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View Full Version : CAGED Chords... Best way to practice them?


g0phish
02-07-2012, 07:54 PM
I already know how to make shapes of CAGED chords, but would like to easily be able to use them while I am jamming. Any tips on getting more familiar with them? Do you just count from where the chord of "E" or "A" shaped chord is, or do you do something different?

My goal is that I'd like to feel comfortable knowing where a D shaped G chord and a C shaped D chord are while playing

JonR
02-07-2012, 08:23 PM
I suggest taking a chord sequence and working it in various different positions on the neck - whatever position you choose, try to find shapes for every chord within a 3 or 4 fret space.
That's the beauty of the CAGED system - it's not designed to let you run up and down the neck with any one chord, but to play every chord in any one position without moving your hand more than a fret either way.
At least, this is possible with majors (which each have 5 possible shapes) but minors are more problematic. There are only 3 full shapes (Am, Em, Dm) and you need to use partial shapes or arpeggios for the others, if you want to stay in position.

Eg, you don't need to know "a D shaped G chord" while playing, unless you are already playing in or near the position where a G major chord needs a D shape - IOW between 5th and 8th fret. There's not a lot of point in just jumping up to that position if everything else you're playing is in open position (or jumping down to it if everything else is up around 10th or 12th fret).

So, if you're playing in the key of G, you could choose to play at 5th fret. That means a D shape for G, a G shape for C and an A shape for D. And an Em shape for Am if you get one.
Alternatively, you could choose to play in 7th position (frets 7-10), where a G chord is a C shape, a C chord is an E shape (on 8th fret), and a D chord is a G shape - and Am would be a Dm shape, and Em would be an Am shape.

(That looks terribly confusing written out like that, but try it on the fretboard. Remember that all those chord shapes, together, plot out the major scale pattern of the key in that position.)

Funky54
02-07-2012, 08:36 PM
I use to play stupid simple three chord wonders using different voicings on purpose to get use to not only where they are, but what flavors they bring and how to make my hands comfy to get different sounds with each shape.

Like, play Wild Thing using only the C shape, then do it using the D shape. Do it a couple times through each day before you practice other stuff.

Then just start using those voicings with other shapes playing simple songs until you naturaly can move around with different shapes without thinking much.

I tend to do a lot with the D shape. I tend to do a lot of arppegios with the C shape.

All the Badfinger stuff is great for mixing the C & D shape with you regular E and A shape bar chords. A lot of their arppegios and solos were out of the C and D shapes.. Baby Blue, No Matter What.

Clifford-D
02-07-2012, 08:48 PM
Here's a different way to view the very same notes in the CAGED system

It's all there in three C major arps

-0---------3----------8----------12
-1---------5----------8----------13
-0---------5----------9----------12
-2---------5---------10----------14
-3---------7---------10----------15
-3---------8---------12----------15

anderson110
02-07-2012, 11:41 PM
Eg, you don't need to know "a D shaped G chord" while playing, unless you are already playing in or near the position where a G major chord needs a D shape - IOW between 5th and 8th fret. There's not a lot of point in just jumping up to that position if everything else you're playing is in open position (or jumping down to it if everything else is up around 10th or 12th fret).


An exception to this is that the different shapes are amenable to different extensions and embellishments. For example in a "Hendrixy" style you might be hammering or pulling different extensions to the basic chords, and the different shapes each have their own convenient "moves" to apply to them. This might encourage you to grab a specific shape for the purpose of playing around with it in a particular way.

tweedster
02-08-2012, 11:12 AM
I drill every day with Rhythm Changes (C-Am-Dm-G) in all 5 positions on the neck, starting with C in the "A shape" (root on 5th string 3rd fret). I try to keep everything in a 4 fret span. Sometimes I will add the 7 or 6 to add variety when C and Am area little too close sounding. I then repeat the Exercise with C-F-Bm7b5-E-Am-Dm-G-C.

Later, I repeat the exercise with triads using different string sets. I find a metronome, and picking individual notes in triplets very useful.

guitarjazz
02-08-2012, 01:10 PM
Here's a different way to view the very same notes in the CAGED system

It's all there in three C major arps

-0---------3----------8----------12
-1---------5----------8----------13
-0---------5----------9----------12
-2---------5---------10----------14
-3---------7---------10----------15
-3---------8---------12----------15
Nice. I like it. So simple yet not so obvious to me , the Hellen Keller of guitar. Thanks.

