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Joined: 23 Jun 2008
Lessons: 4
Karma: 35

CAGED system

by Empirism

21 Jan 2009
Views: 18265

Hi, I started to make this lesson for myself and I wish to share it with others who have feeling to being "stuck" on somewhere on guitar learning process. I could describe my state of learning as an dude middle in forest and have not a friggin' idea where to go next. During my wandering I found the thing called CAGED system. Studying it a little, I started to realize that this is it. This is what I was looking for to actually improve my playing from mindless scalereaping up and down without any sense what I am doing to soloing with an right touch and well constructed solos.

Aight lets get to the point. CAGED system is an method that helps to know major chord notes anywhere on the neck. Why we want it? Scales are good for soloing, but what notes sound perfect with the music? Well, notes that are in the current chord. Knowing the note and chord locations on the neck help you use them while soloing and remembering where those notes and chord locations are in the neck, CAGED system is handy as hell.

Lets see,

Here you see C A G E and D major chords, study root notes of those chords (you can use this site chord tool for that if you have hard time figure them) and study the shapes of them.

Now, cause of my poor picture handling as you see above, I couldnt get the picture where we must put those chord shapes partly over earlier chord shape. Its not hard to imagine, Imagine that those notes that are not on fretboard (open notes) goes over the last notes of the earlier chords. Get the picture? If not, use google about caged system and I think there could be images to explain it better. These shapes can found anywhere on the neck.

I think it would be too cool, if we someday get a tool for it? Admin? ^_~, Aight let not bother master anymore :P

Aight, how to practise? Ive been studying it for while now, Its a partly easy, partly hard and it WILL take a time. But im sure its worth of it. So practise slowly, I started to learn it by shape by shape, learn root notes, learn shape and learn notes. After I study all of them I start over.

Minor and seventh chords are the different story, bear that in mind.

So I hope this helps you even realize more, if not... then... not.

As I mentioned, I made this lesson partly for my own learning so any corrections, addons, notes, ideas, visions, U.F.Os you have are highly accepted. Thanks for reading.




finally someone did this i would but my writing skills suck. but the key is to turn them into positions. know the positions better suited for melody and harmony. then learn all the chords with in each Box/position for example, A box in the key of C has

Grip shape/chord
C/ d minor
A/ b7b5 and c major
G/ a minor
E/ g major
D/ e minor and f major

great lesson now if only some one could do a lesson on the simple 12 triads


12 triads? once you know one shape you just have to know the root and move it up or down to get the chord you want. you should really know 4 different triads: major, minor, diminished, and augmented.

and btw you gotta be carefull what chords you put together if your gonna solo. if you but a Emajor followed by a Am, well thats ok, but remember you would be in A harmonic minor and not just any another scale. and if you were to put D and E together, you would be in A major. thats why you should know the full scale. which isn't that hard once it sticks in your head. if your not gonna solo to it, i just say go with what sounds good and think about theory later.


This is quite helpful, thank you. I never understood what the CAGED system was until now.


also. isnt there a CAGED system for minor chords


there is 12 simple triads meaning (simple being used as triads using consecutive strings) three different inversions and four different shapes 3*4=12. then like you said there is four different triads in western music major,minor,diminished, and augmented.
the CAGED system (and to a certain extent the way in which I'm talking about triads at the moment) isn't about major,minor nor any other harmonic value it is about one of the natural layouts of the guitar tuned in fourths with the major third leap.



Yes there are and for seventh's also... though Im still learning just majors so Im not able to help with those just yet.


the CAGED system has nothing(will i really can't say nothing but the point has nothing) to do with harmonic values. what your talking about is arpeggios now.

look at Justin Sandercoe's lesson on it at
- -
it is under "the basics" TB-031 to TB-036

he has a little thing on simple triads but he only talks about the "soprano" triads and is using them musically where I'm talking about them to understand how the guitar works. that and you get to understand polychords which are nuts.


poly chords? are those like two chords in one or something?


btw, why don't you just learn to harmonize a scale rather than the whole caged theme. i'm not dissing it or anything, I just don't really see what it's all about.


Taylor, polychords are kind of harmony, where two chords are over each. I think there can be more than two also.

Ive understood that there are seven polychords in a key.


polychords is when a chord is broken down to it's basics. there can be lot of theory involve but simply it is when one person plays this and a another plays that and they form something new harmonically speaking or course. for example C major 9 (C(1),E(3), G(5),B(7),D(9)) is C major (C(1),E(3), G(5)) and G Major (G(1),B(3&7),D(5&9)). thus I plus V equals I9. it's a way at looking at chords and can be used for many things(counterpoint) but it would be near imposable for me to enplane it fully over a forum.

"why don't you just learn to harmonize a scale rather than the whole caged theme"
i'm sorry i don't understand

the CAGED system is one of the natural formats of a guitar in standard tuning. it is to help you see how the guitar works it has nothing(again i can't say nothing) to do with melodic or harmonic formulas. it point is understand the lay out. so if some one says play over lets say standard 12 bar blues in Eb you would know exactly where to play and what note does what. and if someone said play this scale and gave you the intervals you would know where is all is because you know all the steps. it is a form of position playing


i get what you saying about harmonizing. the answer is it is not the point of the CAGED system again it is a formant the guitar is in and it is the easiest i have learned.


well put. and C13 would be like 7 chords in one.. right? i'm studying about all the stuff (including counter point) right now with these books I got from the library XD


C13 would contain all the triads in the key of F but there not saying it can't be C9 and F major or C Major, G minor, and Fmajor. it starts to get funky now hun. but reminder you need to keep them in there respective octave ranges C major need to be in the base and so on to F major need to be the soprano. you can't mess that up because you going to start getting into homonym chords.

And remember this has a lot involve to much for me to teach you(that and i don't know it) over the Internet don't jump steps or over-look anything. and the concept of ploychords is really the concept voices when you think about. It is just the guitar is a chordal instrument think about this while in the violin family shoes. that and the four aspects of sound come into the picture more now too.

what books did you get form the library(lucky you all my libraries in the surrounding areas had **** in em)? to get a good beginning start at the understanding of chords i recommend "Chord chemistry" by Ted Greene(you need to have your basic theory down and only one section needs you to read dots)


oh yea i have basic theory down pretty well. I got: "Melody and Harmony I and II", "Counterpoint", "Advanced Harmony", and "Orchestration". All this from a library that wasn't so big, once I finished these books along with my jazz theory book i'm gonna move on to the study of fugue, sonata form, and more on orchestration and conducting.


and i'm open to any other recommendations you might have for me.


Great reading. Sure to be a best seller. Rock on


Excellent lesson. But it would have been really easy to identify the 3s and 5s in this caged system also.


This method has helped me plenty and I recommend anyone to use it.

Not to outshine this wonderful lesson but here is a very very good explanation of the CAGED system and how it works.

Very simple concept but very effective to learn the neck


R Loyd's "Ed Cag" anyone?

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