CAGED System - 5 Reasons Why & 4 Exercises

caged system practice Jul 28, 2023

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The CAGED system is a powerful and easy-to-learn method for navigating the guitar neck. In this blog post, we will explore five compelling reasons why every guitarist should be familiar with the CAGED system and four practice exercises to master it. By understanding and applying this system, you'll gain the ability to play various chord voicings up the neck, expand your inspiration and creativity, easily determine capo placements, and access instant soloing across the fretboard.

Understanding the CAGED System

Before diving into the reasons and exercises, let's briefly review the CAGED system. This system utilizes five basic major chord shapes - C major, A major, G major, E major, and D major - represented by the acronym CAGED. By moving these chord shapes up and down the neck, guitarists can play the same chord in different positions and voicings, providing flexibility and versatility in their playing.

The 5 Reasons to Master the CAGED System

1. Diverse Chord Voicings: Playing in a band setting often requires different chord voicings to complement other instruments. The CAGED system allows you to switch between various chord shapes, avoiding redundancy and enriching your sound.

2. Enhanced Inspiration: Different chord forms can inspire unique musical ideas. The voicing of a chord can affect your improvisation and lead to fresh musical discoveries, making your playing more interesting and dynamic.

3. Thickening Up Tracks: When recording in the studio, using different chord voicings can add depth and richness to the overall sound of a song. The CAGED system empowers you to choose chords that suit the arrangement and create a more professional and engaging track.

4. Capo Placement: The CAGED system also helps you determine where to place your capo for transposing chords and playing in different keys. By knowing the various chord forms, you can efficiently use a capo to match the song's desired key.

5. Instant Soloing Across the Neck: While this article focuses on chords, the same chord shapes can be used to outline the pentatonic scale, making soloing across the fretboard more accessible. Understanding the CAGED system lays a solid foundation for fluid and creative soloing.

Mastering the CAGED System with 4 Practice Exercises

1. Ascending Exercise: Start by ascending the neck, playing the C form, A form, G form, E form, and D form chords in order. Repeat this pattern as you move up the neck, reinforcing muscle memory and chord transitions. The goal is to be quick and accurate with these shifts.

2. Descending Exercise: Now, reverse the ascending exercise, playing the D form, E form, G form, A form, and C form chords in that order as you move down the neck. This exercise enhances your ability to visualize and play the chords in any direction.

3. Skipping Exercise Ascending: Challenge yourself by skipping chords in the CAGED sequence. For example, go from C form to G form, then A form to E form, and so on. Practicing this exercise will improve your proficiency with non-sequential chord transitions.

4. Skipping Exercise Descending: Same as above, but going backward this time.  Visualize the chord shapes overlapping and connecting on the fretboard. Mentally map the transitions from one chord form to the next, creating a smooth and seamless connection between each shape. This exercise also reinforces the relationship between the forms and their positions on the neck.


The CAGED system is a game-changer for guitarists, providing a comprehensive and versatile approach to navigating the fretboard. By mastering the CAGED system, you can expand your chord vocabulary, enhance your musical inspiration, and access instant soloing opportunities. Practice the suggested exercises regularly to develop fluency and agility in utilizing the CAGED system. Embrace the CAGED system and open the door to limitless creative possibilities in your guitar playing. Happy practicing!

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