JonR
02-08-2012, 01:18 PM
An exception to this is that the different shapes are amenable to different extensions and embellishments. For example in a "Hendrixy" style you might be hammering or pulling different extensions to the basic chords, and the different shapes each have their own convenient "moves" to apply to them. This might encourage you to grab a specific shape for the purpose of playing around with it in a particular way.Very true. I was thinking of a briefer trip to a different position.
Generally speaking I thinking staying around in one position long enough to play a couple of phrases at least is usually a good idea. Exploit what one shape or position can do, then move to another (if necessary).
This is all pretty much common sense I guess... (You only have to watch what pros do to get a good idea of how to use position changes wisely - and what effects they have, of course.)

vhollund
02-08-2012, 01:19 PM
What I did was to learn, first the tonic of each shape,
So that if I have a note on the b string I know its a D shape etc

Then I memorized from wich interval they have the new function
Ex a major triad played from the M3 of the l chord, makes a M7,b6

Just memorise it

And offcourse listen to the sound of it

Clifford-D
02-08-2012, 02:40 PM
Nice. I like it. So simple yet not so obvious to me , the Hellen Keller of guitar. Thanks.
Yea, The CAGED chords can be simplified down to those three arps

As a bonus each triad arp snakes through all inversions of the chord, in this case C

Glad you see what I saw. Nice and simple

vhollund
02-08-2012, 02:41 PM
yes 3 positions

Clifford-D
02-08-2012, 02:48 PM
Another CAGED chord trick shown to me by Steve Kimock

start with the C shape (of a D chord)

-2
-3
-2
-
-
-

bring the SHAPE down to the bottom strings

-
-
-
-2
-3
-2

next take it up one whole step

-
-
-
-4
-5
-4

Last is to raise the sixth string up 1/2 step

-
-
-
-4
-5
-5

Notice that these are the same chord and inversion (2nd inversion)
combine that with the shape from when you started and you get this -
the completion of the C shape of the CAGED chords

-2 - 3rd
-3 - R
-2 - 5th
-4 - 3rd
-5 - R
-5 - 5th

You arrive at the same triadic arp that I posted a little earlier in post #4
But Steve splits the six strings into two sets of three, top and bottom.
Very cool way to think graphically.

Thanks Steve

lhallam
02-08-2012, 02:52 PM
...another useful "way" of practicing CAGED chords is to play: I with root in bass, then I with 3 in bass, then I with 5 in bass, then I with 7 in bass (ascending bass run). Repeat same with IV and V chords. Then, reverse and do it as a descending bass run.

...you'll soon learn which of the CAGED chords "...fit where..." soon enough.


Exactly, one needs to know where the root falls in each CAGED position and the names of the notes all over the neck.

OP root = name of the chord.

So if you know that the root note of this shape is the open E string (E chord)

-0--
-0--
-1--
-2--
-2--
-0-- ROOT

and you know that the 5th fret on the E string = A then you know that if you play the same E shape with the index barred on the 5th fret, you are playing an A chord using an E position barre chord

----5--
----5--
----6--
----7--
----7--
----5-- ROOT

For a C position, the root is 3rd fret A string = C chord, to play a D using the same position you need to know that 5th fret on the A string = D

C D
-0---------2---------
-1---------3---------
-0---------2---------
-2---------4---------
-3---------5--------- ROOT
-0---------2---------

For A position the root is the open A string, so 5th fret on the A string =D so A position barred on 5th fret = D chord

-0----5--
-2----7--
-2----7--
-2----7--
-0----5-- ROOT
-0----5--

guitarjazz
02-08-2012, 05:22 PM
Yea, The CAGED chords can be simplified down to those three arps

As a bonus each triad arp snakes through all inversions of the chord, in this case C

Glad you see what I saw. Nice and simple
Now I'm going to do that to the other three triad types.

Clifford-D
02-08-2012, 07:25 PM
I forgot to say , any chord type on the top three strings works the same way on the bottom three strings as in post #13

-3
-3
-4
---5
---5
---7

-3
-3
-3
---5
---5
---6

-2
-3
-4
---4
---5
---7

etc...

Neer
02-08-2012, 07:33 PM
In a cage, of course.

Clifford-D
02-08-2012, 07:51 PM
who's in a cage?

guitarjazz
02-08-2012, 08:21 PM
I forgot to say , any chord type on the top three strings works the same way on the bottom three strings as in post #13

-3
-3
-4
---5
---5
---7

-3
-3
-3
---5
---5
---6

-2
-3
-4
---4
---5
---7

etc...

You are officially 'the man'. ( maybe share with SK)
I love seeing new facets to things I know so well.

