I'm just using the CAGED system as a reference to talk about shapes here.


I will take the shape formed with A and G to explain myself here. I understand that the shape will fall in different places of the fretboard depending on the key note, but is the root note always in the same position of the shapes?

At first I thought so but then I see different charts at the internet and it seems that it doesn't. For example, in this chart, it says that the root will fall in the first note of the G shape.

BUT for example, in the minor A pentatonic scale, the G shape will have the root note on other note, because the root note will fall in the 5th fret of sixth string (A).


So in this case, the first diagram is wrong, because in the A minor pentatonic scale the root note is not that one.

Then, is it right that the root note doesn't always fall in the same place given a shape? what it depends on? maybe if it's minor, major, aeolian, dorian, or whatever type? Maybe depending on the type of scale, the shape will fall in a different place, and hence, the root key will fall at a different place in the shape.

After having said this, I would appreciate if someone can lead me to a good reference into understanding more the logic behind all this.


3 Answers 3


There are a few things to keep in mind concerning your question.

The first is pretty basic: when properly tuned, the notes on the guitar do not move around, they stay at their designated fret. If you know the notes on the fret board and where to find them, they will only move if you change to a chosen open tuning.

This realization that the notes don't move means that the root notes also don't move. That means we need to know the fret and string location of the root note in which ever fingering pattern we choose to play whichever scale we choose to play.

The root note in a Major scale will be located at the same fret and string as a Minor scale on the fretboard, but the fingering pattern will be different for Major and Minor Scales.

When we start to branch out into pentatonic Major and Minor scales the same thing applies: the chosen root note location on the fretboard does not change, it is the fingering pattern that changes, and each fingering pattern has its root positioned in its own individual place, different from the other fingering patterns.

We must know the notes and their positions on the fretboard and we must know the fingering patterns and where the root notes are located in that fingering pattern and then we must match the two together in order to play the scales we want to use.

I sincerely hope I haven't added to your confusion.


I would like to expand on @Tim’s answer by also pointing out that the way these 5 shapes overlap in this diagram make them all the same chord relative to their position. What I mean is, let’s say that the first fret row on the far left is actually the open strings. If that is the case then all of these chords are a C chord. From left to right you have an open C chord, a C chord with an A shape barred at fret 3, a G shape barred at fret 5, an E shape barred at fret 8 and a D shape barred at fret 10.

Regarding your pentatonic scale example since these are all major chords you should compare it to a major pentatonic, not minor. In your diagram the C major pentatonic is the relative major and has the same notes as your A minor pentatonic scale. I used your diagram and superimposed the C major pentatonic scale over it. Green are roots, blue are chord tones and red are non-chord tones. You can see that this scale contains the G shape. I marked the chord with black dots.

enter image description here

For now I would shelve talk of modes or other scales since your diagram is only a representation of major chord tones and pentatonic scale notes.

  • Never worked out how CAGED worked with reference to minor scales. In fact, never really bothered with CAGED apart from reference to chord shapes. And - is it worth explaining the similarity between maj. pent. and min. pent. shapes..? Aaah - I think you did that!!
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 17:56
  • @Tim, oops, I think I did! Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 18:35

The point of the CAGED system is that there are 5 different shapes on guitar, each corresponding to C, A, G, E and D. Taking just one shape,(C), it's movable up the neck, and the shape stays the same. So the root note is wherever it is , relative to all the other notes.

Obviously, with a change of shape to, say, A, then the root is wherever that is in that shape. And so on. If that's what you ask!

  • 1
    Thanks a lot for your answer! So it depends on the scale we're at if a specific shape will fall sooner or later in the fretboard, is this correct?
    – alesegdia
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 17:42
  • 1
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 17:52

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