IN THE WOODSHED
Expand your major chord knowledge across the fretboard and improve finger fluency with the CAGED system, with Charlie Griffiths.
Charlie Griffiths unmasks the frequently misunderstood CAGED system, unlocking the fretboard for both rhythm and lead.
First make sure you are familiar with the five open chord shapes as this is the foundation upon which all of the following chords are built. If you already know the shapes then spend some time looking a bit deeper at them. Each of the open chords contains a collection of roots, 3rds and 5ths. The open C chord for example has a root, 3rd, 5th, root, 3rd from low to high. Being able to name all of the intervals and notes in a chord shape is very useful as this will allow you to adapt and add to the shapes.
Example 2 focuses on moving up and down the neck using all five of the CAGED shapes. The general rule here is to finger the open chord shapes using the second, third and fourth fingers then use your first finger to fret what would have been an open string. This example shows the C chord in six different places, but of course this method can be applied to any major chord from A to G#. Pick a chord, any chord, and see if you can play it as close to the nut as possible, then move up the neck one position at a time. Remember that the lowest position won’t always be a C shape; the system can start with any shape.
Example 3 shows the real efficiency of the CAGED system. The idea is that you should be able to find any chord progression at any position on the fretboard. Here we have shown a C-F-G progression in five different places. Each one of them uses three of the five different shapes to change chords efficiently. You might notice that we have adapted the D and G shaped chords and made them slash chords. This essentially means that the 3rd interval is the lowest note and not the root note. This makes them more playable and helps them blend with the other chords sonically.
Examples 4 and 5 have an extra note added to the triads. For the maj7 chords we add a maj7th interval (1-3-5-7) and for the Dominant 7 chords we add a minor 7th
(1-3-5-b7). interval For these examples the root notes move in a predetermined manner. We have chosen 4ths and 5ths, which are quite common ways chords move around. You can try any other interval jumps such as 3rds or 6ths to test your chord change chops. This challenges your mind and your fingers in equal measure, and with practice you will become quicker at visually navigating the fretboard as well as the physical aspect of getting your fingers around the inevitably awkward manoeuvres. NeXT MONTH Charlie continues exploring the CAGED system, this time in minor form
Fretboard fluency is available via the caged system