CAGED System For The Blues Scale

Here is the blues boxes for the C-A-G-E-D system and I have tabbed out five boxes for each key. This should be a good starting point for those who want to do lead blues work.

43
I will not say that this will be anything new, but for anyone that wants to do blues lead guitar and solo work this is a must know. I have seen other lessons that show the basics of blues scales, but they are scetches of a larger whole, so I have set down this lesson to try and cover all the bases. The main reason I am posting this lesson is because I am dense and sometimes need things completly spelled out, plus I did all the work to break this down for myself so I might as well share. If you have looked at the C-A-G-E-D method you will be familiar with the idea of scale shapes and "boxes." If you have not read about the C-A-G-E-D method you should go and look at the lesson on this site. I will letter these boxes for those that know the C-A-G-E-D system, but the letters have no bearing on key, they are merely a reference. For the rest of the lesson, though, they will be numbered because that is how I remember them. These boxes are beyond the major and minor boxes that are laid out in the C-A-G-E-D lesson you can find elsewhere on this site, because they are modified to include the blues grace notes. Remember that each one of these boxes is a scale in it's own right. Note: the R stands for the root note of the scale
 Box I (C) Box II (A) Box III (G) Box IV (E)
e|R-|--|--|X-|--| |--|X-|--|X-|X-| |--|X-|X-|X-|--| |X-|--|--|X-|--|
B|X-|--|--|X-|--| |--|X-|--|R-|--| |--|R-|--|--|X-| |--|X-|--|X-|X-|
G|X-|--|X-|X-|--| |X-|X-|X-|--|--| |X-|--|--|X-|--| |X-|--|R-|--|--|
D|X-|--|X-|--|--| |R-|--|--|X-|--| |--|X-|--|X-|X-| |X-|X-|X-|--|--|
A|X-|X-|X-|--|--| |X-|--|--|X-|--| |--|X-|--|R-|--| |R-|--|--|X-|--|
E|R-|--|--|X-|--| |--|X-|--|X-|X-| |--|X-|X-|X-|--| |X-|--|--|X-|--|

 Box V (D)
e|--|X-|--|R-|--|
B|--|X-|X-|X-|--|
G|R-|--|--|X-|--|
D|X-|--|--|X-|--|
A|--|X-|--|X-|X-|
E|--|X-|--|R-|--|
These scale boxes start over every 12 frets so if Box I started on the open fret (0 fret) then Box I would also start on the 12th fret. That means that these boxes actually overlap. They can also be played starting at any box, as long as they are played in order (i.e. V, I, II). This is a layout of all the boxes joined together.
e|R-|--|--|X-|--|X-|X-|X-|--|--|X-|--|R-|--|
B|X-|--|--|X-|--|R-|--|--|X-|--|X-|X-|X-|--|
G|X-|--|X-|X-|X-|--|--|X-|--|R-|--|--|X-|--|
D|X-|--|R-|--|--|X-|--|X-|X-|X-|--|--|X-|--|
A|X-|X-|X-|--|--|X-|--|R-|--|--|X-|--|X-|X-|
E|R-|--|--|X-|--|X-|X-|X-|--|--|X-|--|R-|--|
The key of the scale is determined in the same way as barre chords, in other words the fret that Box I starts with is the key of the scale.
Fret | 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10| 11| 12|
 |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
Key | E | F |F#/| G |G#/| A |A#/| B | C |C#/| D |D#/| E |
 | | |Gb | |AB | |Bb | | |Db | |Eb | |
Now that I have laid out the framework for the scale patterns, I will actually give you the seven basic scales plus the tab for their boxes. To play these tabs as one continuous scale you would play the boxes in order for that key. So, if you wanted to play the whole of the A blues scale you would play Box I, II, III, IV, and then V in the key of A. I have arrainged the scale tabs by key, although I found it easier to learn them in order on the fretboard (i.e. I learned E, then F, then G, etc). The numbers on the fretboard diagrams are for the actual fret it is on so that it is easier to read.
Blues scale in A:
e|-||--|--|3-|--|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|11|12|--|--|15|--|17|--|--|20|--|22|23|24|
B|-||--|--|3-|4-|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|--|--|13|--|15|16|17|--|--|20|--|22|--|--|
G|-||--|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|8-|9-|--|--|12|--|14|--|--|17|--|19|20|21|--|--|24|
D|-||--|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|--|--|10|--|12|13|14|--|--|17|--|19|--|--|22|--|24|
A|-||--|--|3-|--|5-|6-|7-|--|--|10|--|12|--|--|15|--|17|18|19|--|--|22|--|24|
E|-||--|--|3-|--|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|11|12|--|--|15|--|17|--|--|20|--|22|23|24|
Note: for this scale Box V is the lowest on the fretboard
 Box V
E|-------------------------------3-5--|
B|------------------------3-4-5-------|
G|-------------------2-5--------------|
D|--------------2-5-------------------|
A|-------3-5-6------------------------|
E|--3-5-------------------------------|
I went ahead and tabbed this one to illustrate that the scale can start from any box as long as they are played in order. I will leave off the tabs of the boxes before Box I for the rest of the keys.
 Box I
E|-------------------------------5-8--|
B|--------------------------5-8-------|
G|-------------------5-7-8------------|
D|--------------5-7-------------------|
A|-------5-6-7------------------------|
E|--5-8-------------------------------|

