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The CAGED Guitar System

The CAGED system is a method used to help you relate scales to chord patterns. It’s a simple concept, some guitarists think it’s useful and some think it’s pointles

s or not necessary. The truth is it has it’s uses but as you become more experienced you will find yourself never really thinking about or needing it and it certainly isn’t a requirement to becoming good on the guitar. So what’s the point of it you might be wondering?

Well, it’s easier to remember chord shapes than it is scale shapes. It’s also easier to find where a chord should be played on the neck of the guitar for any given key. By using a method to relate five common major scale shapes to five common chord shapes we should, in theory, have an easier time locating those scale positions.

CAGED guitar system, as the name implies, refers to the common major chords C A G E D in open position.


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The five chords do not have to be in open position, they can be played in fact anywhere on the neck. Realising this is the key to understanding the CAGED system. For example here is the G chord played in fifth position to make an A major.


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The square shaped note in the diagram is the root note and any of the chords can be moved along the neck in the same fashion, whatever note the root lands on will decide what the chord is. By thinking of these chord shapes and the major scales together, it becomes a much easier job trying to find major scales anywhere on the neck because it’s easier to remember and quickly visualise a chord shape than a scale shape.

The following diagrams show the common five patterns for the Major scale and how the chords fit nicely into those scale patterns. The order of chords never change and this is what makes it handy. A is always next to G, E always next to D and so on. If you start from the E chord for instance then the order will be EDCAG. Learn to associate the shapes, get used to the order of chords along the fretboard and you will start finding many uses for the CAGED guitar system.


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