Sensible Musician
02-08-2012, 08:34 PM
the best way to practice that stuff is as follows

take the low octave of the G and E shapes respectively and associate the sounds with static fingerings

drill on actual tunes and tonal patterns using only those two, one-octave shapes over the whole guitar, understanding that there is a one-fret conversion every time you cross the gap between (2) and (3)

that's it. better yet, tune your guitar in all fourths and forget the last part

the guitar makes all diatonic sounds using one simple, two-octave shape - or two simple, one-octave shapes. that's most of the story. if you choose standard tuning, you simply need to jump over the obstacle between the second and third strings every time you cross it, but the former fact remains.

what you want more than shapes and rules is something called tactile association: you make up your mind to "sing" a sound and your fingers respond as surely as your vocal folds, producing the correct pitch with no real conscious thought. building up a complete CAGED system leads you toward a competent theoretical understanding of the fingerboard, but tactile association allows you to hear and play music without need of theory

craigoslo
02-09-2012, 01:05 AM
I like to break up each position into string groups over a progression. Play the lower three strings of each chord for riff like sound, the inner 4 with pentatonic embellishments, and the top three for high arpeggiated chords(for example).

mjm59
02-09-2012, 10:43 AM
I agree with JonR, for rhythm playing, the best thing to do is to "re-voice" tunes that you already know with different chord forms. An easy way to get into this is to start practicing your I-IV-V progressions using each form of the chord as I, or tonic. In case you aren't familiar with that terminology, use a chord sequence from a basic blues, or Johnny B.Goode and you'll be using the sequence of I-IV-V (sorry if I just insulted your intelligence, but one never knows what one knows on the internet....).

Now, pick a key, say, G and play the pattern (G-C-D) in the lowest position possible (in this case it is the G form with root on the 6th string, 3rd fret, or all the normal "cowboy" chords. Go to the next highest G chord which will also have the root at the aforementioned spot but with a different chord form (E form, or F barre if you will). Find the C and D chords closest to that G, but don't cheat on the D chord and simply slide the C up two frets, that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise. Continue all the way up the neck, using a different form for G as you go up. After a while, you'll begin to see how the I and IV chords really sit very closely to one another in form so that you only have to move a couple of fingers, and you'll be mastering the forms in no time. What's really cool is that when you want to sound different from other guitar players you're playing with, you'll easily be able to play different voicings because you'll know 4 different places to play those chords.

Another thing to do is to start playing the scale and the arpeggio to each form in a sequence of ascending 4ths. Again, I like to start with G, but using the E form (F barre) at the third fret. Just to orient yourself sonically and visually, it's good to play the chord first. Then, play either the scale or the arp, but I prefer doing the scale first. After completing that chord, move to the next one a perfect fourth up (in this case, it will be C, using the A form). Next will be F, using the D form and so on.

BTW, I was taught to use the altered form of the D shape, transferring the 3rd (F#) from the first string to the 6th string, and have really never used the shape with the root on the 4th string as the lowest note. YMMV, but once you get used to making the stretch, I find it much easier to finger as opposed to the original and I think it sounds cool, much bigger by having that low 3rd in the bass, muting the 5th string with your middle finger. If you don't like the 3rd, just leave it out and only play the middle strings (4,3,2) and mute the 5th string with the tip of your index finger to get a cool rock sound; especially playing an E chord and using the open 6th string, it sounds massive.

One more thing, I don't know if you're doing this or not, but I also tend not to play the upper root note in the G form on the first string, nor the third just adjacent to the lowest root on the 6th string. This is contrary to how you'd play a G chord in the "cowboy" chord form down at the end of the neck, but it just doesn't sound great to include those notes on up the neck and it's awkward. I mute the 5th string with my pinky that's playing the root on the 6th string, and I just don't press the first string down hard with my index finger barre (in case I do happen to hit it, it won't sound awkward playing the 6th of the chord, unless that's what you're looking for; just like if you were playing the A form of the chord).

Lastly, in case nobody told you (I didn't know this for many years after playing the system), if you start with a first position C chord and sequentially play all the forms of C up the neck, the forms spell out CAGED! I hope I was able to help without being to boring.


Mike

Clifford-D
02-09-2012, 12:18 PM
You are officially 'the man'. ( maybe share with SK)
I love seeing new facets to things I know so well.
I think this is the kind of info that just flows from here to there through people
SK is "the man" in this scenario but thanks for the affirmation on the idea.

hartguitars
02-09-2012, 11:03 PM
Forgive me if someone already pointed this out, but you should do this with maj7, min7, min7b5, dom7. Also you should learn where the chord tones are so you can extend and alter to your hearts content.