 Box II
E|------------------------------------8-10-11--|
B|------------------------------8-10-----------|
G|-----------------------7-8-9-----------------|
D|-----------------7-10------------------------|
A|-----------7-10------------------------------|
E|--8-10-11------------------------------------|

 Box III
E|------------------------------------------10-11-12--|
B|-----------------------------------10-13------------|
G|-----------------------------9-12-------------------|
D|-------------------10-12-13-------------------------|
A|------------10-12-----------------------------------|
E|--10-11-12------------------------------------------|

 Box IV
E|-------------------------------------------12-15--|
B|---------------------------------13-15-16---------|
G|--------------------------12-14-------------------|
D|----------------12-13-14--------------------------|
A|---------12-15------------------------------------|
E|--12-15-------------------------------------------|


 Box V
E|-------------------------------------------15-17--|
B|---------------------------------15-16-17---------|
G|--------------------------14-17-------------------|
D|-------------------14-17--------------------------|
A|---------15-17-18---------------------------------|
E|--15-17-------------------------------------------|

 Box I
E|-------------------------------------------17-20--|
B|------------------------------------17-20---------|
G|--------------------------17-19-20----------------|
D|-------------------17-19--------------------------|
A|---------17-18-19---------------------------------|
E|--17-20-------------------------------------------|
I have also included the second Box I to show how the boxes repeat after 12 frets. Box I started on the 5th fret, so it starts again on the 17th fret.
Blues scale in B:
e|-||--|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|--|--|10|--|12|13|14|--|--|17|--|19|--|--|22|--|24|
B|-||--|--|3-|--|5-|6-|7-|--|--|10|--|12|--|--|15|--|17|18|19|--|--|22|--|24|
G|-||--|2-|--|4-|--|--|7-|--|9-|10|11|--|--|14|--|16|--|--|19|--|21|22|23|--|
D|-||--|2-|3-|4-|--|--|7-|--|9-|--|--|12|--|14|15|16|--|--|19|--|21|--|--|24|
A|-||--|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|8-|9-|--|--|12|--|14|--|--|17|--|19|20|21|--|--|24|
E|-||--|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|--|--|10|--|12|13|14|--|--|17|--|19|--|--|22|--|24|
Note: for this scale Box IV is the lowest on the fretboard
 Box I
E|----------------------------------7-10--|
B|----------------------------7-10--------|
G|--------------------7-9-10--------------|
D|---------------7-9----------------------|
A|--------7-8-9---------------------------|
E|--7-10----------------------------------|

 Box II
E|----------------------------------------10-12-13--|
B|---------------------------------10-12------------|
G|------------------------9-10-11-------------------|
D|------------------9-12----------------------------|
A|------------9-12----------------------------------|
E|--10-12-13----------------------------------------|

 Box III
E|-------------------------------------------12-13-14--|
B|------------------------------------12-15------------|
G|-----------------------------11-14-------------------|
D|-------------------12-14-15--------------------------|
A|------------12-14------------------------------------|
E|--12-13-14-------------------------------------------|

 Box IV
E|-------------------------------------------14-17--|
B|---------------------------------15-17-18---------|
G|--------------------------14-16-------------------|
D|----------------14-15-16--------------------------|
A|---------14-17------------------------------------|
E|--14-17-------------------------------------------|

 Box V
E|-------------------------------------------17-19--|
B|---------------------------------17-18-19---------|
G|--------------------------16-19-------------------|
D|-------------------16-19--------------------------|
A|---------17-19-20---------------------------------|
E|--17-19-------------------------------------------|


