Caged, Part 1 - Introduction and the C Shape
Andrew Cockburn
Feb 22 2007, 12:50 AM
Moderation Policy Director
Posts: 10.459
Joined: 6-February 07
From: CT, USA
Hi everyone - this is the CAGED lesson I promised - part 1 of 2. I hope it is helpful, and welcome any feedback at all smile.gif


So what is CAGED, I hear you ask. In this first lesson we will answer that question, and more importantly start to understand what the CAGED system does for us and how we can use it to be better players at both rhythm and lead guitar. We will also explore the first of the CAGED patterns. The second part of the lesson will look at the remaining CAGED shapes.

Before we go any further, I suggest you review my lesson on Major Scales if you are not familiar with this subject. This lesson is really a follow up to that earlier lesson, in which we learnt how major scales were made up and that there are several different places up and down the neck that they can be played.

So What is it?

Simply stated the CAGED system is a framework to hang your understanding of the different major scales and associated chords on. There are 2 main parts - first, a selection of scales, and second some associated chord shapes that work in the same position as the scales. Knowing the scales will leave you able to play lead melodies up and down the neck, knowing associated chords will vastly broaden the options you have for voicing chords - you will no longer be stuck with just a couple of power chords and the standard open shapes!

A Mystery Solved

So why is it called CAGED? Well for a couple of reasons. Firstly, musical theorists like to give mysterious names to things so that something that is really very simple sounds more complex and technical! A better reason is that CAGED is an acronym for the associated chord shapes that we are basing the scales around as we move up the neck of the guitar - the chord of C, the chord of A etc. At this point, it is important to point out that there is a difference between the scale shape we use, and the actual scale that this makes. As a quick example, if we play a scale of C based around the C shape (which we will see shortly), then move it up 2 frets, it becomes a scale of D, but the scale shape remains the same (it is still the C shape). We would say that we are playing a scale of D, using the C shape. Think about that for a little while if you are confused - this is the key to CAGED.

Throughout this lesson and the next we will be working with a scale of D Major. There is nothing special about this but we have to start somewhere, and D works nicely as an example for our first scale. An important part of the CAGED system is that you understand and can work out the easiest way of playing a given scale. So, if for instance you wanted to play a scale of E, your could use any of the scales covered here, but just move them up 2 frets. The key is to locate the base note of the scale, which is marked in all of the diagrams, then move it up or down the neck so that it becomes the note of the scale you want, then use the shape as your scale. CAGED gives you many different options to find a scale that suits where you are playing on the neck.

Our First Scale - the C shape

Ok, enough talk, let's see some action. Our first scale is based on the C shape. What do we mean by this? Well, a standard open C chord looks like this:

Attached Image

If we build a scale around that C chord, using the notes in the chord and interspersing the correct notes according the major formula we learnt about in the Major scale lesson, we end up with a scale that looks like this (you should recognize this shape as one of the major scales covered in the previous lesson):

Attached Image

From now on, we are going to refer to this as our C scale shape for reasons which I hope are now obvious! As you can see, the notes we had in the C chord itself are all there, and we have added the additional notes in between the notes in the chord to make up a full major scale.

Now, suppose we want to play the scale of D that we mentioned earlier - and still use this shape. Well, D is 2 semitones or frets up from C, so we would use a scale that looked like this:

Attached Image

You can see that this is exactly the same shape of notes (except that the open strings are now no longer open, they are played at the 2nd fret). We can now play a scale of D using the C shape!

But there is more - remember CAGED is also going to help us to find chords. We can use the same trick of sliding up a couple of frets with our chord as well. We can take our open C chord, and play it like this:

Attached Image

It then becomes a chord of D, played as the C shape. To actually play this, you would bar the 2nd fret with your index finger - check out Kris' lesson on Barre chords if you aren't familiar with this technique. Technically, the F# on the bottom E string is part of the scale and can be played, but it sounds better if you don't, allowing the D played on the 5th string to be the root of the chord.

But that's not all - it would be pretty boring playing a song using just the chord of D, so how can we add to this? Well, let's look at a few common chords in the key of C, since we are still looking at the C in the CAGED system. I'm thinking of F and G - these are important chords in the key of C, closely related to the chord of C itself, and you can play a heck of a lot of songs using just these three chords. We can apply exactly the same principles to F and G when we start using the CAGED system, to give us some extra chord options. Basic F and G chords look like this:

Attached Image

Attached Image

In our key of D (2 frets up remember), the associated chords would be G and A. Using the C shape of CAGED, working with the key of D, which we now understand means moving up 2 frets, means that we can play G and A using exactly the same chord shapes, just moved up a couple of frets, like this:

Attached Image

Attached Image

This last one is a little tough to play; once again, we would use a bar on the 2nd fret with our index finger, and use the index middle and pinkie to play the 3 additional notes.

