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Guitar Grimoire vs. CAGED

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(@napsterbater)
Active Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Hi, I'm Vince, I've been playing off and on for about a year, and finally decided to start getting more serious with the guitar. I have a question I hope the helpful staff here wouldn't mind answering.

I bought much of the guitar grimoire series several months ago. Recently I had a job were I was holed up in a hotel room for long periods of time without distractions, and I decided to bring my guitar with me and my guitar grimoire books. I kept practicing with the F Major scale, because that's what the exercise book starts you off on, for two weeks, really intensely. Now I know very well the scale and where it's at on the fretboard, as well as all seven patterns, and I can keep time to a metronome using all four main exercises: straight picking, 3 and 4 note coils, and scale note thirds. I can change patterns too pretty easily. I suppose I could improvise if I have to, but I want to keep things relatively simple right now and get a good practice routine going. I keep hearing about CAGED format though, and how it's the best way to learn scales. I figure though at the rate I'm going, I'll learn all the other important scales in less time just using the grimoire exercise book than it would take for me to learn CAGED format.

I know I have some talent with the instrument, what I want though is skill, so I try to keep to a twice or thrice daily practice regimen. I'm trying to get a really good routine down. Can anyone give me some good tips on how to practice scales, like whether it's better to isolate ascending and descending by practicing ten times ascending then ten times descending, or whether it's better to combine them and practice ascending then descending, ten times? I'm going to start using the metronome religiously, that much I'm certain!

My current regimen is take each pattern and, ascend and descend once, then 3 note coil up and down, then 4 note coil up and down, then scale note third up and down, then move on to the next pattern. Since there's seven patterns, I can get done pretty quickly, and sometimes do two of those sessions whenever I sit down. I don't really work on changing patterns much. I find that the physical act of doing each pattern, over and over, with different picking patterns, imprints the idea of the scale into my head. Sometimes though, I'll pick a pattern and run it up or down with a particular exercise, just to see if I know it well enough to not have to look at the book. I haven't had to look at the book now for a week or so, so I figure I'm doing pretty good.

Thanks in advance guys, and happy strumming!


   
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(@napsterbater)
Active Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Nothing :(


   
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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1882
 

Nothing :(

Patience.
Not everyone logs onto the site every day.

I'm not familiar with the Guitar Grimoire, and have only "heard of" the CAGED system, so I don't really have any basis for comparison.
Generally though, there's no reason to not use parts of multiple learning approaches. I've never heard of one single 'holy grail" approach that covers everything that every aspiring guitarist will ever need to know.

There are a lot of knowledgeable folks here (and not just among the staff either).
Give them some time to notice your question.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


   
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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Hi Vince, and Welcome to Guitar Noise :D

I am a regular here, but not a teacher, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

I think that any method is good if you stick to it. I have heard of the Guitar Grimoire books, but not familiar with the method. It's been around for many years though, I am sure it has some merit. I have no idea what a 3 note or 4 note "coil" is, and I've been playing over 35 years. First time I've ever heard that term. But whatever, I don't think you can possibly overpractice scales, I still practice them constantly. And I think you have to learn scales inside out, you don't want to just play straight up and down a scale, forms bad habits. I do think it's kind of odd they start you out in F, that is not a common guitar key. It is very common with piano, but it is a difficult key for guitar, and that is why you don't see too many "guitar songs" (songs written on guitar) in the key of F. On the other hand, if you can play in F, the much more common guitar keys of C, D, E, G, and A will seem much easier. These keys are good for guitar because you have lots of open strings in their scales and chords.

So, if you like the method, stick with it. But don't be afraid to use other books and methods. I personally will try to pick up and learn from any source possible. You gotta remember, when you practice one person's method, you are learning their habits. The best way to avoid habits is to expose yourself to a variety of methods and styles. Your individual style will result from the sum of your influences.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@napsterbater)
Active Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Thanks guys, appreciate the responses.

The Grimoire books call them coils, but it says there's other names they go by too, let me get it out real quick... Spirals is the other name they give. Basically it's three or more note mini-patterns. Play the first three notes of the scale, then drop down an interval and play the next three notes. So if you started in C, you'd play C D E, then drop down to D and play D E F, so on up the scale.

I don't know how other methods teach but the Grimoire shows me seven patterns on the fretboard that each scale is made of. Each pattern has 18 fret positions. The Grimoire shows me F Major first because the patterns connect nicely starting on the first fret with the most logical pattern. After running through the exercises, it shows additional scales that start with different patterns. The C Major scale starts on the first fret with pattern 4. D Major starts with pattern 3 on fret 2. None of the scale patterns shown in the book start with open positions, though it's pretty easy to infer them by just continuing up the fretboard with the last pattern.

After the scales there are minor pentatonic exercises, then chord run exercises, then oddball patterns that the book calls "chromatic exercises."

I've altered my practices somewhat. Basically what I'm doing now is focusing hard on getting my speed up with one to three patterns using a metronome and focusing on accuracy and intonation. I'm using the hardest and least intuitive exercises in the book, scale tone thirds and four note coils. I figure focusing harder on the harder exercises will make everything easier. I figure if my performance with the harder exercises outpaces my performance on the easier ones, it will take me less time to catch up than the other way around.