Blues scale in C:
e|-||1-|2-|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|--|--|11|--|13|14|15|--|--|18|--|20|--|--|23|--|
B|-||1-|--|--|4-|--|6-|7-|8-|--|--|11|--|13|--|--|16|--|18|19|20|--|--|23|--|
G|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|11|12|--|--|15|--|17|--|--|20|--|22|23|24|
D|-||1-|--|3-|4-|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|--|--|13|--|15|16|17|--|--|20|--|22|--|--|
A|-||1-|--|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|9-|10|--|--|13|--|15|--|--|18|--|20|21|22|--|--|
E|-||1-|2-|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|--|--|11|--|13|14|15|--|--|18|--|20|--|--|23|--|
Note: for this scale Box III is the lowest on the fretboard
 Box I
E|-------------------------------------8-11--|
B|-------------------------------8-11--------|
G|----------------------8-10-11--------------|
D|----------------8-10-----------------------|
A|--------8-9-10-----------------------------|
E|--8-11-------------------------------------|

 Box II
E|-------------------------------------------11-13-14--|
B|------------------------------------11-13------------|
G|--------------------------10-11-12-------------------|
D|-------------------10-13-----------------------------|
A|------------10-13------------------------------------|
E|--11-13-14-------------------------------------------|

 Box III
E|-------------------------------------------13-14-15--|
B|------------------------------------13-16------------|
G|-----------------------------12-15-------------------|
D|-------------------13-15-16--------------------------|
A|------------13-15------------------------------------|
E|--13-14-15-------------------------------------------|

 Box IV
E|-------------------------------------------15-18--|
B|---------------------------------16-18-19---------|
G|--------------------------15-17-------------------|
D|----------------15-16-17--------------------------|
A|---------15-18------------------------------------|
E|--15-18-------------------------------------------|

 Box V
E|-------------------------------------------18-20--|
B|---------------------------------18-19-20---------|
G|--------------------------17-20-------------------|
D|-------------------17-20--------------------------|
A|---------18-20-21---------------------------------|
E|--18-20-------------------------------------------|


Blues scale in D:
e|-||1-|--|3-|4-|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|--|--|13|--|15|16|17|--|--|20|--|22|--|--|
B|-||1-|--|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|9-|10|--|--|13|--|15|--|--|18|--|20|21|22|--|--|
G|0||1-|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|--|--|10|--|12|13|14|--|--|17|--|19|--|--|22|--|24|
D|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|6-|7-|--|--|10|--|12|--|--|15|--|17|18|19|--|--|22|--|24|
A|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|11|12|--|--|15|--|17|--|--|20|--|22|23|24|
E|-||1-|--|3-|4-|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|--|--|13|--|15|16|17|--|--|20|--|22|--|--|
Note: for this scale Box II is the lowest on the fretboard
 Box I
E|-------------------------------------------10-13--|
B|------------------------------------10-13---------|
G|--------------------------10-12-13----------------|
D|-------------------10-12--------------------------|
A|---------10-11-12---------------------------------|
E|--10-13-------------------------------------------|

 Box II
E|-------------------------------------------13-15-16--|
B|------------------------------------13-15------------|
G|--------------------------12-13-14-------------------|
D|-------------------12-15-----------------------------|
A|------------12-15------------------------------------|
E|--13-15-16-------------------------------------------|

 Box III
E|-------------------------------------------15-16-17--|
B|------------------------------------15-18------------|
G|-----------------------------14-17-------------------|
D|-------------------15-17-18--------------------------|
A|------------15-17------------------------------------|
E|--15-16-17-------------------------------------------|

 Box IV
E|-------------------------------------------17-20--|
B|---------------------------------18-20-21---------|
G|--------------------------17-19-------------------|
D|----------------17-18-19--------------------------|
A|---------17-20------------------------------------|
E|--17-20-------------------------------------------|

 Box V
E|-------------------------------------------20-22--|
B|---------------------------------20-21-22---------|
G|--------------------------19-22-------------------|
D|-------------------19-22--------------------------|
A|---------20-22-23---------------------------------|
E|--20-22-------------------------------------------|


Blues Scale in E:
e|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|6-|7-|--|--|10|--|12|--|--|15|--|17|18|19|--|--|20|--|24|
B|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|11|12|--|--|15|--|17|--|--|20|--|22|23|24|
G|0||--|2-|3-|4-|--|--|7-|--|9-|--|--|12|--|14|15|16|--|--|19|--|21|--|--|24|
D|0||--|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|8-|9-|--|--|12|--|14|--|--|17|--|19|20|21|--|--|24|
A|0||1-|2-|--|--|5-|--|7-|--|--|10|--|12|13|14|--|--|17|--|19|--|--|22|--|24|
E|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|6-|7-|--|--|10|--|12|--|--|15|--|17|18|19|--|--|22|--|24|
Note: for this scale Box I is the lowest on the fretboard
 Box I 
e|--------------------------------0-3---|
B|---------------------------0-3--------|
G|--------------------0-2-3-------------|
D|---------------0-2--------------------|
A|--------0-1-2-------------------------|
E|--0--3--------------------------------|

