The CAGED system is another one of those terms that I keep hearing alot about, but what is it exactly?
Even after learning about root note patterns in the Guitar Fretboard Workbook, I was still a little confused about the two (root note patterns and CAGED) and wasn’t able to tie the two together, but in fact I was basically learning the core aspect of the CAGED system the whole time I was going through Barrett’s book.
The piece of the puzzle that tied the two together was a little site called www.cagedguitarsystem.net. It really helped me get my head around what the CAGED system is, how it works and basically how it relies totally on the root note patterns that I learned about in Barrett’s Guitar Fretboard Workbook
Before I understood CAGED, one of the biggest issues I had with the CAGED system was knowing what the positions or patterns were called, how they related to chord shapes and how they were numbered.
So what I can tell you about the CAGED system now is, there are only five main patterns or shapes and each one of them is taken from the root note positions found in five of the Major open chord shapes. Which are C, A, G, E and D.
Lets take a look, but… I should mention before we start, it’s the root note positions within each of the chords that give us our shapes and all five shapes apply to all notes.
This means the shape that gives us the root note positions for the C open chord is the exact same shape that will give us the root note positions for all of the other eleven notes, but in different locations on the fretboard, so instead of thinking in terms of notes, it’s easier to think in terms of patterns and it’s associated number.
C = shape 1, A = shape 2, G = shape 3 and so on…
An easy way to find the pattern within the chord would be to draw a line from root note to root note within the chord shape, just like you did when you were a child doing dot to dot pictures.
If you look at the open C chord, find the C notes within that chord shape and join them together with a line, this now gives us our C shape.
Important: Pay particular attention to the string number and fret distance between root notes.
If you dissect the chord to find all of the C notes within it, you will see there are two C root notes, the first on the B string and the second on the A string two frets apart.
Another important part of the CAGED system you need to know is each of the patterns link to each other, and each of the shapes make up part of the following and preceding shape.
For example, the first instance of the root note for shape two (the A shape) is the second instance of the root note of pattern one (the C shape), both are on the A string, and the second instance of the root note of pattern two is the same as the first instance of the root note of pattern three (the G shape pattern), which is on the G string. Sounds confusing I know but once you “Get it” it will open up the entire fret board before your very eyes.
It would also be a whole lot easier to show you what I meant by giving you a diagram of the fretboard, but unfortunately Jtab doesn’t support fretboard diagrams yet, the best I can do is give you a TAB diagram including all of the patterns for the C root note.
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If you want to see this explained properly using a fretboard diagram, just go to Amazon.com and have a look inside of the Guitar Fretboard Workbook on page 8.
Now… getting back to our open chords… If starting with C, take a look at the C open chord and then look at the 1st and 3rd fingering positions. We can see that they are both C notes. These two notes are the notes that make our first pattern or shape that’s used in the CAGED system. They are also numbers 1 and 3 of our TAB diagram above.
Moving onto A, the second root note pattern, the same thing applies. Notice how the first root note is on the open A string and at the first finger position of the second fret G string. Remember how we mentioned before that each pattern links to the next, notice the first and second patterns both share a root note on the A string, if they were side by side using the single root note, it would be the same note, but because in this example we are using each of the Major chords to show you the root note patterns the notes will obviously fall on different frets. It’s the pattern that’s important here not the notes themselves. The root notes for this shape would correspond to the numbers 3 and 5 of our TAB diagram above.
Next we take the G shaped chord, with our first root note being in the same location as the previous shapes last root note, the G string. In the chord diagram below it is the open G string, the second root note is located on both of the top and bottom E strings, also take note of the three fret distance, that is important to remember. This is our third pattern or position. The root notes for this shape would correspond to the numbers 5 and 8 of our TAB diagram above.
So next we look at the E shape. Our root notes are now on the top and bottom E strings as well as the second fret D string, the third finger positioning. This is the fourth pattern or position. The root notes for this shape would correspond to the numbers 8 and 10 of our TAB diagram above.
And lastly we look at the D shape. Our root notes are located on the open D string and the third fret B string, the third finger positioning, and again notice the three fret distance. This also brings us back to our first root note position for the first pattern. The root notes for this shape would correspond to the numbers 10 and 13 of our TAB diagram above.
I hope you can make sense of everything I have written here, I have tried to explain it as clearly as I can, but if you really want to learn the CAGED system from a master guitar teacher then I can’t recommended Barrett’s Guitar Fretboard Workbook enough, this book continues to be a master key for unlocking the guitar fretboard.