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The CAGED System


The caged system is a simple method for learning and visualizing the scales and the chord tones that they are made of.

This system is based on the 5 open chord shapes C, A, G, E and D.

You can read an article about the basic major and minor guitar chords shapes here.

Before the true potential of these chords can be unlocked they need to be adapted so that they’ll work in any key. In order to do this the open strings must be eliminated, so you have to imagine using your index finger as a capo and playing the same chords an octave higher up the neck.

This means that the major shapes should look something like this (the black notes are the root notes of every shape):

Some of these shapes are more practical than others. For example everyone loves the A and E shapes, but the G shape is harder to finger, and that is the reason why most guitarists don’t play that shape lower then the first position.

However it is important to be aware of all the five shapes if you want to benefit from the CAGED system.

Even if you saw the above shapes before, you should still take a moment and identify the root in every chords case.

The black dots are the root notes of every shape.

By doing this you will see the following:

  • – The C shape shares its A string root note with the A shape
  • – The A shape shares its G string root note with the G shape
  • – The G shape shares its E string root note with the E shape
  • – The E shape shares its D string root note with the D shape
  • – and so on

You can see this in this relationship between the notes in the picture below.

Note that the black dots are the root notes.

The CAGED System Conclusion

I hope that you learned something new from this article and now you have a better understanding of the CAGED System. Feel free to play with this shapes ( the G shape was the most difficult for me) and tell me how did improved you playing.

In my future articles i am going to show you the minor CAGED shapes and i will also show you some exercises that will help you develop your finger independence and learn the CAGED system in the same time

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