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Chord Mastery - Chord Scales


This article uses assumed knowledge of: barre chords derived from CAGED system, Major Scale Composition [WWHWWWWH], and Major Scale Triads with Nashville Notation [ I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - viiº - I ].

When I say “Movable E Shape” this is taking our E chord from CAGED to move and play different chords. Commonly recognized in use as our F chord. This is not an F chord shape however, but a Movable E Shape, just as a Bm on the second fret is considered a “Movable A Shape”.

Level 1 - Chord Scale Along Low E

Starting in the key of either (F) or (G), use the Movable E shape to play your scale. Be sure to use your Major Voicing for I, IV, V of the scale and your Minor Voicing for ii, iii, vi of the scale.

This will will help reinforce your understanding of the Major Scale while helping you navigate up the neck. This introductory chord approach will break us out of those open chord voicings and allow us to play higher pitched chord voicings.


Level 2 - Chord Scale On 2 Strings

Using the key of (G) or (A), use the Movable E shape to play your scale degrees I, ii, iii, then switch to your Movable A shape for scale degrees IV, V, vi, viiº. While this introduces a new voicing, it also allows you to play these chords in a confined region of the neck.

This level allows us to understand the relative movements between I - IV // ii - V // iii - vi. I would also recommend using this system when developing your aural skills (playing what you hear).



Level 3 - Chords Within Scale Positions

Utilizing all five movable chords within the CAGED system, play your chord scales within the boxes of your 5 major scale (pentatonic) positions. It will take some creativity and time, but this will combine your knowledge of scales with that of your chords; no longer confining them within two separate boxes, but seeing how they work in tandem.

This will provide us with incredibly diverse options for our chord voicings as well as open the door to adding our own extended chord tones into our chord voicings using our knowledge of scales. Another bonus is with this understanding, we can incorporate those chord tones (notes of the chord we are playing over) into what we are playing or soloing.



  • Unites the spheres of knowledge between chords and scales

  • Deeper understanding of our instrument

  • Provides alternative outlooks for approaching our instrument

  • Allows us to isolate chords within sonic ranges preferable to our circumstance / band setup

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