Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #2651  by abspatz
 Thu Dec 29, 2005 11:07 pm
so here i am confused as hell and trying to grasp some of the initial lessons of guitar theory. i've had a friend talk about the ideas behind CAGED and how it can increase my skill in playing. anybody care to elaborate on this idea and how it can be implemented? thanks!
 #2652  by lyghtningod
 Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:43 am
Here's a few tips for you.

First, look at a G chord. The 2, 3 and 4 string make a G chord by themselves. If you bar those three strings you've got an A chord. With the bar in place with your first finger, place your third finger on the fifth string, 4th fret. (A C# note). Now, you can play all your G licks in this position. Fill in the chord, so your little finger goes on the sixth string, 5th fret.

All this sounds hard, if you're just starting out, but it will pay dividends in the future.

With this new type A chord, all your G licks are accessible.

Now move all this up to the fifth fret. Now you have a C chord, and all your G licks are available there.

YOu can do the same thing with a C chord, using your first finger as a bar to create a D chord, which moves up and down the fret board in the same manner as the G to A move.

I'll stop there for now, so you can look at it and see if it makes sense.

The CAGED system makes use of this to make all scales, licks and moves available all over the fret board, in all keys.

 #20146  by d-v-s
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:59 am
i've heard the term "caged" system used a lot on this site, but i haven't been able to find a good description of what it is.

I've never had lessons, or any musical training (besides all the help from the gurus here at RUKind), so I'm just learning things as they present themselves to me.

Is this basically just a system of moving the 5 open chords around? i.e. playing an E in the C form at the 7th fret, like this.


I'm searching the internet for info on this, but I was wondering if any of the folks here had any useful comments on the CAGED system and it's uses.

Is there more to it than just the chord forms and locations?

 #20149  by germfisk
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 5:42 am
There was a discussion on this site a few weeks ago, and I can't remember the exact topic, but someone in it posted a link to a website from Tom Verlaine of Television. His website has some good lessons, and very good explanations and exercises involving the CAGED system.

 #20150  by ronster
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 6:07 am
Is this basically just a system of moving the 5 open chords around?
Yes, but is actually only 3 chord shapes. The C and D and the A and G are basically identical shapes.
Is there more to it than just the chord forms and locations?
Along with the notes from the chord form you also have the usual notes that are in the scale of that chord. These are the notes that you would normally play with that chord shape while fingerpicking a tune. Just an easier way to learn your scales all over the neck. I learned it on my own before I ever heard of it called the CAGED system by learning to fingerpick Jorma (Gary Davis) tunes.

Jorma has great online video instruction (for a monthly charge) at or go to
for tabs of his songs:

 #20171  by BOUKINATOR
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:06 am
here's an EASY explanation...

you start with an open C chord... now following the spelling of CAGED the next position up of a C chord will be "A form" .. so you bar the 3rd fret and make an "open A shaped" chord with your ring finger (X35553)... further, then next C chord up will be "G form" .. this one's a bit difficult (875558) but you can cheat and just play the the bottom or top 5 strings... move on through the E and D forms before returning to the "C form" again which would actually be barred now (fun "Bobby" chord)

this idea applies to ALL QUALITIES of chords i.e. major, minor, sevenths, diminished... learn this technique and you'll quickly be able to play any chord in any position

p.s. GOOD VIBES TO MARK KARAN!!![/size][/size]

 #20194  by d-v-s
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:14 pm
BOUKINATOR wrote:here's an EASY explanation...
this idea applies to ALL QUALITIES of chords i.e. major, minor, sevenths, diminished...
Can someone run me through the CAGED forms for the minors?

I got tha A, E and D form, I think.






What would be the C and G forms?

 #20204  by strumminsix
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:55 pm
addding onto Boukinator....

Think of it like this. Make the shape of your open chord without your index finger. From there move it up a half step at a time up the neck. So an A will be an A# at the first fret and a B at the second fret.

 #20210  by Chief5959
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:47 pm
The lessons are on Richard Lloyd of Television's web site not Verlaine. Lloyd has a lot of good stuff their to help our playing. A Verlaine lesson would be really cool though.

 #20228  by ronster
 Wed Jul 11, 2007 5:57 pm
What would be the C and G minor forms?
There are none that can be easly fingered. Just use the one you show Am, Em, and Dm. The C and D and the G and A are basically using the same shapes anyway.

 #20951  by toastandjam
 Fri Jul 20, 2007 1:06 pm
germfisk wrote:There was a discussion on this site a few weeks ago, and I can't remember the exact topic,
I dont think there was a video posted, but I was provided with a really decent explanation in a thread I started a little while ago. You can access it:
Another invaluable skill is to learn all of the arpeggio patterns up and down the neck, if you are familiar with CAGED, the system for naming chords up and down the neck, this will be somewhat familiar, if not it shouldnt be too hard to get. Although I learned it best in the form of EDCAG which is just starting off the E shape chord.

The abbreviations stand for chord shapes, as they appear in open position. The E shape, the D shape and so on and so forth. This is a E shaped arpeggio pattern. Starting in the Key of F, this would be played like this


Next, still in the key of F, moved up a little further is the next form, a D form.


Next pattern to hit would be the C form, moving further up the fretboard.


Then you will have the A form pattern


and last is the G form pattern, completing the sequence


Now what you can do is run these everyday, connecting them all together, starting off as they are in first position in the key of F and then move it all up one fret at a time to keep going up chromatically. Knowing these arpeggio patterns inside and out will be a huge tool for you.

Also, if you want you can break these exercises down into a smaller arpeggio pattern using just the three main notes for a major chord, 1, 3 and 5.


Now its also a good idea to practice other chord forms, such as Fm arpeggio

The real key here is that, if you write out the actual notes next to the tab (a good idea), you'll find that everything you're playing in each arpeggio (in this case, for F) is F, C, and A. Which are the 1, 3, 5 that make up your F Chord. Convenience all around.

Once you've got them down (i mostly do) start experimenting with consistently flatting the third, or changing a single note. Then change it back. Do that on time and you've got some basic key changes down, if I understand correctly.

 #20979  by CaptainTrips
 Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:56 am
Cool! I remember that post. Im glad that it helped you, and I hope it can help any others. :cool:

 #20980  by jackr
 Sat Jul 21, 2007 4:10 am
Does anyone know if this is actually really good. I have read very good testimonials even from experianced player that it has helped them a lot.

Fretboard logic by Bill Edwards ... =102345444

 #20987  by shakedown_04092
 Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:31 am
It better be good for $90, but I wouldn't waste your money unless it's burning a hole in your pocket. There's enough here on the internet to get you where you need to be.

 #21032  by jackr
 Sat Jul 21, 2007 6:37 pm
I can find it on ebay for $40 or so. Just wanted to know if anyone has used it. I like learning from books and not just the internet.