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Is the CAGED system that bad?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by priyom, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. Boubou

    Boubou Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Jul 30, 2005
    Montreal, Quebec
    Maybe an example?
    You know, showing us ignorant people how to use it.
    Just one.

  2. Tom Conlon

    Tom Conlon Tele-Meister

    Jul 27, 2012
    I suppose people are critical of the CAGED system because it encourages the player to think like a guitarist and not a musician. If you use the CAGED system as a basis for playing solos, you will play based on visual approach and thinking positions rather than going after the notes you hear in your head.

    However, I happen to think the guitar is special in that it IS so visual and there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. Scores of players have played some very beautiful, life-changing music using this approach.

    Of course, breaking out of position thinking and being able to read on the guitar and play notes you hear in your head is a wonderful goal to have but that's a long journey. There's more than one way to get there.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
    Rospo likes this.

  3. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Tele-Afflicted

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    Are YOU really aware of what the basis behind the CAGED system is?

  4. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    As has more or less been said, CAGED is to chord tones what the "boxes" are to the pentatonics. And... there happen to be five positions or shapes in each way of looking at it. Someone was planning ahead... :twisted:

    Both are very guitaristic, but then that is what we're playing here, no?

    It's just one way of looking at the fingerboard.

  5. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Play the so-called "cowboy chords:" C - x32010; A - x02220; G - 320003; E - 022100; D - xx0232. Then, move those shapes up the fretboard and find the roots of the new (moved) chord. What you will begin to see is where all the octaves lie by virtue of the shapes of the chords. C and D are similar, but the lowest roots are on different strings. Same with A and G.

  6. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Tele-Afflicted

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    Another way to "box" the CAGED system is to look at the ascending notes of the CAGED "triad" CHORDS:

    • C-shape chord is R-3-5...on middle strings: x320xx (C chord)
    • A-shape chord is R-5-3...on middle strings: xx222x (A chord)
    • G-shape chord is R-3-5...on bass strings: 320xxx (G chord)
    • E-shape chord is R-5-3...on middle strings: xx321x (F chord)
    • D-shape chord is 3-5-R...on bass strings: 300xxx (D chord)

    Notice the R-3-5 and R-5-3 and 3-5-R patterns; making C-E-G chord-shapes similar fingerings.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017

  7. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

    Nov 13, 2006
    If you're playing with major scales, you would always think in terms of chords shapes because that's the logical way to find the notes. I don't think there is any other way to do it. I learned to play melodic country lead guitar by ear – figuring things out from recordings. I had never even heard of CAGED, and yet I learned to play in all those same positions because THATS WHERE THE NOTES ARE. If there's a chord, there's a corresponding scale. Those are the positions that have always been used, so everything you hear on records comes from people using those same positions. In the end, there are only so many places to find the notes where your fingers can easily grab them.
    Leon Grizzard and moosie like this.

  8. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    This from @dkmw is perfect:

    I know this is kind of a side topic from CAGED but Great Diagrams! Thanks for sharing these.

    I use these patterns but mostly the 2nd position for major because the root is the first note.

    It might be obvious to others (I'm still in the kiddie pool as well) but it's worth noting that these patterns become the 7 modes if you use them by rooting on the first note of each pattern so that the context resolves around it; ie:

    • 1st position G Major is F# Locrian rooted on F# on the 6th string, 2nd Fret. Shift the whole pattern up one fret G and it's G Locrian.
    • 2nd position G Major is the G Ionian mode rooted at G on the 6th string, 3rd Fret.
    • 3rd position G Major is A Dorian rooted on the A at the 6th string, 5th Fret. Shift the position down two frets to the 3rd fret and it's G Dorian.
    • 4th position G Major is B Phrygian rooted on B at 6th string, the 7th fret. Shift the position to wherever you choose; 3rd fret and its G Phrygian.
    • 5th position G Major is C Lydian rooted on C at the 6th string, 8th fret. Shift it to where you like; ie: shift to the 3rd fret and it's G Lydian.
    • 6th position G Major is D Mixolydian rooted on D at the 6th string, 10th Fret. Move it wherever you need a 3 note per string per Mixolydian shape.
    • 7th position G Major is E Aeolian rooted on the 6th string, 12th fret. Like the others shift this pattern to where you need it.
    pdcorlis and dkmw like this.

  9. dkmw

    dkmw Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2016
    Florida USA
    ^ Well heck, that's the easiest way to look at modes I ever saw. Just spent 10 minutes noodling in G dorian looking for some Dickey Betts sounds.


