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Overview of The CAGED System – Lesson 23

Lesson by: SynGates.com

Brian Haner Sr.

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Mind blown!
Right?! I had known how the fretboard worked for many years through trial and error, but I never really put it all together until I was introduced to the CAGED System. Some people don't like it, or just pick bits and pieces of it to use. But if you study it long enough, you come to one conclusion - it IS how the fretboard is laid out. It can only be connected one way - and this is it.
 

Ids Schiere

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Right?! I had known how the fretboard worked for many years through trial and error, but I never really put it all together until I was introduced to the CAGED System. Some people don't like it, or just pick bits and pieces of it to use. But if you study it long enough, you come to one conclusion - it IS how the fretboard is laid out. It can only be connected one way - and this is it.
If I'm completely honest, I learned the fretboard entirely by applying the CAGED system. It really shows where all the notes are in the fretboard and I think it's probably one of the most fundamentally important things to learn when you learn how to play the guitar 😅
 

chris_is_cool

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Right?! I had known how the fretboard worked for many years through trial and error, but I never really put it all together until I was introduced to the CAGED System. Some people don't like it, or just pick bits and pieces of it to use. But if you study it long enough, you come to one conclusion - it IS how the fretboard is laid out. It can only be connected one way - and this is it.
After playing for only 1 year, I definitely find myself in the "bits and pieces" camp.

The first mindblowing realization I got from CAGED was: Every (!!) shape on the guitar is movable. Sure, if it's a 4 finger open chord, you will need a capo, but for every 3 finger shape, go nuts with your bar chords. So we can use this to play every chord in every shape everywhere on the fretboard. Move an A chord up a minor third -> C chord. Move a G chord up a perfect fourth -> C chord... same with E chord up a flat 6th and D chord up a flat 7th. Realizing this was definitely a huge deal.

The five pentatonic boxes are definitely my main way of navigating the fretboard, and I try to think as much about where the scale degrees sit for each box for the minor and major pentatonics. It's also how I deal with any given scale formula (like 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 for harmonic minor), just add the notes to the minor (or major) pentatonic sceleton. But I don't really associate the boxes with the open chord shapes, like when I look at the first minor pentatonic box, I don't think "this is where the Em chord shape and the G major chord shape sit", even though I know they are right there, they are just not part of my active thinking.

As a last point, I don't really find myself thinking about CAGED yet when I think about basic triads. Last week I encountered this 3 note chord shape on the D, G, B strings and after thinking about it for a minute or two, I figured that it was just a major triad in first inversion. But it did not occur to me until much later, that it was also just the "interior" of a C shaped major chord, and that this would be the quickest way to get a first inversion triad starting on the D string. So my theory knowledge and my CAGED thinking are still really disconnected for things like this.
 

Brian Haner Sr.

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Nov 11, 2019
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After playing for only 1 year, I definitely find myself in the "bits and pieces" camp.

The first mindblowing realization I got from CAGED was: Every (!!) shape on the guitar is movable. Sure, if it's a 4 finger open chord, you will need a capo, but for every 3 finger shape, go nuts with your bar chords. So we can use this to play every chord in every shape everywhere on the fretboard. Move an A chord up a minor third -> C chord. Move a G chord up a perfect fourth -> C chord... same with E chord up a flat 6th and D chord up a flat 7th. Realizing this was definitely a huge deal.

The five pentatonic boxes are definitely my main way of navigating the fretboard, and I try to think as much about where the scale degrees sit for each box for the minor and major pentatonics. It's also how I deal with any given scale formula (like 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 for harmonic minor), just add the notes to the minor (or major) pentatonic sceleton. But I don't really associate the boxes with the open chord shapes, like when I look at the first minor pentatonic box, I don't think "this is where the Em chord shape and the G major chord shape sit", even though I know they are right there, they are just not part of my active thinking.

