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Andrew Cockburn
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

Introduction

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:

Click to view attachment

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):

Click to view attachment

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:

Click to view attachment

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:

Click to view attachment

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:

Click to view attachment

Click to view attachment

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:

Click to view attachment

Click to view attachment

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!
radarlove1984
Great stuff! I've been trying to figure all this out for a while now. I'm jumping ahead a little bit here, but I want to make sure I'm on the right track.

Using the CAGED system, there's 5 ways to play any major scale, AND there's 5 ways to play the standard chords?

For example, playing a Gmaj scale/chord in the shape of C,A,G,E, and D scale/chords, right?
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (radarlove1984 @ Feb 21 2007, 08:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great stuff! I've been trying to figure all this out for a while now. I'm jumping ahead a little bit here, but I want to make sure I'm on the right track.

Using the CAGED system, there's 5 ways to play any major scale, AND there's 5 ways to play the standard chords?

For example, playing a Gmaj scale/chord in the shape of C,A,G,E, and D scale/chords, right?


Exactly - to use the example in the lesson, next we will move to the A shape - and see that we can get a scale and chord of D based on the A shape, and so on up the neck.
Steelkonsum
Cool lesson mate!

I really liked the way you layed it out. Very easy to follow and plenty of illustrations. Very good job!
Kristofer Dahl
Very well laid out - your initiative (you and konsum) is admirable. biggrin.gif You are undoubtly raising the quality of our forum. biggrin.gif
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Feb 25 2007, 04:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Very well laid out - your initiative (you and konsum) is admirable. biggrin.gif You are undoubtly raising the quality of our forum. biggrin.gif


Thanks! Part 2 will be appearing shortly ...
Eat-Sleep-andJam
This was very well done, easy to follow and yet very straight foward. Im Peeing my pants waiting for part 2 over here ! tongue.gif
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (Eat-Sleep-andJam @ Feb 25 2007, 12:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This was very well done, easy to follow and yet very straight foward. Im Peeing my pants waiting for part 2 over here ! tongue.gif


Great, glad you liked it - it makes it all worthwhile when you get some positive feedback! Anyway, your underwear is safe, I just posted part 2!
stratman33
i know ill sound like an idiot, but i never learned how to read those like chord things.i know what it means by it, but i dont know what the difference between the brown and blue dots are.if someone could tell me that would be great. smile.gif
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (stratman33 @ Mar 16 2007, 04:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
i know ill sound like an idiot, but i never learned how to read those like chord things.i know what it means by it, but i dont know what the difference between the brown and blue dots are.if someone could tell me that would be great. smile.gif


All the dots are notes in the scale. The blue dots are the root note. So for instance, in a C major scale, the root note is C, and that would be shown in blue. The same applies to the chords shapes - I picked out the root notes in blue there too.
stratman33
QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Mar 16 2007, 05:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
All the dots are notes in the scale. The blue dots are the root note. SO for instance, in a C major scale, the root note is C, and that would be shown in blue.

ohhhh i gotcha. biggrin.gif
darkxer878
This is a really nice addition to content on these forums. Lots of websites will explain the CAGED system but are requiring you pay a fee.

Any chance we can get this stickied in the theory forum?
Hungus
Sweet lesson Andrew.... I think I understood most of it even though I am so tired I had to reread half of the sentences 3 times lol

Well im going to go to sleep now and let it sink in, hopefully I will wake up with a much greater understanding of the CAGED system and I can start on part 2.
Understudy
Great stuff, I will be on this for a few days lol. It really ties everything together and takes away a lot of the confusion I had. Thanks again for a great lesson Andrew biggrin.gif
DethKlok
Great lesson, thanks. I noticed that in the image of the D Major scale, there's an E missing (second string, 5th fret) and that led to a little confusion. Keep up the good work.
Andrew Cockburn
Oops, sorry about that and well spotted! I don't now if I have the software to go back and fix it though, you'll have to imagine it for now!
SpeeedyT
Hey everyone, check out Bill Edward's Fretboard Logic series. BillEdwards.com He's the inventor of the caged sequence and is book explains it very thoroughly.
MharioX
QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Mar 25 2008, 05:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oops, sorry about that and well spotted! I don't now if I have the software to go back and fix it though, you'll have to imagine it for now!


Hi, this is my first post since I joined GMC, and I have to say that this theory lessons by Andrew (and all posted questions and responses by other members and instructors) are just great. Currently I'm in the third revision (from begining to end) of this lessons and is amazing how my understanding of music and guitar have improved (from zero to an acceptable level wink.gif ).

Keep this excellent Work. Thanks.

By the way, I'm posting an image with the note missing in the D scale chart corrected (not perfect jejeje but at least enough to help others not to get confused)
Andrew Cockburn
Thanks!
Silver Stratocaster
So if I understand correctly, the CAGED system is the idea of barring open scales of C, A, G, E, and D to give you 5 ways to play each major scale on the neck? It's bar chords in a schale form.
kjutte
QUOTE (Silver Stratocaster @ May 7 2009, 11:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So if I understand correctly, the CAGED system is the idea of barring open scales of C, A, G, E, and D to give you 5 ways to play each major scale on the neck? It's bar chords in a schale form.


No, there are just 3 maj scales in the major scale (lol).
However it shows relative keys.

Cmaj Amin Gmaj Emin Dmin.
To know this you need to know the characteristic of each modalbox in the scale, which is Maj min min maj maj min dim. smile.gif
Andrew Cockburn
Actually yes, that is the idea here - different chord shapes equate to different scale boxes so you have several ways to play each scale.

Kjutte's comment above whilst correct is I think related to modes which we are not discussing here.
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