So I see a lot of people talking about how the caged system us good because It connects scales with chords, what I don't understand is that If I'm playing A major scale Caged system helps me find all A chords all over the neck, but isn't that easy even if you're playing 3nps? Am I mising something? Also is the caged system useful when it comes to harmonic minor and other scales?

  • It sounds a bit like you've already progressed beyond what CAGED can teach you. It seems to be an excellent way of getting to know the fretboard in the 1st place though. I didn't know about it until recently - had to find it all for myself! I can see that if I'd known about it when I started out, it could have helped a lot. – user2808054 Sep 23 '15 at 9:19

For me, it's more about finding chord shapes over the neck. The basic open shapes are C, A, G, E and in a 4/5 string version, D. All these chords work in open position (with some strings open), not always in root position, but that's not an issue. Those shapes can then be moved up the fretboard and a barre used to produce other chords. Or, put another way, say C open can be another C using barre 3rd fret with an A shape, barre 3rd fret with a G shape, barre 8th fret with an E shape, barre 12th fret with a C shape, and barre 10th fret with a D shape. Works better with major chords, in my opinion.


Don't confuse fretboard logic with the CAGED system. In my experience, only Tim actually plays the barred G. There are a number of different fretboard visualization systems each with their own advantages.

CAGED- physically based system, requires no stretching, matches up nicely with the Blues scale boxes and pentatonic major. All "expressive techniques" (bends, slides, vibrato, hammers, etc) can be performed with the wrist. Allows one universal hand position for thumb over the top players.

3 note per string- mentally based system, once you have the scale down you can gun fast repeating pattern figures on the fly. Requires stretches. If you want to shred eighties style with a more classically influenced hand position, this is for you.

Segovian- educationally based system, you learn the notes up each string which accelerates sight reading and development of absolute pitch.

Chromatic zone- another mentally based system designed to give the full palette of notes for all scales, largely for jazz improvisors (rather than having discrete 3nps patterns).

I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch but those are the big ones. I teach rock, blues, and metal. Over the last 15 years the best student results have come from learning the scales via the CAGED system, and the chords as harmonized scales moving up the strings (I.e 6th string root, 5th sr, 4th string root).

Harmonic minor works great CAGED, and some of the patterns are pretty fun to play:


Disclaimer: That's a link to my site, its free, no ads or affiliate links, it serves over 40,000 page views a month so I'm not trolling for traffic. The link is also "rel no followed" so no seo benefit either.


Of course we all play part of the big "barred g" at times, but a more "ergonomic" and I think better sounding context is 4 note open voiced chords.

To be honest it's far more achievable to use that with 3nps fingerings because the guitar is usually set higher to accommodate stretching. With the guitar at waist level (which is when the CAGED system is most often used) that barred G form can become a threat to long term feeling in our fingertips.

Just like office ergonomics, we need to keep our wrists straight!

Ive never seen that chord form in any guitar book that predates fretboard logic. Just using the top four strings is a sensible approach for chord melody playing, it is not the full "barred g" which I find academic for the majority of CAGED system players.

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    @No one really plays the barred G'. Really? I do. But then, I'm Nobody. But nobody's perfect... – Tim Sep 23 '15 at 22:33
  • You're the first I've met. I've updated my answer accordingly. – Jay Skyler Sep 24 '15 at 9:42
  • I play it too and I bet you play at least part of it without relizing it. It's very common to see someone play the top 4 strings only in the G Barre chord, but I've used it on songs that use a capo just to play open chords on a different freat. Just because you don't use it doesn't mean no one uses it. – Dom Sep 24 '15 at 12:31
  • I had to reply in the answer due to space. For the record, I often use absolute language in my replies because I feel music education is by definition biased and I would rather embrace that and answer confidently and definitively for the genres which I proudly and so stereotypically represent, rather than sneak my opinions in under the guise of being unbiased. It's never personal. – Jay Skyler Sep 24 '15 at 21:57
  • The G Barre chord is not harmful unless your posture or tequnique is bad. Then anything you play will become harmful long term. – Dom Sep 26 '15 at 19:04

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