Master the CAGED chord shapes in 8 steps!

The incredible CAGED system is the best way to organize the guitar fret board. Not only does it sort out all chords, you can also expand on this and build all arpeggios and modes as well.

Simply follow the eight steps of the self eliminating practice routine (S E P R) to map out the fret board, it will be the best thing you’ve ever done for your understanding of the guitar.


Open position chords – Step 1

It all starts with the open position chords.

There are ten available, you probably know eight of them already, so this step will be completed soon.

Go to Open position chords – Step 1.


Barre chords – Step 2

Let’s take the ten open position chords and turn them into barre chord shapes.

This is where the rubber meets the road, this is where you will start to understand the guitar fret board.

Go to Barre chords – Step 2.


Connect barre chords – Step 3

This step is the first real test, when you can connect all barre chord shapes, you can move on.

Videos demonstrate this using E, A, D, G and C as a starting point. To complete this step, you must do this to F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb and B as well. Minor and major of course!

Go to Connect barre chords – Step 3.


Extend barre chords – Step 4

Let’s extend all our CAGED barre chords to min7, maj7, dom7 and the awkward min7b5.

Videos demonstrate this at the same time as we climb up through all shapes, just like you did in step 3.

Go to Extend barre chords – Step 4.


Extended chords closest possible shape – Step 5

In this step, we move to the closest possible shape using the cycle of 4th in a new way.

Starting with an A chord at the 5th fret we play the E shape, A shape, D shape, G shape and C shape before we start again on fret 6, with an E shaped Bb.

Go to Extended chords closest possible shape – Step 5.


Chords around Ionian up and down – Step 6

It’s time to start playing in a key. In this step we play all chords up and down the major scale.

That’s all five positions of the CAGED system. Videos are in A, you’re ready to move on when you can do it in all keys.

Go to Chords around Ionian up and down – Step 6.


Chords around Ionian cycle of 4th & 3rd – Step 7

Just like in step 6, we are playing all our extended barre chords around the major scale (Ionian).

However, now we play using the cycle of 4th and 3rd. To complete the step, practice in all twelve keys.

Go to Chords around Ionian cycle of 4th & 3rd – Step 7.


Chords master exercise – Step 8

The final step, practice these exercises as the videos demonstrate and you will master your CAGED chords.

If you play in the 11 remaining keys that is!

Go to Chords master exercise – Step 8.

Dan Lundholm

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