As we saw in The CAGED System: 1, this system is a very effective method of learning chords, scales and arpeggios and moving this information to different keys. If we again look at the major CAGED chord shapes,
we see that by lowering the third of each of these major chords, we produce the equivalent minor chords.
Note: because of fingering limitations, some of the minor CAGED chords are not as full as the major equivalents.
As with the major CAGED chord shapes, the minor shapes interlock across the fretboard in a single key; in the case of the following example it is the key of C minor.
The minor CAGED shapes also have five corresponding scale patterns. In the following examples the C natural minor scale is used.
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘Cm’ CAGED shape is
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘Am’ CAGED shape is
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘Gm’ CAGED shape is
The pattern which corresponds with the ‘Em’ CAGED shape is
And finally, the pattern which corresponds with the ‘Dm’ CAGED shape is
Now that we have mapped the major and minor CAGED chord shapes and corresponding scale patterns, let us see how they may be utilised with the following chord progression
G – Em – C – G
these chords form a I – vi – IV – I progression in G major. Using the CAGED system, one possible way of playing the progression is
Here, the G chords use the E major CAGED shape, the Em chord uses the Cm CAGED shape and the C major chord uses the A major CAGED shape. Although we are still using typical barre chord shapes to create three of the four chords, the Em chord shape (using the Cm CAGED shape) saves us from having to move our entire hand up to the seventh fret to play a typical Em barre chord (Am shape). Obviously we can also mix and match the various chords shapes from the CAGED system to create the same progression in other positions.
When it comes time to solo over this progression, because it is in a single key, we can simply use the various interlocking G major scale patterns to create our solo. But let’s suppose we want to treat each chord as belonging to its own key centre: G to G major; Em to E minor and C to C major.
To solo of the G major chords, we may begin with the E major CAGED scale pattern but transposed to G major
Over the E minor chord we can use the Cm CAGED scale pattern but transposed to E minor
and, over the C major chord we can use the A major CAGED scale pattern but transposed to C.
Over the final G chord we can again use the E major CAGED shape. Alternatively we may mix and match the various scale patterns for each key centre.