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How to Hack the CAGED System

Last updated on April 10, 2020

It all started back in Music College in the early 2000s, at the ACM in Guildford (UK) to be precise, where we were handed, by none other than Guthrie Govan, an inch-thick binder containing all manner of shapes and patterns for the CAGED system, including chords and arpeggios. I duly slaved over the book while burning the midnight oil for an entire semester and while my technique improved no end, I just couldn’t turn those patterns into music, or connect them to what I was learning in music theory class. Half of me knew that there was a better way, I was just too inexperienced at that point to see it, while the other half of me was saying, ‘Suck it up! Guthrie Govan handed you this book’. Sometime between then and now, Hacking the CAGED System was born.

Fast forward to 2016, and with the benefit of hindsight from more than 20 years of playing, I’ve been able to look at the CAGED system from a different perspective, simplified its major components (scales, chords and arpeggios) and hopefully made it a useful system for anyone wishing to learn it. The CAGED system has many flaws, but these can be hacked and rectified to turn it into a powerful system for understanding how the guitar fretboard works, leading to a versatile, and above all, functional knowledge of chords, arpeggios, scales and modes, and key signatures.

Who is this book for?
Book 1 in the series is suitable for self-study or with a guitar teacher, and has a wide range of applications:

1) For the beginner guitarist in his/her first year who is ready to go beyond barre chords and pentatonic scales, this eBook will help to avoid the many pitfalls encountered by beginners when they decide to learn the CAGED system, and hopefully encourage novice players not to give up this wonderful instrument too soon. It also provides a gentle introduction to music theory as it relates to the guitar, and can be put into practice just as easily.

2) For guitarists who’ve become stuck in a rut with the standard CAGED patterns, aren’t sure how to apply them, or can’t seem to improvise without their solos sounding scalar or unmelodic.

3) For the intermediate guitarist who may have gaps in his/her playing, or has great technique but lacks a knowledge of theory, and wishes to fill in those gaps to become a well-rounded and versatile player, or turn their knowledge of the CAGED system into a functional part of their playing.

4) Songwriters who play guitar can also benefit from this book as it provides a basis for learning how common chords work, and how to combine them with melodies.

I have also designed this book to align the CAGED system with music theory, thereby making it easier to communicate with other musicians; this is incredibly useful because the CAGED system as it is, is unique to guitar, and therefore restricts communication with other musicians.

If you’re thinking about going to Music College at some point, then this book also provides a good grounding in what you’ll learn during the first semester or so, and what will inevitably end up being the most useful chords, arpeggios and scales you’ll ever learn.

What does Book 1 Cover?
Book 1 teaches you the basic major scale forms, shows you where to find all the diatonic chords as well as seventh chords. We then venture into intervals which allow us to show you how to solo, and always land on the right note. Next we bring out the arpeggios, and finally the modes. Everything is tied together using key signatures as a framework to build up a practical knowledge of chords, scales, arpeggios and modes on the guitar. The book also features 8 backing tracks to help you practice the material, check it out here.

READ NEXT  How Well Do You Know Your Scales?

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Published in Arpeggios Barre Chords CAGED System Chords Guitar Books Guitar Hacks Scales

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