As a last point, I don't really find myself thinking about CAGED yet when I think about basic triads. Last week I encountered this 3 note chord shape on the D, G, B strings and after thinking about it for a minute or two, I figured that it was just a major triad in first inversion. But it did not occur to me until much later, that it was also just the "interior" of a C shaped major chord, and that this would be the quickest way to get a first inversion triad starting on the D string. So my theory knowledge and my CAGED thinking are still really disconnected for things like this.
That's awesome! You've made some great progress. It's just a matter of application now. Don't take ANY chord progression for granted - no matter how simple. If it's C - F - G, play those 3 chords in a few different positions and inversions. Which ones sounds best? This is the simplest way to start sounding original and to separate yourself from the pack.
One of Syn's secret weapons is to add open strings to chords. Example: If he's playing a C bar chord on the 3rd fret (A shape), he plays it with an open G string and open high e string, (you have to re-finger it because it is no longer a bar chord - 1st finger A string 3rd fret, 3rd finger D string 5th fret, 4th finger B string 5th fret). Now play an Em bar chord on the 7th fret (Am shape) -same drill - refinger so you have an open G & e string. The fun starts when you play a Dm on the 5th fret (Am shape). Now your open G string gives you a 4th and an open E string gives you a 9th. There's a lot of tension in this chord and it may sound "funny" to you - until you place it in a progression like C Dm Em.
Mess around with shapes, inversions, etc. Add open strings.No rules. If it sounds good - it's right!
Most of all have fun!
I'm proud of your progress!
Cheers!
pg
 

chris_is_cool

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That's awesome! You've made some great progress. It's just a matter of application now. Don't take ANY chord progression for granted - no matter how simple. If it's C - F - G, play those 3 chords in a few different positions and inversions. Which ones sounds best? This is the simplest way to start sounding original and to separate yourself from the pack.
One of Syn's secret weapons is to add open strings to chords. Example: If he's playing a C bar chord on the 3rd fret (A shape), he plays it with an open G string and open high e string, (you have to re-finger it because it is no longer a bar chord - 1st finger A string 3rd fret, 3rd finger D string 5th fret, 4th finger B string 5th fret). Now play an Em bar chord on the 7th fret (Am shape) -same drill - refinger so you have an open G & e string. The fun starts when you play a Dm on the 5th fret (Am shape). Now your open G string gives you a 4th and an open E string gives you a 9th. There's a lot of tension in this chord and it may sound "funny" to you - until you place it in a progression like C Dm Em.
Mess around with shapes, inversions, etc. Add open strings.No rules. If it sounds good - it's right!
Most of all have fun!
I'm proud of your progress!
Cheers!
pg
Direct advise from the master teacher himself, thank you so much! 🤩🤩 I will definitely take that to heart and start experimenting and messing around more with all of it.
Cheers!
 
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RoaringRowanThunderBender

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    I don't know if this has been posted anywhere here already, but it really helped me with the CAGED system as a beginner. These are all C chords in the different CAGED shapes. And color coded kinda made me pay more attention and made it click easier. And if you use a Capo for the barre on certain ones, it makes it even easier.
     

    mbrohden

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    Hi, english it's not my native language, so sorry any mistakes. I'm new to the guitar and particulary to the CAGED system. There is one thing that I didn't get it.
    Why, after the D shape, we don't barre the chord on the last note?
    For example, starting the E chord = E shape, and then D shape, and then C shape, but the C shape we barre the chord on the 4 fret instead of the 5 fret, where was the last note on the D shape.
     
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    Ids Schiere

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    Hi, english it's not my native language, so sorry any mistakes. I'm new to the guitar and particulary to the CAGED system. There is one thing that I didn't get it.
    Why, after the D shape, we don't barre the chord on the last note?
    For example, starting the E chord = E shape, and then D shape, and then C shape, but the C shape we barre the chord on the 4 fret instead of the 5 fret, where was the last note on the D shape.
    In it's most basic way (so no inversions or anything like that) the D shape does not require a bar since the root is at the lowest fret and you don't need to press down that fret on any other fret so there's no bar. It's kind of inherent to the shape really.
     
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    mbrohden

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    In it's most basic way (so no inversions or anything like that) the D shape does not require a bar since the root is at the lowest fret and you don't need to press down that fret on any other fret so there's no bar. It's kind of inherent to the shape really.
    Thank you for your answer, but I don't think I made myself clear enough. I got it about the bar chord on the D shape. My question is: taking the example before, why I have to bar the 4th fret to make the next shape, the C shape, and not to bar the 5th fret? Shouldn't be the last note on the D shape, the 5th fret on the B string? What I'm missing?
     
