Guide CAGED and Scales for Guitar

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Learn 17 Essential Strum Patterns.


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This is the most common fingering for a major scale. It is usually the first one that is learned by most guitar players.

Guitar - Major Scale - 5 CAGED Patterns (Positions)

In order to train your ear to hear the notes in relationship to the root, it is a good idea as part of your practice routine to hold the root note a little longer that the other notes. This is a movable major chord shape, based on an open E. And finally link the 5th G to the 1st E pattern Once you have the patterns memorized for a number of different roots and therefore keys , you can try the following exercises to link the patterns together.

The CAGED System 2: The Major Scale and the Minor Pentatonic Scale | Strung Out? Fret Not!

In this example I'm using C major, starting on the 1st pattern 8th fret and moving through the other 4 patterns back to the 1st pattern an octave higher 20th fret. The fingering is in blue as you can see it's a repetitive 1 2 4 fingering pattern Try also working down these exercises from high to low. Use a metronome and increase by 10bpm once you can play at the current tempo flawlessly. This merging of the patterns will allow for more fluid, quicker movements across the fretboard and the use of legato techniques such as sliding.

Learning Scales Using CAGED

As for which position to start on - this isn't really important. Just find a root and work from there, see where it takes you.


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I've got into the habit of finding roots on the E and A strings. If it helps you memorize the fretboard, then great, but when you come to learning scales and chords with sharp and flat intervals, you'll need to either adjust these major CAGED patterns or start a fresh set of patterns using the scale's intervals. And don't forget to work on 3 notes per string patterns , which allow you to navigate scales in a far more efficient, economical way, allowing for elaborate legato runs, for example.

Guitar Courses

The important thing is, with any patterns you learn, that you can identify the root on at least the E and A strings and work on merging these "box" patterns to allow free and unrestricted movement across the fretboard. This gets even harder when you have to think about these positions in twelve different keys. By getting used to the relationship between the chords and the scales you will start to realise that remembering these scale positions and being able to find them in any key becomes a lot easier.

The Guitarist's Guide to the CAGED System

Study the diagrams below and practice playing with these chord shapes and scales across the fretboard. It might seem a lot of work at first but you will get used to it quite quickly. The CAGED guitar system is a great method to help you find your way around the neck so keep at it and in a few months you should playing the guitar without thinking.