The C-A-G-E-D Guitar System In a Nutshell

What I want to discuss is the C-A-G-E-D guitar system, a method of learning the guitar for beginning students, based on five basic chord forms and scale shapes that teach students all of the note locations on the fingerboard.

The fundamental concept is to first learn five basic guitar chords – chords that everyone inevitably ends up learning first on the guitar anyway, and the chords you need  to impress the ladies by learning just about every song they want to hear you sing. The chords are, ironically enough, C, A, G, E, and D. (Go figure.)

The order of these chords remain constant and the scale shapes overlap, so as you move up the fingerboard you will remember that, as an example, A and G will always overlap. The chord shapes will change slightly as you move up the fingerboard to accommodate the change from open strings to fretted notes. As an example, the ‘E’ chord shape will translate to barre chords as you move up the neck.

Each chord shape is also associate with a scale shape, so you’re not stuck doing your best Malcolm Young impression while your other guitar-playing friend is  jumping around like Angus. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

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Though I think the method has a lot of merit, I find some of the scale shapes to be a bit inefficient. It’s a very minor criticism that is outweighed by the benefits of learning the system, especially for beginning guitar students.

There are a few books available on the CAGED guitar system. I will tell you up front that I have not looked at these products myself, so your mileage may vary, but I’m including links to them here in the interest of giving you a place to start if you want to explore this learning method further. If you are interested in learning how to play the guitar yourself, the CAGED method might be exactly what you need to get started. I may decide to explore the CAGED system further at a later date, but for now you can check these products out:

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