Chords Course

Master the CAGED chord shapes in 8 steps

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

Follow the 8 steps of the self-eliminating practice routine (S E P R) to map out the fretboard, it will be the best thing you’ve ever done for your understanding of the guitar.

Open-position chords – Step 1

Open-position chords guitar lesson.

It all starts with the open-position chords. What you have to do is understand and be able to visualize them, some are impossible to play!

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

Barre chords – Step 2

Barre chords guitar lesson.

Let’s take the ten open-position chords and turn them into barre chords shapes. Again, you must be able to visualize them, some are impossible to play!

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

Connect barre chords – Step 3

Connect barre chords, guitar lesson.

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

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!

Extend barre chords – Step 4

Extend barre chords, guitar lesson.

Let’s extend all CAGED barre chords to min7, maj7, dom7, and the awkward min7b5. These are all possible to play!

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

Extended chords closest possible shape – Step 5

Extended chords, guitar lesson.

In this step, we move to the closest possible shape using the cycle of 4th in a new way. When you can do this, move on to the next step.

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.

Chords around Ionian up and down – Step 6

Chords around Ionian up and down, guitar lesson.

It’s time to start playing in a key. In this step, we play all chords up and down the major scale. When you can do it, move on!

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.

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

Chords around Ionian cycle of 4th & 3rd, guitar lesson.

Just like in step 6, we are playing all our extended barre chords around the major scale (Ionian). When you can do it, you’re almost there!

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

Chords master exercise – Step 8

Chords master exercise, guitar lesson.

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

When you can play in the 11 remaining keys, you can stop practising chords and instead move on to developing guitar parts for tunes.