01 March, 2010

What is CAGED System?

Have you ever come across the term CAGED System. I know I have. I used to think it meant barre chords because to me, the shape of the barre chord kind of looks like a cage-like shape. However, I realise that that is not what the CAGED system is.

Recently, I have been taking some guitar lessons (particularly on theory) to further improve my guitar theory because I am really weak at it. So, here's my attempt to explain what the CAGED system is:

CAGED is not a noun or verb etc. In fact, CAGED represents the open chords, C, A, G, E and D. These are the chords that most beginners would have learned first because they are pretty easy to play. In a nutshell, the CAGED system is all about movable chord patterns. So, what this CAGED system is trying to say is that you can use the chord patterns of C, A, G, E and D, to play all major chords.

I know it sounds kind of confusing, but perhaps some diagrams will help. Let us take the C major chord as an example. The diagrams you will see will show you how to play the C major chord using the CAGED system:

All the chords shown above are different ways you can play a C major chord using the CAGED system. Notice the red squares? These are the basic C, A, G, E and D chords that you probably already know how to play. The only difference is that you have to play them on different frets, and barre an extra fret.

So the next question to ask is, "How do we know which frets to play these patterns on?" This is again where you will need to know your fretboard well.
  • Diagram 1 - Ring finger is on the 3rd fret 5th string because it is a C note (C)
  • Diagram 2 - Index finger barres the 3rd fret 5th string because it is a C note (A)
  • Diagram 3 - Ring finger is on the 8th fret 6th string because it is a C note (G)
  • Diagram 4 - Index finger is on the 8th fret 6th string because it is a C note (E)
  • Diagram 5 - Index finger is on the 10th fret 4th string because it is a C note (D)
If it's still confusing, think of it as though you're using a capo. But this time, the capo is your index finger. You can read my post on "How to use a capo" to perhaps help you understand about the CAGED system.

I hope this post has helped. If it's still confusing, perhaps it's because my explanations are not clear. Do bear with me, I know my theory is not strong at all, therefore I'm trying my best to learn. I hope you all will take time to learn too =)


Anonymous said...

Nice explanation graham....I totally get it now..jojo

Anonymous said...

very nice thank you

Anonymous said...

Daniel, this is one of the best descriptions of CAGED, imho. By carefully showing only the notes in a single chord, in a single diagram, you have greatly enhanced clarity and reduced confusion. Also the brevity of your text stays on topic, where others stray off topic, by trying to teach too much. Thanks.

daniel said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comments. I'm glad I could explain it in a simple way. I guess this is where not knowing all the theories can sometimes help :)