30-day guitar challenge: Today we look at how you can make the most of your leads. Just like chords, scales can also be played in five CAGED positions across the fretboard. To successfully play solos and melodies over chords, it helps to associate chords and scales with each other.
Put simply, major scales sound good over major chords and minor scales sound good over minor chords. Here, we map out the major and minor scale shapes both from the same root note so that you can compare the two sounds.
The A ‘natural’ minor scale (A B C D E F G) has a cool, dark atmosphere, whereas the A major scale (A B C# D E F# G#) is happier-sounding. These scales exist all over the fretboard, but just like the CAGED chord system, they can be arranged in fi ve manageable chunks, called ‘positions’ or ‘shapes’. It can be hard to spot the chord shapes these scales resemble, so treat this as a longer-term goal.
A major scale shapes
Run through these shapes (download the full chart below), starting on the sixth string and finishing on the first.
It helps if you remember where the root notes are. As the scales feel familiar, try to spot the related barre chord shapes within the notes that form these scales.
A major scale shapes (right-click to download)
A minor scale shapes
Work through the minor scales using the same method as with the major scales.
Memorising all of these shapes is a long-term goal that can take a while, so it is fine to focus on learning one or two shapes until you are comfy with them.
A minor scale shapes (right-click to download)
C major solo
This short, simple solo uses just three scale positions, and will help you start connecting the CAGED shapes together.
The key of C major is three semitones higher than A major, so our solo is based on the same shapes shown above, but three frets higher up the neck.
C major solo tab (right-click to download)
A minor solo
This solo is more challenging, in that it uses all six strings and all five CAGED scale shapes.
Learning the solo in full will help you understand how to navigate the tricky position shifts. Make sure that you also compare the tab with the scale shapes.
A minor solo tab (right-click to download)