The C.A.G.E.D. System

Intro to the CAGED System

The guitar when tuned to standard tuning (low to high strings: E,A,D,G,B and E) can be covered by five major chord shapes, these are, in ascending order C, A, G, E and D. These are the ONLY five Natural Major Triad Chords that can be played open on a guitar in standard tuning.

What about B and F?

Well F is just an E shape barred at the 1st fret and B is just an A shape barred at the 2nd.
Just think about what that means for a second. You can learn the entire fret board in just 5 steps, this will enable you to play a scale in every possible position on the neck.

So how does this related to ‘CAGED’?

Well let’s have a look at the major chords of C, A, G, E and D.

C Major

If you were to play an open C Major chord on your guitar using a C Shape, the next position you can play the chord of C is by using an A Shape barred at the 3rd fret, the next place is a G shape barred at the 5th fret, the next position is an E shape barred at the 8th fret and finally a D Shape barred at the 10th fret. Of course all this also applies if you capo the relevant frets instead of barring. Try it on your guitar.

You now know every single position of the chord of C Major on the neck of your guitar. Not bad for a first lesson!

Here’s the same thing in table form:

Chord Barre at Fret Use this Shape
C Open C
3 A
5 G
8 E
10 D

What about the other four chords?

Well they follow the same CAGED pattern just starting on a different letter, so A Major would follow AGEDC and the chord of G would follow GEDCA. Let’s have a closer look…

A Major

Play an open A Major chord on your guitar using an A Shape, the next position you can play an A is using a G Shape barred at the 2nd fret, next is an E shape barred at the 5th fret, next is an D shape barred at the 7th fret and finally a C Shape barred at the 9th fret. Here’s the same thing in table form:

Chord Barre at Fret Use this Shape
A Open A
2 G
5 E
7 D
9 C

For your reference here are the remaining chords in table form, although you should be well on your way to working these out for yourself by now.

Chord Barre at Fret Use this Shape
G Open G
3 E
5 D
7 C
10 A

Chord Barre at Fret Use this Shape
E Open E
2 D
4 C
7 A
9 G

Chord Barre at Fret Use this Shape
D Open D
2 C
5 A
7 G
10 E

By now you should know how to work out all the positions of these five major chords using the ‘CAGED’ system.