The same is also true for any other chords in the key of C - we can move them up 2 frets to get the equivalent chords in the key of D - this is a very powerful way of enriching our chord vocabulary.

Moving Up

It doesn't stop there - in the 2nd part of this series we will be looking at the rest of the scales - the AGED in CAGED! We will see that not only are there more ways of playing the same scale, but also a corresponding plethora of new chord shapes we can use.

I hope you enjoyed part one - let me know!

You are at

Don't miss today's free lick. Plus all our lessons are packed with free content!

Don't miss today's free blues, jazz & country licks. Plus all our lessons are packed with free content!

This post has been edited by Andrew Cockburn: Jul 6 2007, 12:21 AM

Check out my Instructor profile
Live long and prosper ...

My Stuff:

Electric Guitars : Ibanez Jem7v, Line6 Variax 700, Fender Plus Strat with 57/62 Pickups, Line6 Variax 705 Bass
Acoustic Guitars : Taylor 816ce, Martin D-15, Line6 Variax Acoustic 300 Nylon
Effects : Line6 Helix, Keeley Modded Boss DS1, Keeley Modded Boss BD2, Keeley 4 knob compressor, Keeley OxBlood
Amps : Epiphone Valve Jnr & Head, Cockburn A.C.1, Cockburn A.C.2, Blackstar Club 50 Head & 4x12 Cab
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Posts in this topic
- Andrew Cockburn   Caged   Feb 22 2007, 12:50 AM
- - radarlove1984   Great stuff! I've been trying to figure al...   Feb 22 2007, 02:18 AM
|- - Andrew Cockburn   QUOTE (radarlove1984 @ Feb 21 2007, 08:18...   Feb 22 2007, 02:21 AM
|- - Steelkonsum   Cool lesson mate! I really liked the way you ...   Feb 22 2007, 12:12 PM
- - Kristofer Dahl   Very well laid out - your initiative (you and kons...   Feb 25 2007, 10:36 AM
|- - Andrew Cockburn   QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Feb 25 2007, 04:3...   Feb 25 2007, 03:32 PM
|- - Eat-Sleep-andJam   This was very well done, easy to follow and yet ve...   Feb 25 2007, 06:05 PM
||- - Andrew Cockburn   QUOTE (Eat-Sleep-andJam @ Feb 25 20...   Feb 25 2007, 06:20 PM
|- - Silver Stratocaster   So if I understand correctly, the CAGED system is ...   May 7 2009, 10:10 PM
|- - kjutte   QUOTE (Silver Stratocaster @ May 7 2009, 11...   May 9 2009, 02:18 PM
|- - Andrew Cockburn   Actually yes, that is the idea here - different ch...   May 18 2009, 06:43 PM
- - stratman33   i know ill sound like an idiot, but i never learne...   Mar 16 2007, 09:49 PM
|- - Andrew Cockburn   QUOTE (stratman33 @ Mar 16 2007, 04:49 PM...   Mar 16 2007, 10:00 PM
|- - stratman33   QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Mar 16 2007, 05...   Mar 16 2007, 10:01 PM
- - darkxer878   This is a really nice addition to content on these...   Apr 18 2007, 04:33 PM
- - Hungus   Sweet lesson Andrew.... I think I understood most ...   Jul 26 2007, 03:13 PM
- - Understudy   Great stuff, I will be on this for a few days lol....   Sep 18 2007, 09:47 AM
- - DethKlok   Great lesson, thanks. I noticed that in the image ...   Mar 25 2008, 04:40 AM
|- - Andrew Cockburn   Oops, sorry about that and well spotted! I don...   Mar 25 2008, 12:35 PM
|- - MharioX   QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Mar 25 2008, 05...   Jan 11 2009, 06:20 PM
|- - Andrew Cockburn   Thanks!   Apr 1 2009, 08:49 PM
- - SpeeedyT   Hey everyone, check out Bill Edward's Fretboar...   Nov 18 2008, 08:29 AM

Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:


RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 26th October 2020 - 05:32 PM