering pattern, all notes in position VII


D Type Fingering Pattern…..

SCX906To arrive at what we’re calling the D TYPE of moveable pattern required several adjustments to our open position pattern. The transposed open string D Major scale can fit nicely into the Five Position System of coverage if we include a sixth string low D Root Note along with shifting several notes to their identical twins located on the next thinnest string.

  • Root On String 6.
  • Begin With A Stretch Of Finger 1.
D Type fingering pattern, all notes in position IX


Calling this fingering pattern the D TYPE of moveable pattern is strictly a matter of judgement. The fact that this pattern may be similar to other patterns does not preclude its use here this application to the 5 Position C-A-G-E-D system favored by most professional and serious guitarists.

Guided Practice……
file1Link to animated visualization exercises concerning the Five Position System and its application to the key of C Major.


This lesson is your introduction to the Five Position System that has become the industry standard method for organizing the neck of the guitar. With little or no variation this method is the approach taken by most professional guitar teachers and in big time guitar schools. There are no sound recordings on this page because this lesson is all about VISUALIZATION and working with fingering patterns. Understanding the suggested FINGERING is also of paramount importance to the lesson and to the application of the Five Position System in general. All chord tones have a finger number included drawn in to emphasize the importance of learning and practicing the scales with the proper fingerings.


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