    Oops I think we hijacked this thread.
    awasson likes this.

  10. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

    Mar 8, 2006
    Austin, Texas

  11. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    That's what I thought too, when it finally made sense to me. I'm sure there are some folks where they just get it but for me, I have to look at it from all angles, give up and then stumble onto it when I'm trying to pursue something completely different.

    It's like you said earlier: it's starting to come together. Posts from the real guitar players here used to be way over my head; lots of it makes sense now.

  12. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut

    Story of my life.
    awasson likes this.

  13. Bluesbrother777

    Bluesbrother777 TDPRI Member

    Apr 25, 2015
    I wish I knew how any note will sound in any context by ear, magically, like John Scofield, but until then I will rely on CAGED and step outside of it when I feel wild.

    I am not a brainy jazz musician, if I was I'd probably diss CAGED too, as an inferior system. CAGED is a basic fundamental device that is valuable for intermediate and advanced players. Beginners usually have a really hard time grasping it and naturally talented folk are turned off by its simplicity and "staying inside the lines" as it were.

    IF you know all the note names on the fretboard, sharps and flats, and which notes make up every chord in every key, all the scales and arpeggios, and you have perfect pitch to boot then you don't need no stinking CAGED!

    I aspire to be at that level, but I'm far from it.

  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I'm not comfortable all over the fingerboard at that level, either, but seriously, I think CAGED can still help. It's a framework. If you know where all the chord tones are, then you can also begin to visualize where your b5 and #9 notes live, relative to the framework. Depending how a person processes information, in real time it can be a lot easier to make minor adjustments to a known thing, rather than face a blank canvas all the time. There are certainly other methods, but many would just be another form of framework used to structure the notes. Use one or more perspectives, or none, whatever works for your brain.
    Rospo likes this.

  15. pdcorlis

    pdcorlis Tele-Meister

    I'm a visual learner, the CAGED system helped me visualize the existing logic of the fretboard. For that I will be eternally grateful.

  16. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA
    CAGED is a map of the patterns that are naturally created on the guitar fretboard when a guitar is in standard tuning. It is the 'grand unifying pattern' of the fretboard.

    It is not simply another way of seeing the fretboard. All other patterns on the fretboard (major scales, arpeggios, chord shapes, intervals) come out of the CAGED pattern.....CAGED determines what those other patterns look like. It is the meta-pattern of the fretboard.

    CAGED is created by the intersection of two other patterns 1) the placement of the frets which creates the semi-tone pattern on the fretboard from the nut to the last fret and 2) the tuning of the strings E-A-D-G-B-E (Em pent. scale). These two patterns create the CAGED meta-pattern.

    In my experience the most useful application of CAGED is to think of it as a map of octave shapes.....if you use it in that way you can then fill in any notes between those octaves to create any chords, any scales, any intervals, any arpeggios.....the octave shapes are the key to getting the most benefit from CAGED.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017

  17. vashondan

    vashondan Tele-Holic

    May 21, 2016
    One epiphany for me was being able to relate the Caged shapes within the major scale. I also appreciate that I can "easily" find the smaller shapes within the "cowboy" chords and move from maj, to minor, dom etc. Without intentionally seeking them out I'm beginning to "see" the shapes in more complex chords. Theres more but I do not wish to bore! Well, one more thing instead of seeing just a chord shape I also see the notes within the chords within the shapes I've learned...
    awasson and moosie like this.

  18. GreatGaudy

    GreatGaudy TDPRI Member

    Jul 13, 2016
    Scales and CAGED is crap.
    If you'd practice and memorize notes and chord forms all over the neck, you'll never have to think about that already learned it and had fun doin it !

  19. ndcaster

    ndcaster Friend of Leo's

    Nov 14, 2013
    CAGED is just a static map of where a given chord's tones lay out over the fretboard

    you just have to internalize where the notes are, and how you go about doing that varies from person to person

    CAGED is not a "system" because it tells you nothing about how chords change

    in real music, chords MOVE, so you have to learn how the map CHANGES, like this:

    xxx553 - C - I
    xxx565 - F - IV
    xxx433 - G - V
    xxx553 - C - I





    then you can try moving from one of those "C shapes" to another C shape by progression, like a I-VI7-II7-V7-I:


    here's a useful movement, same progression:


    once you internalize how little shapes lay out RELATIVE to each other, you won't ever get lost, you'll KNOW where the notes are, and the available dissonances by feel

    moosie likes this.

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