I just leave my metronome on to fifty beats a minute sixteenths and just practice until I'm too tired to go on, practicing one song like Eleanor Rigby, the one I'm working now, (God what a great song!) whenever I get bored of running scales. I want to start on the chord runs because I think that will really help me to improvise. I may even put off the minor pentatonics until I'm happy with my performance with chord runs, even though the book puts the pentatonics after the major scales.

Basically I want to find the hardest exercises and drill them until I'm perfect, and only idly practicing songs until I feel that my skill level is good enough to start doing them more seriously. I don't want to practice like I used to practice, back when I was fooling around with a keyboard and violin, doing a scale or two, then songs over and over for the few hours that I practice. The scales and technical exercises will make me a better musician, so I want to focus on that.


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

"Coils" or "spirals" are just other words for sequences - patterns that repeat through a scale drill. If you number your scale 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, a sequence might go 1-2-3-2-3-4-3-4-5, or 1-3-5-4-3-2-4-6-5-4-3, etc. You can create tons of different sequences - I wrote an article for Acoustic Guitar magazine on using sequences (Jan 08, I think).

CAGED breaks the fretboard down into five scale fingerings, relating them to five open position chords. Like NETZOK said, it's one of many ways to break the fretboard into segments for learning fingering patterns. You can actually use as few as three (low neck - frets 0-4, mid neck - frets 5-9, and high neck - frets 9-12). You can use four (the fingerings with root on the the fifth or sixth string, played with the second or fourth finger). You can use five (CAGED). You can use seven (each pattern starts with a different note on the 6th string - some folks use mode names for these fingerings). You can use ten (start with the root under each finger on the sixth or fifth string; start with the root under the first or second finger on the fourth string - you can't start with the third finger on the fourth string, because that duplicates 6th string/1st finger). Or you can use eleven (in any key, 11 frets will contain at least one note in the major scale).

Now all of that can be confusing. But it's not - because it's not all that important what fingerings you use; what's important is that you learn the fretboard. Music consists of notes, not fingerings; if you can find all the notes in a key, you can play anything... it's just a matter of optimizing the way you play them :)

One last point: practicing scales (or arpeggios, technical drills, etc) will make you a better technician as a guitarist. If you want to be a better musician you also have to be able to apply them - so don't let the drills take up all your time. I tell my students a good practice session should have five parts: warm-up, review, working on new skills, "polishing" (getting things you can already play performance ready), and play time. Each one is important, and I advise saving play time for last - not because it isn't important, but because if you start with it, you tend to give short-shrift to the other parts.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@napsterbater)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Thanks NoteBoat, that's exactly what I was looking for! No need to go to CAGED after all. Kind of funny to go to the effort of learning the patterns for another scale just to go and learn a whole 'nother system! And thanks for the perspective on practice, it will go to good use!


   
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(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 827
 

I've got some of the Guitar Grimoire books (the scale book and the exercise book) and they differ from the CAGED system in that what is in the Grimoire books is not a system of any kind. The various books basically just contain a listing of many different scales (major, minor, common pentatonic, and then into just about every scale you could possibly construct) along with every fingering (both ascending and descending) for every possible root note of the scale. For many of these scales it also lists possible coils or patterns again with every fingering for every scale.

These books have some interesting information but they are incredibly repetitious.

As for Wes' question on why start at F? They do this because it's the scale you can play with the lowest fretted note.

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


   
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(@kaspen)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 57
 

I used the cage system the most, but to just chime in: learn it all. The point of every system is just to learn the fretboard. Whatever it takes man, as long as the result is that you on the spot can play any scale in any position.


   
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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

If you have the time, desire and ability to learn it all, knock yourself out.

If you don't, learning CAGED is a surefire shortcut and pretty easy to understand method of navigating the fretboard.

I find CAGED a bit too restrictive and prefer a simpler pattern based mnemonic that allows great movement up and down the neck. My personal favorite is Rosetta Stone of Guitar followed ever so closely by Planetalk. Both will work on their own, but if you combine a basic knowledge of scales with them you are good to go.

Some of us just prefer to think in patterns and pictures. For instance, I usually think of scale patterns in terms of chord shapes. If you consider D, Dm or A and Am... well you know the difference between a major and minor pattern on those string sets. Since you know the difference in major and minor is flattening the third, you know where the third is. If you can then identify where the root is, then anywhere you move that root note along that string and maintain the pattern gets you that quality of scale. I dunno, seems that three or four well placed notes often work better than an entire scale. Mixolydian, Locrian, who cares? Let's get crackin'. :D

Whatever works for you is good with me.


   
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(@napsterbater)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Thanks a lot guys!

I've been fooling around tonight with the C Major scale, and I was astonished at how quickly I understood the scale after spending so much time on F Major. The patterns just click into place when I start playing them. I just need to take it one scale at a time, and do plenty of repetition, and I think within notime I'll be able to do just like everyone says is the point of learning scales, learn every note on the fretboard and be able to do any scale from any starting position.

I'm learning C Major second because all the notes of the scale are also non-accidental notes. I don't even have to look at the book to figure the scale out. Just find the starting points for the patterns on the 1st string.

Sometimes I'll start to improvise over the scale and I can see with my mind the pattern I'm in and the next pattern up and down the fretboard. I just switch patterns when I care to, and before I know it, I'm playing all the notes in the F scale and nothing outside!

I love this instrument! So hard, but so rewarding once you figure something out!! And so much to learn!


   
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