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The CAGED System

If you have never heard of the CAGED system before, by the time you have read through and learned this section. You’ll understand why many consider the inventors of the guitar tuning system among the unsung heroes in the music industry.


When the five basic chord forms of C, A, G, E, D are arranged along the length of the fretboard, they produce a contiguous C-A-G-E-D sequence that provides the player a failsafe method of finding their way around the neck, form by form.


No matter which form or position you are using. The CAGED system is all around you. It repeats at the twelfth fret and continuous until you run out of fret board.


Each form in the sequence is the exact same chord musically, play five different ways. The end of one form is the beginning of the next.

In order to convey the structure of the CAGED sequence, we have jumped some what out of order by naming, or identifying musically, some chords without having laid the proper ground work for this. Naming chords is taken up in a future lesson.


While you play each form of the CAGED sequence, visualize the forms that are adjacent to it. Keep in mind that you are traversing the fretboard form by form, as opposed to position by position. If your hand gets tired from the constant pressure, just lay your fingers on the strings with little or no pressure applied and proceed through the sequence.


The end of each form is the beginning of the next. The sequence never changes relative to itself. In other words. It can start in any position, with any of the basic forms and the others will be in the same location relative to it. Once you have established any form in any position, you should be able to recognize the sequence starting with the next form directly above and below the one you are playing.


Only the CAGED sequence starting with the open C and G form are diagrammed but you should be familiar with the concept as a whole.


For an exercise practice starting with A, E, & D forms in the open positions.

The practice starting the forms in the middle positions and do the sequence in both directions. Practice the sequence first reading the diagrams then once you feel confident practice the sequence away from the diagrams.


All chord forms in the sequence are completely separate from each other except for the C and D forms, which share a note on the second string.

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