Unlock the guitar neck with the CAGED system!

  • by

I know a lot of guitar players have heard of the CAGED system but ask why do I want to learn it, what’s the benefit? Here’s a short introduction to try to really explain the purpose and use of it for guitar. The CAGED system is probably the number one system you can learn on guitar to be able to play chords and scales all over the neck with out getting lost. Piano is easy to see chords and notes as you are sitting above it looking down, at the keys like an aerial view.

Guitar is more difficult to visualize and see the big picture. That’s where CAGED comes in. When you really understand and have practiced this system you will see the whole gui9tar fretboard as one and chords and scales will become on big picture. Hard to believe but true. Whenever you hear the word CAGED it’s nothing more than a system of chords and scales all over the neck.

Let’s look at how it works. We are going to use the traditional open string chords, sometimes called cowboy chords of the C A G E D system. Let’s take an open C chord. If we refinger that open C chord to create a Barre chord. We’ll barre on the open side of the nut, only cover string E, B and G with your first finger, make sure you are not covering the fret board with the first finger but on the non fret side of the nut and then replace fingers 1,2 and 3 with 2, 3, and 4.

When you have the right hand position then what you want to understand is you will have a moveable chord based of the Root on the 5th string. Your pinky finger should now be covering the root on the 5th string which is C. We are not stuck with one open chord at the first 3 frets. We can move this chord up a fret at a time and whatever note the pinky is on is the name of the chord.

Just a reminder, you will use your index finger to barre strings 321 behind the nut and use fingers 2, 3 and 4 to finger what looks like our everyday C major chord open. If you slide that shape up one fret, since the root is on the 5th string now we have a C# major, which is now a C shape of C#, move up another fret and it’s D major, which is now a C shape of D and you can just keep moving it, it is now moveable. The visual shape of the chord looks like C but as you move, it becomes a different note.

The names of the chords change according to the root but the shape stays the same. Now you can relate an open chord to a moveable Barre chord which really opens up the neck of the guitar fretboard for you. You can do this with each open shape. Take an A shape turn it into a moveable barre. Same thing with G, E and D. This may be a little tricky without pictures but there are tons of videos on this I think that give the idea but it’s not explained clearly the purpose of why we use this system. Later you’ll find out you don’t have to move chords around a lot but stay in one spot and make all your chords. A big advantage to us guitar players.

There is also Major Scale that fits perfectly over this C shape Barre chord. This is just a short introduction to this game changing idea of playing the guitar. Eventually you can play the whole neck seeing how the chords and scales relate to each other positionally. With this system if you know where your chord is then you know where you’re scale is.

Think about it, we learn the guitar in the beginning by chords. Most of us are taught scales by themselves relating to nothing but the position. This system is the best of both worlds, connecting chords and scales as one big picture on the guitar. I hope you can just begin to appreciate the enormous value of this guitar system. It is a long term project, something you probably won’t get in the next 30 days. I break it down for my students to take a doable chunk at a time and be able to use that piece of the puzzle then add another piece. This is probably the main thing that changed my playing from playing at an intermediate level to a more professional level with a higher confidence level. I understood what I was doing and why I was doing it.! This system will transform your guitar playing so you understand how the guitar fretboard really works as one big shape. Get to work and you’ll start to see the benefits and how it transforms your playing!

Keep playing and have fun,