A few years into playing guitar, I always wanted to know how musicians could remember all the scales on the fret board. Luckily, the CAGED system makes remembering scales easily.
CAGED system definition? The CAGED system is broken down into SEVEN patterns which you call shapes. These SEVEN shapes are; A shape (1), A shape (2) C shape, D Shape, E shape (1), E shape (2) and G shape. They make memorising all the notes of the fret board easy for whichever key you are playing in so that improvising possible for every position on the fret board.
The CAGED system is something my guitar teacher was crazy about, and after learning it for yourself, you can see why. In this post, I will show you the seven CAGED system shapes and how you use them.
1. What is the Caged System
The caged system is broken down into seven shapes. A shape (1), A shape (2) C shape, D Shape, E shape (1), E shape (2) and G shape.
These shapes are played in five positions as the A shape and E shape consist of two positions each. You have the A shape (1) and the E shape (1) which is the first position. The A shape (2) and the E shape (2) is the second position.
2. Why is the CAGED System Important?
The CAGED system allows us to know what notes to play in any given jamming situation and improvisation. Some people will tell you, that you have to feel it with your heart when you are playing, which is definitely true, but you cannot put your heart and soul into your playing without knowing which notes to play.
This is because you have got to play in key, else your playing will sound like a mess.
The CAGED system is important as it gives you the notes at your disposal, making you able to be creative with those notes, and melodies you wish to create.
3. Notes on the Fret Board
Okay, before we go into the CAGED System it is important to understand the roots of the major scale, and to do that we need to understand more about the notes in music.
So the building blocks of everything we hear is made from the standard music notes. Starting from C these are:
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
3.1 The Fret Board (Standard Tuning)
It is important to note there is no B# and E#. However, you can see they all follow a pattern of the alphabet. So that you only have to remember the six strong on the guitar and you can work out every note on the fret board.
4. The Major Scale
The major scale is made from most things we hear today and lays the groundwork from every scale across the world, including harmonic and melodic minor, to the Chinese, African, South American and Egyptian sounds heard right across the world.
For example: if we want to play some blues and we want to have the pentatonic sound then the position is the same, but we avoid and flatten certain notes.
The major scale actually makes up of 6 other scales (Natural Major, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixo-lydian, natural minor and locrian). By which all we do is change the chord voicing. Okay, so it may sound more complicated, but the truth is it is super easy and I will show you throughout this post.
4.1 Tones and Semi-tones
A tone is moving two frets on the fret board, whilst a semi-tone is just moving one fret on the fret board.
As you can see Tones go from F to G, whilst Semi – Tones go from F to F#
4.2 Major Scale Formula
The Major Scale is a formula that you apply to the fret board and consist of a Tone, Tone, Semi-tone, Tone, Tone Tone Semi-tone).
T – T - ST - T - T – T – ST
The starting note is called the root note and it defines what key we are playing. If you apply this formula to the fret board, you will see how the major scale is made. Whereby, the octave is 8 and so it repeats itself over again.
4.3 C Major Scale Demonstration
C (Tone) D (Tone) E (Semi-tone) F (Tone) G (Tone) A (Tone) B (Semi-tone) C (Octave)
4.4 Major Scales Overview
C: C, D,
E, F, G, A, B, C
C#/Db: C#, D#, E#, F#, G#, A#, B#, C# / Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C, Db
D: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D
D#/Eb: D#, E#, F##, G#, A#, B#, C##, D# / Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb
E: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E
F: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F
F#/Gb: F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E#, F# / Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F, Gb
G: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G
G#/Ab: G#, A#, B#, C#, D#, E#, F##, G# / Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab
A: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A
A#/Bb: A#, B#, C##, D#, E#, F##, G##, A# / Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb
B: B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B
I know we didn’t talk about flats before which is the [ b ] cymbal, which is basically the same as the sharpe [ # ] looking backwards instead of forwards. People have their own preferences but I personally prefer to think of these notes as sharps rather than flats.
5. A Shape (CAGED System Shape 1) In Key Of C Major
The A shape is referring to the A chord that surrounds the scale, and it is broken into 2 shapes. This means you have A shape part 1, and A shape part 2. I will cover both of these in turn but before that you need to know the A chord.
5.1 CAGED System A Shape Chord
The above diagram is the most common A shape major chord. The red represents the root note.
5.2 CAGED System A Shape [Part 1] Scale
5.3 CAGED System A Shape [Part 2] Scale
5. G Shape (CAGED System Shape 2) In Key Of C Major
Again, the G shape is referring to the chord that surrounds the scale. Unlike the previous A shape, the G shape is only 1 position.
5.1 CAGED System G Shape Chord
5.2 CAGED System G Shape Scale
6. E Shape (CAGED System Shape 3) In Key Of C Major
The E shape is just like the A shape and has in made of two positions. This means you have E shape position 1 and E shape position 2.
6.1 CAGED System E Shape Chord
6.2 CAGED System E Shape [Part 1] Scale
6.3 CAGED System E Shape [Part 2] Scale
7. D Shape (CAGED System Shape 4) In Key Of C Major
The D shape has only 1 position.
7.1 CAGED System D Shape Chord
7.2 CAGED System D Shape Scale
8. C Shape (CAGED System Shape 5) In Key Of C Major
The A shape is referring to the chord that surrounds the scale, and it is broken into 2 shapes. This means you have A shape part 1 and A shape part 2. I will cover both of these in turn but before that you need to know the A chord.