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    Ids Schiere

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    Thank you for your answer, but I don't think I made myself clear enough. I got it about the bar chord on the D shape. My question is: taking the example before, why I have to bar the 4th fret to make the next shape, the C shape, and not to bar the 5th fret? Shouldn't be the last note on the D shape, the 5th fret on the B string? What I'm missing?
    The D and C shape are very similar. The difference is where the bass note is located. Since In the C shape the lowest fret you would fret is om the E and G string, in your example the 4th fret you be it there. This is not the case for the D shape. In your example you're using an E chord which is made up of the notes E G B. What caged effectively tells you is where can I play this combination of notes. For the D shape you would play 2nd fret D string, 4th fret of the G string, 5th fret of the B string and 4th fret of the high E. In the C shape you would play it by playing the 7th fret of the A string, 6th fret of the D string, 4th fret of the G string, 5th fret of the B string and 4th fret of the high E where you bar all the notes on the 4th fret. If you would bar the 5th fret while using the C-shape it would mean you move up all of the frets above up one fret making it an F chord instead of an E chord which is not what we're looking for here so you bar the 4th fret to make sure it's the same chord.
     

    chris_is_cool

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    Hi, english it's not my native language, so sorry any mistakes. I'm new to the guitar and particulary to the CAGED system. There is one thing that I didn't get it.
    Why, after the D shape, we don't barre the chord on the last note?
    For example, starting the E chord = E shape, and then D shape, and then C shape, but the C shape we barre the chord on the 4 fret instead of the 5 fret, where was the last note on the D shape.
    For me, it makes most sense to think directly about the actual intervals between the root notes of the CAGED chords. So you want to do the key of E as an example, so lets rearrage the chords as E D C A G.

    • At fret 0, we have the E shape of course.
    • The interval (coming from below!) from D to E is 2 semitones, so we need to move the D shape up 2 frets to get an E chord.
    • The interval between C and E is 4 semitones -> Need to move C shape up 4 frets to get an E chord.
    • Interval A -> E: 7 semitones -> Move A shape up 7 frets to get E chord.
    • Interval G -> E: 9 semitones -> Move G shape up 9 frets to get E chord.
    • Interval E (octave lower) -> E: 12 semitones -> Move E shape up 12 frets to get another E, just an octave higher.
    Just knowing the distances between the notes (if we arrange them ascending as A C D E G, we see that they actually form the A Minor Pentatonic!!! Npw you just need to put them in the "wrong" order: G E D C A, and start with whatever example key you want to do) helps a lot.
     
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    Calvin Phillips

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    Thank you for your answer, but I don't think I made myself clear enough. I got it about the bar chord on the D shape. My question is: taking the example before, why I have to bar the 4th fret to make the next shape, the C shape, and not to bar the 5th fret? Shouldn't be the last note on the D shape, the 5th fret on the B string? What I'm missing?
    You could fret those notes if you wanted to extend the chord down but those notes aren't necessary. But they are the same notes you already are barring off in the top 4 strings.
     
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    AdLeIaVdE

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    Thank you for your answer, but I don't think I made myself clear enough. I got it about the bar chord on the D shape. My question is: taking the example before, why I have to bar the 4th fret to make the next shape, the C shape, and not to bar the 5th fret? Shouldn't be the last note on the D shape, the 5th fret on the B string? What I'm missing?
    The way I explained it to myself was by looking at the intervals between the chords:
    - between A and C there are 3 semitones -> thus if we move up the A shape 3 frets we get a C chord (and the C shape just so happens to fret the 5th string at the 3rd fret)
    for the next intervals its similar
    - G to A: 2 semitones -> move up G shape 2 frets and you get an A chord (and the A shape "ends" at the 2nd fret)
    - E to G: 3 semitones -> move up E 3 frets and you get G (and G shape "ends" at the 3rd fret)
    - D to E: 2 semitones -> move up D 2 frets and you get E (and E shape "ends" at the 2nd fret)
    C to D doesn't quite fit into this pattern:
    - C to D: 2 semitones -> thus you have to move C up 2 frets to get to D. The D shape however "ends" at the 3rd fret on the B string, so you can't use the "end" of the D shape like you could with the others.

    Hope this explenation can be of help to you :)
     
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    mbrohden

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    The way I explained it to myself was by looking at the intervals between the chords:
    - between A and C there are 3 semitones -> thus if we move up the A shape 3 frets we get a C chord (and the C shape just so happens to fret the 5th string at the 3rd fret)
    for the next intervals its similar
    - G to A: 2 semitones -> move up G shape 2 frets and you get an A chord (and the A shape "ends" at the 2nd fret)
    - E to G: 3 semitones -> move up E 3 frets and you get G (and G shape "ends" at the 3rd fret)
    - D to E: 2 semitones -> move up D 2 frets and you get E (and E shape "ends" at the 2nd fret)
    C to D doesn't quite fit into this pattern:
    - C to D: 2 semitones -> thus you have to move C up 2 frets to get to D. The D shape however "ends" at the 3rd fret on the B string, so you can't use the "end" of the D shape like you could with the others.

    Hope this explenation can be of help to you :)
    Oh now I see, both your and crish_is_cool explanation made the whole concept easier. Thanks