Don’t worry, this article won’t feature the awful CAGED system; if you’re stuck in that particular trap then check out our CAGED System Antidote series of posts, or some CAGED System Alternatives.
CAGED really refers to the five keys (rock) guitarists play in… and maybe a few others. This is to avoid you getting depressed by the classic guitar instruction book line: NOW LEARN THIS IN ALL KEYS. We’re not going to look at every key as some of them, such as F# Major, C# Major, and Ab major are hardly ever used (in rock), unless you have a particularly trying singer. We’ll concentrate on the most used guitar keys, but you’ll find it progressively easier to apply this information to the underused keys should you ever need to.
The Key Signature Eye Test
Take a look at the following two diagrams which represent what you should be seeing when you’re thinking ‘C Major’.
If you don’t know the notes on the neck you may see something like this:
The truth is that there’s an incredible amount of information which you can bring out when you start working within key signatures.
The following table is a great place to start picking out bits of information from the bigger picture. Find the notes you need and start playing triads, 4-note chords and modes. The great thing here is that you can find shapes and patterns that are comfortable for you rather than those dictated by the CAGED system or other methods. You should soon start to find a lot of familiar shapes you’ve learned along the way, and realize you know way more than you thought you did! All those isolated bits of information should make a lot more sense too.
In Part 2 we’ll look at arpeggios and more complex chords.
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