 Box II 
e|-------------------------------3-5-6--|
B|--------------------------3-5---------|
G|-------------------2-3-4--------------|
D|--------------2-5---------------------|
A|---------2-5--------------------------|
E|--3-5-6-------------------------------|

 Box III 
e|-------------------------------5-6-7--|
B|--------------------------5-8---------|
G|---------------------4-7--------------|
D|--------------5-7-8-------------------|
A|---------5-7--------------------------|
E|--5-6-7-------------------------------|

 Box IV 
e|-----------------------------------7-10---|
B|--------------------------8-10-11---------|
G|---------------------7-9------------------|
D|--------------7-8-9-----------------------|
A|--------7-10------------------------------|
E|--7-10------------------------------------|

 Box V 
e|-----------------------------------------10-12--|
B|-------------------------------10-11-12---------|
G|-------------------------9-12-------------------|
D|-------------------9-12-------------------------|
A|---------10-12-13-------------------------------|
E|--10-12-----------------------------------------|


Blues scale in F:
e|-||1-|--|--|4-|--|6-|7-|8-|--|--|11|--|13|--|--|16|--|18|19|20|--|--|23|--|
B|-||1-|--|--|4-|--|6-|--|--|9-|--|11|12|13|--|--|16|--|18|--|--|21|--|23|24|
G|-||1-|--|3-|4-|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|--|--|13|--|15|16|17|--|--|20|--|22|--|--|
D|-||1-|--|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|9-|10|--|--|13|--|15|--|--|18|--|20|21|22|--|--|
A|-||1-|2-|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|--|--|11|--|13|14|15|--|--|18|--|20|--|--|23|--|
E|-||1-|--|--|4-|--|6-|7-|8-|--|--|11|--|13|--|--|16|--|18|19|20|--|--|23|--|
Note: for this scale Box I is the lowest on the fretboard
 Box I
E|-------------------------------1-4--|
B|--------------------------1-4-------|
G|-------------------1-3-4------------|
D|--------------1-3-------------------|
A|-------1-2-3------------------------|
E|--1-4-------------------------------|

 Box II
E|-------------------------------4-6-7--|
B|--------------------------4-6---------|
G|-------------------3-4-5--------------|
D|--------------3-6---------------------|
A|---------3-6--------------------------|
E|--4-6-7-------------------------------|

 Box III
E|-------------------------------6-7-8--|
B|--------------------------6-9---------|
G|---------------------5-8--------------|
D|--------------6-8-9-------------------|
A|---------6-8--------------------------|
E|--6-7-8-------------------------------|

 Box IV
E|-------------------------------------8-11--|
B|----------------------------9-11-12--------|
G|----------------------8-10-----------------|
D|--------------8-9-10-----------------------|
A|--------8-11-------------------------------|
E|--8-11-------------------------------------|

 Box V
E|-------------------------------------------11-13--|
B|---------------------------------11-12-13---------|
G|--------------------------10-13-------------------|
D|-------------------10-13--------------------------|
A|---------11-13-14---------------------------------|
E|--11-13-------------------------------------------|

Blues scale in G:
e|-||1-|--|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|9-|10|--|--|13|--|15|--|--|18|--|20|21|22|--|--|
B|-||1-|2-|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|--|--|11|--|13|14|15|--|--|18|--|20|--|--|23|--|
G|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|6-|7-|--|--|10|--|12|--|--|15|--|17|18|19|--|--|22|--|24|
D|0||--|--|3-|--|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|11|12|--|--|15|--|17|--|--|20|--|22|23|24|
A|-||1-|--|3-|4-|5-|--|--|8-|--|10|--|--|13|--|15|16|17|--|--|20|--|22|--|--|
E|-||1-|--|3-|--|--|6-|--|8-|9-|10|--|--|13|--|15|--|--|18|--|20|21|22|--|--|
Note: for this scale Box V is the lowest on the fretboard
 Box I
E|-------------------------------3-6--|
B|--------------------------3-6-------|
G|-------------------3-5-6------------|
D|--------------3-5-------------------|
A|-------3-4-5------------------------|
E|--3-6-------------------------------|

 Box II
E|-------------------------------6-8-9--|
B|--------------------------6-8---------|
G|-------------------5-6-7--------------|
D|--------------5-8---------------------|
A|---------5-8--------------------------|
E|--6-8-9-------------------------------|

