The CAGED system is a method of learning chord and scale relationships across the fretboard by relating interlocking chord shapes to their corresponding scale patterns. Five major chords are used as its basis: C, A, G, E and D. Note: the chord labels correspond to the chord shapes of each chord in the open position. Unlike their open position counterparts, however, the shapes below are all barre chords; the root notes of each are indicated by the empty circles.
The five barre chord shapes are movable: each shape may be moved anywhere along its string length, giving access to all 12 keys. For example, the ‘A’ shape may be played with its root on the third fret, A string, giving us a C barre chord.
Or, the ‘D’ shape may be played with its root on the ninth fret, G string, giving us a B barre chord
We may also use all of the shapes in one key, which unites the entire fretboard in one key centre.
Here, the five CAGED shapes all form configurations of a C major chord, and the octave C at the twelve fret. Playing the shapes sequentially in order in all 12 keys is an excellent way of learning different arpeggio shapes for the major keys.
Notice, each note, or set of notes, at the lower end of the chord diagrams (closest to the bottom of the page) interlocks with the next shape.
The next step is to match the five CAGED shapes with five different positions of the C major scale. The five C major scale patterns which correspond with the ‘C’ CAGED shapes are as follows:
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘C’ CAGED shape is
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘A’ CAGED shape is
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘G’ CAGED shape is
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘E’ CAGED shape is
And finally, the pattern which corresponds with the ‘D’ CAGED shape is
There are also certain scale patterns which fit between the five CAGED positions, but these can be easily mapped out once the five CAGED scale positions have been memorised. The important point with all of these examples is to visualise the relationship between the chord shapes and the scale patterns, and the different fretboard positions. With time and practice playing in different keys will become easier, as will moving between different positions in the same key.