How much do you use the caged system?

Cesspit

Strat-O-Master
Sep 4, 2016
959
Oxford England
I am a total moron when it comes to music theory. Biggest regret is that I didn't learn anything other than playing by ear. Funny thing is after 50 years of playing I have had many occasions where another player will say, 'hey your playing that scale', or 'I like the way you slipped into that mode'...I am of course baffled. I guess I have played 'caged' whatever that is, I just don't know it.
 

Gedster

Strat-Talker
May 11, 2021
147
NSW Australia
I’m a bit surprised by some of the replies in this thread. CAGED was a deadset breakthrough for me in terms of mapping out the fretboard. It had always been a bit a mystery before that.

The moveable chord shapes are just the framework. It’s really about the arpeggios, pentatonics and scales that hang off each of those shapes. That’s kinda where the magic (and the real work) lies.

Guthrie Trapp changed the way I play guitar. He’s an entirely CAGED based player. Everything he plays is “out of the chord shape”. If you really want to explore how it works, subscribe to Guthrie’s YouTube channel and every week he uploads 20 minutes of stuff that will either set you off on the journey to master it, or not. It’s all free because he’s trying to drive you to his lessons etc, but the free stuff is inspiring enough in itself, and there are literally hundreds of videos there to absorb.

The intro to this vid is cool, but skip through to about 10 mins to get to the actual guts of the lesson. (He’s got a fantastic guitar collection too!)

 

fattboyzz

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 24, 2017
3,170
Newnan ,Ga.
Youtube is indeed filled with videos on this subject. To nauseum even :oops::(:confused:

Lots of good answers in here.

I was told by a local guy that knowing 1,4,5 an caged was all I'd ever need to play live and he had did it for years.


I did watch a couple vids, but realized I was already using it somewhat. I play more barre than cowboy chords ,so Im using alot of the E and A shapes already. I know where my roots are and improvise mostly using the blues scale.
Knowing maj. & min. pentatonics plus the Major scale too also helps me add flavor to runs an c&r with myself on the neck :thumb:
 

s5tuart

Perfecting time travel since 2525
Aug 8, 2011
15,807
All over the place!
I'm starting to explore chord melody playing in a jazzy vein and I find it useful to help with discovering the inversions I need to minimise hand movement while keeping on top of the melody.


 

Morf2540

Senior Stratmaster
Nov 8, 2017
1,564
Wilmington, DE
I’m a bit surprised by some of the replies in this thread. CAGED was a deadset breakthrough for me in terms of mapping out the fretboard. It had always been a bit a mystery before that.

The moveable chord shapes are just the framework. It’s really about the arpeggios, pentatonics and scales that hang off each of those shapes. That’s kinda where the magic (and the real work) lies.

Guthrie Trapp changed the way I play guitar. He’s an entirely CAGED based player. Everything he plays is “out of the chord shape”. If you really want to explore how it works, subscribe to Guthrie’s YouTube channel and every week he uploads 20 minutes of stuff that will either set you off on the journey to master it, or not. It’s all free because he’s trying to drive you to his lessons etc, but the free stuff is inspiring enough in itself, and there are literally hundreds of videos there to absorb.

The intro to this vid is cool, but skip through to about 10 mins to get to the actual guts of the lesson. (He’s got a fantastic guitar collection too!)

Yes, great post, and great video. This whole concept makes me think of players like Mike Campbell or John Fogerty. They tend to hang things off chords. So knowing where all the chord voicings are helps to see all the places you can find notes that fit over that chord. You could play this way without knowing anything about scales.

I distinctly remember the moment this all dawned on me years ago. I was reading something that mentioned the G chord at the 7th fret. And I'm thinking, where the heck is there a G chord at the 7th fret??? At that time I only thought about barre chords sliding up and down. But somehow I figured out it was a D shape. And it was a "Holy Sh*t!!" moment. Once I figured out the movable D, I soon realized that it was used in tons and tons of songs. Mike Campbell, George Harrison, and other guys use it all the time. From there I realized that, duh, all the chord shapes can be moved anywhere. Of course different voicings add musicality, so it's valuable for that reason. Then I realized it's also practical, because it allows you to keep your hand in one place. If you are playing an Am at the 5th fret, there is an F chord right there!! At the time, this was astounding knowledge to me.

So like other people have said, I figured out the CAGED system before ever hearing of it. The deeper dive, as that video shows, is using it as a different way to learn the fretboard to find note combinations all over the place. That's where I'm at now in the learning process.
 

Andrew Wasson

Senior Stratmaster
Nov 6, 2018
3,821
Vancouver, Canada
Guthrie Trapp changed the way I play guitar. He’s an entirely CAGED based player. Everything he plays is “out of the chord shape”. If you really want to explore how it works, subscribe to Guthrie’s YouTube channel and every week he uploads 20 minutes of stuff that will either set you off on the journey to master it, or not. It’s all free because he’s trying to drive you to his lessons etc, but the free stuff is inspiring enough in itself, and there are literally hundreds of videos there to absorb.

Thanks for the referral to Guthrie Trapp. I’m going to follow him and see if he can enlighten me.

I worked out the chord shapes in the late 80’s and early 90’s out of necessity but never heard about the “caged system” until maybe the last 10 years or so. I’ve written a few original songs that you could look at and say that they rely on the caged system but I just played was sounded good to me as opposed to understanding why they sounded good to me.

The chords I get. It’s the arpeggios and connections that I’m interested in understanding better.
 

didger

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 5, 2014
1,732
Salt Lake City
I’m a bit surprised by some of the replies in this thread. CAGED was a deadset breakthrough for me in terms of mapping out the fretboard. It had always been a bit a mystery before that.