 Box III
E|-------------------------------------8-9-10--|
B|-------------------------------8-11----------|
G|-------------------------7-10----------------|
D|----------------8-10-11----------------------|
A|----------8-10-------------------------------|
E|--8-9-10-------------------------------------|

 Box IV
E|-------------------------------------------10-13--|
B|---------------------------------11-13-14---------|
G|--------------------------10-12-------------------|
D|----------------10-11-12--------------------------|
A|---------10-13------------------------------------|
E|--10-13-------------------------------------------|

 Box V
E|-------------------------------------------13-15--|
B|---------------------------------13-14-15---------|
G|--------------------------12-15-------------------|
D|-------------------12-15--------------------------|
A|---------13-15-16---------------------------------|
E|--13-15-------------------------------------------|
There you go, all 7 keys of blues scales tabbed out for your enjoyment. I hope this makes the learning of the fretboard go a bit easier for all you blues greats in training. Have fun and keep those fingers bleeding.

48 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    brax95
    no supea, I graduated in 95.... yes jtbull, it is just like a bar chord...the same "root" fret as the bar is where the scale will start with box 1
    DEATHbyBLOOD
    hmm, i wonder if the person who wrote this read the fretboard logic series. awesome information, dude.
    donleejr
    this lesson was great,, this really helped break down a scale for meand to understand how to work through the neck using one,, i appreciate you taking the time
    Alix Withani
    GRRR!!! I just spent an hour figuring it out myself d'oh! I just came on here to put it on if no-one else had. An hour of my life... wasted! Still, I feel happier knowing someone wrote a more helpful lesson on it than i had intended to write.
    supea
    Don't say you are born in '95 :OOO You're like.... young :O Or maybe just some random numbers in the end of your nickname!
    jtbull
    so its just like a barre chord I can change the key by moving the fret
    neo14085
    wow awesome!!! im quite a beginner, and this helped a lot : ive only played for about 8 months and im glad i learned these, as for i love blues and rock
    tortillaconcern
    OH! oh I see said the blind man pissing into the wind... its all coming back to me. it all makes so much sense now. THANKS!
    avatar ang
    I scrape the barnacles off my boat with a sack of grapes.....maybe that will help...
    cilaes
    I never can understand the 2nd box. Why even include it? Isn't it just a type of "Merge-point" for 1 and 3?
    jay_birdy
    because of this i can play the fret board and not sound aweful. because of this lesson i can play individual notes and sound great. thank you so so much
    southernstyle93
    this is the best explaination of the CAGED system i've ever seen. great job and thanks for puttin this on here
    brax95
    dustyboy316: you use the same key as the song is played in....so if your chords are G, C, D you would be playing in the key of G and would use a G scale.....from that point I just play within the scale and try to hit notes that are related to the chord currently being played by the rhythm.....
    Little Angus
    this is still confusing to me. It was a good lesson but I need a more in depth lesson.
    Peanut1614
    Looks good, i knew it aleady but clearly explained for beginners. youve left out a root note though on the D string in the 1st diagram 3rd fret
    burning_snowman
    Good lesson. I already knew about the CAGED method before this, but all the different diargrams would do a good job explaining it to anyone who didn't know it. Scale tones would have been nice, though.
    hurlyz
    It's very good but you should at least "show" where the b5 (blues note) on the diagrams is as it's one of the most important notes in the blues scale.. aside from the root maybe! Or maybe even all the scale tones?? Anyways, great job!
    _timbo_
    signed up so i could say a big thanks for this lesson. i've been playing guitar for a few years now, and this has been the most help on the blues i've ever had! cheers!
    dustyboy316
    Good article. How do you know which key to use though? (a link to another article is fine, I just don't get how to correctly apply this... But I also didn't understand how the scales work until now).
    esp_dsp
    wicked for noobs to the soloing world i learned this last year but i forgot some of it! good refresher lol
    gokorn1
    now what does this do for me im lost i know all this but how do i go about playing or creating music with this
    Gucunja
    OK... lesson is neat, nicely done! But, I have a suggestion: If u want to learn any (and i really mean ANY) d-load GuitarPro Nice peace of software, trust me!
    mrmac
    Only problem with learning the CAGED system is that your "caging" yourself into these damned figures. I think they are better used as a contextual aid while playing UP and DOWN the next in key... not just across the neck. Decent lesson...
    MrWannabe
    Thanks for the great lesson. The only thing 'dodgy' is the grey text on black background! Once it's in black and white, the diagrams are great!
    bcollin
    I just don't get it, I must be dum or too basic how can you tell where the box start? On which fret?? b