Cracking the CAGED System

I’m often heard describing the CAGED system as: “˜The single most important thing I ever learnt about playing the guitar…’

There’s an element of salesmanship, in the way I use this description, when I’m introducing the CAGED system to a student for the first time. I see this as necessary because I appreciate that it is not immediately obvious exactly what the CAGED system is, nor what it is good for.

Let’s attempt to address the second issue first. If you ask me “˜What’s it good for?’ I think the best answer I can give is: “˜It’s good for finding things on the guitar fretboard.
Think of a five-drawer filing cabinet, but instead of the drawers being full of old correspondence and copies of long-expired legal contracts and things, it has folders with much more interesting (to the guitarist) labels, such as: “˜Chords’, “˜Scales’, “˜Licks’, “˜Riffs’, “˜Arpeggios’ and “˜Modes’. Also; quite unlike any filing cabinet I have ever actually been personally in charge of; everything in the “˜CAGED’ filing cabinet is beautifully and elegantly organised and always found in exactly the place it should be!

The CAGED system is taught in a wide variety of ways simply because it has a wide variety of applications. It is a system that is both very powerful and very adaptable.

However, because it is powerful and adaptable it can easily be presented to the student of guitar as being more complicated than it really is. This is a little ironic, as the CAGED system is really a system for simplifying learning the guitar!’

I think the problem arises because the use you are able to make of the CAGED system is dependent upon other areas of knowledge – especially guitar music theory knowledge.

So, how you use the CAGED system may ultimately be unlimited, but initially it will mostly depend upon what level of understanding you have of guitar music theory.

With this in mind, I set out to record a video lesson that enabled guitar students to make good use of the CAGED system at the lowest possible point of entry – i.e. at a level where little, if anything needs to be known about guitar music theory. Here’s “Part 1:”

In this video, as well as in the following “CAGED system Parts 2,” I’ll show you how to use the CAGED system simply to find notes on the fretboard. For example: to find all the “˜C’ notes on the fretboard – how long would that take you do you think? If the answer is greater than about five seconds then you will find this video lesson useful, interesting and immediately applicable.

And here’s the second video:

But, more importantly, both these videos will hopefully help you gain a very good understanding of the CAGED system and what it actually is! You will, metaphorically speaking, take delivery of a shiny, brand new five-drawer filing cabinet that magically organises itself!

It’ll then be up to you, over time, to fill it up with other musically useful things.

Hope that has whetted your appetite for the videos…because, did I already mention that the CAGED system is probably the single most important thing I ever learnt about playing the guitar…?