The moveable chord shapes are just the framework. It’s really about the arpeggios, pentatonics and scales that hang off each of those shapes. That’s kinda where the magic (and the real work) lies.

Yeah, I just read this thread thinking, "most of these people just looked at an intro to CAGED and dismissed it," until getting to your post. At first it indeed seems like a rigid way just to learn chords all over the fretboard, but nope, it's really a smart way to learn the fretboard for ALL the things you can do on guitar. I played for 34 years without knowing what CAGED was, and only started using it this spring when I started teaching at a school that uses it. It didn't take long to see how useful it is.
 

davi3blu3

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 26, 2021
42
Nashville, TN
After 25+ years of playing, I have never really gotten good at navigating the fretboard the way I would like to. CAGED is now helping with that; once I realized the how the five pentatonic boxes lined up with those shapes, my mind was blown. It's now a central concept to how I practice chords, arpeggios, and scales. Maybe one day I will graduate to 3NPS, but five patterns is plenty to keep me busy right now.
 

Gedster

Strat-Talker
May 11, 2021
147
NSW Australia
Thanks for the referral to Guthrie Trapp. I’m going to follow him and see if he can enlighten me.

I worked out the chord shapes in the late 80’s and early 90’s out of necessity but never heard about the “caged system” until maybe the last 10 years or so. I’ve written a few original songs that you could look at and say that they rely on the caged system but I just played was sounded good to me as opposed to understanding why they sounded good to me.

The chords I get. It’s the arpeggios and connections that I’m interested in understanding better.

I’m sure you’ll get as much enjoyment and inspiration from Guthrie’s videos as I do Andrew. For an investment of 20 minutes a week, he’s pretty good value!

Yeah, I just read this thread thinking, "most of these people just looked at an intro to CAGED and dismissed it," until getting to your post. At first it indeed seems like a rigid way just to learn chords all over the fretboard, but nope, it's really a smart way to learn the fretboard for ALL the things you can do on guitar. I played for 34 years without knowing what CAGED was, and only started using it this spring when I started teaching at a school that uses it. It didn't take long to see how useful it is.

Yep, it was the first route that really made sense to me. I needed a method to tie all those shapes and pentatonics (particularly) together vertically and horizontally up the neck. I know that some people can just do that stuff instinctively, but a system that ties it all up and morphs across any key is a really practical way to teach it.

After 25+ years of playing, I have never really gotten good at navigating the fretboard the way I would like to. CAGED is now helping with that; once I realized the how the five pentatonic boxes lined up with those shapes, my mind was blown. It's now a central concept to how I practice chords, arpeggios, and scales. Maybe one day I will graduate to 3NPS, but five patterns is plenty to keep me busy right now.

You’re in Nashville @davi3blu3 ? Guthrie Trapp plays out 2 or 3 nights a week around town. You should get along to one of his gigs. I’m sure it would inspire you into the CAGED maze even further. He’s a master.
 

stratobiker

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 16, 2011
2,359
France
I must be missing something about CAGED... I've looked at this a few times and I see no value in it at all. Yeah, we have movable chord shapes with the guitar. Yeah, you know what chord you are playing based on the root note(s). OK.

What CAGED is supposed to do for me escapes my vision. Perhaps someone here can enlighten me. I'm willing to learn if there's some value in it.

I see it as a way of mapping the fretboard effectively. It makes it very easy to move up and down the neck playing chord inversions. If you then add the scale shape and arpeggio that goes with each chord you’re well set.
 

dogletnoir

V----V
Nov 1, 2013
12,571
northeastern us
i don't use CAGED at all.
This is not a comment on the system's relative validity. It's just not how i was trained.

There are many different systems of fingerboard organisation.
The most important thing is to find a system that you can understand and use in order
to efficiently reproduce the music that you hear in your head.
And if you don't find one...
... you can always come up with your own. :)
 
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Baelzebub

Dr. Stratster
Nov 1, 2019
12,593
State of Disbelief
I am a total moron when it comes to music theory. Biggest regret is that I didn't learn anything other than playing by ear. Funny thing is after 50 years of playing I have had many occasions where another player will say, 'hey your playing that scale', or 'I like the way you slipped into that mode'...I am of course baffled. I guess I have played 'caged' whatever that is, I just don't know it.


Never too late. I went 50 years before getting serious about actually understanding it. I think the hardest thing was finding tools that took an approach to match my style of learning, but I found a couple that work. Probably all the psychedelics in my youth but I learn through seeing the patterns in things.

The other thing I did was sort of detach theory from the guitar and visualized/demonstrated ideas I was learning on a keyboard, (which I do not play). This was helpful because on a k/b the notes are all laid out in a straight line. This makes it a lot easier to see the patterns that tie everything together and then relate them to each other, and finally the guitar fretboard.

Lastly I just approached it as learning a new language. I always sucked at those too, until I realized that rote learning didn't work for me. For me, I had to learn the logic of the culture and then the could make sense of the language structure. After that it was learning words.

I'm explaining it badly but, to simplify, there are subtle but distinct ways that a culture views the world which where they place a modifier, before or after a noun, (aka "the cow brown instead of "the brown cow"). It's about priority and emphasis. Once I understood the culture the way they expressed themselves made sense to me.

Once I started to understand certain ideas about how the structure of music is organized, then I started to see where it was in the things I had always been playing and how those could be altered or expanded. Then I figure out what it's called. (the words).

I'd be happy to share any and all of the stuff I found useful. Just PM me and I'll put it together for you and you can give it a go. I try to take 10-15 minutes a day, at least to work on some idea related to it, even if it's just staring at the Circle of 5ths, (which are hanging on the walls all over the house....across from the commode is a good spot..nothing to look at there anyway... :D) and see patterns or parse out numerical tricks I can use to memorize how to construct it in my head. I'm not there, but it's taking shape.
 
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