An Introduction to the CAGED System

For many budding guitarists, the fretboard can sometimes seem like a vast, uncharted territory. 

Sure, you've learned a few open chords, and you might even be comfortable strumming along to your favorite songs. But when it comes to navigating the entire neck of the guitar, things might get a tad intimidating. 

Enter the CAGED system - a navigational tool that transforms your understanding of the guitar. Let's dive in.

What is the CAGED System?

The CAGED system is a method to help guitarists understand and easily navigate the fretboard. 

  • It's built upon the foundation of five basic open chord shapes that most guitarists learn in their early days: C, A, G, E, and D
  • The magic of this system is that these shapes can be used as building blocks to play chords, scales, and arpeggios all over the fretboard.

The Framework of the CAGED System

Imagine the fretboard as a puzzle. The pieces of this puzzle are the five chord shapes mentioned earlier. 

As you move these shapes up the neck, using what we call a "barre" with your index finger, you unlock different chord voicings, essentially fitting the pieces of the puzzle together.

For instance, if you've played an open E major chord, you've already used one part of the CAGED framework. Now, by moving that E shape up the fretboard and barring the first fret, you'll get an F major chord, using what is commonly called an "E-shaped barre chord."

  • This concept applies to all five shapes
  • As you progress, you'll notice that the shapes interlock and follow the sequence of their name: C-A-G-E-D
  • Once the D shape concludes, it cycles back to the C shape, continuing the sequence.

How the CAGED System Benefits Your Guitar Journey

1. Fretboard Mastery

The CAGED system simplifies the fretboard. 

  • Instead of seeing a sea of unrelated notes, you start viewing everything on the neck as interconnected shapes
  • This not only boosts your confidence but also makes playing in different positions feel more natural.

2. Versatile Chord Voicings

Ever wondered how professional guitarists effortlessly switch between different chord variations in a song, giving it depth and dynamism? 

The CAGED system is their secret! By knowing how a single chord can be voiced in multiple ways across the fretboard, you can add variety and richness to your rhythm playing.

3. Solid Foundation for Soloing

When you're ready to venture into the world of guitar solos, the CAGED system provides a perfect roadmap

  • Each chord shape connects to a scale pattern. 
  • This connection means you can quickly locate the right notes to play over any chord.
  • Your solos will sound more melodic and intentional once you start using the CAGED system.

Here you can see how the C major chord lives inside the C major scale:

In Conclusion

The CAGED system is more than just a theoretical concept – it's a practical tool that can significantly enhance your guitar playing. 

Once you understand its framework and learn how to apply it to your playing, you'll soon find yourself navigating the fretboard with newfound ease and confidence.

If you're intrigued and want to delve deeper into the benefits of this system, don't miss our next article that will elaborate why you should learn the CAGED system. Happy strumming!

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