Why I Don’t Train the CAGED System

The CAGED system has a fame however I’m not right here to argue its advantages or its hindrances. I wish to clarify how the CAGED system is scaffolding.

Scaffolding is a instructing method used to construct connections for learners earlier than the true idea is taught. An educator will choose content material that isn’t too tough or unfamiliar for college kids and can use that acquainted materials to make connections to the brand new idea.


An instance of scaffolding is a trainer discussing the themes of To Kill A Mockingbird earlier than assigning a category to learn the e-book itself. The CAGED system shares this identical construction; as a substitute of instantly studying how chords are constructed, college students be taught chord shapes they’re already acquainted with, however transfer the chord shapes to new areas on the neck.

There are benefits and downsides to studying with a scaffolding system.


  • Scaffolding minimizes frustration
  • Scaffolding is catered to college students who’re fast to surrender
  • Constructing connections primarily based on recognized ideas (i.e.: chord shapes) hastens studying


  • Doesn’t promote unbiased studying
  • Over-scaffolding creates dependence
  • CAGED system can’t be utilized to music basically and is particular solely to the guitar.

The final word purpose of CAGED is to not educate shapes however to show new chords.

I wish to supply one other piece of scaffolding. Chord inversions may even educate college students new methods to strategy chords they already know. These two scaffoldings usually are not in competitors, however in actual fact assist one another.

You’ll create a chord development making use of each the CAGED system and chord inversions. We’ll use the I–VIm–IV–V development in the important thing of A serious: A–F#m–D–E.

What’s a Chord Inversion?

An inversion happens when a chord’s notes are rearranged, particularly which be aware within the bass of the chord.

An A serious chord in root place is A (root) C# (third) E (fifth)

1st inversion is C# (third) E (fifth) A (root)

2nd inversion is E (fifth) A (root) C# (third)

In Ex. 1 you may see these inversions performed on the highest three strings.

Let’s concurrently lay out the A serious chords utilizing the CAGED system in Ex. 2. (In the event you want a CAGED refresher, take a look at “The Guitarist’s Information to the CAGED System.”

You’ll choose one among these voicings in your chord development. As you look at all eight voicings, take note of which voicing you’re drawn to. This can assist construct your artistic voice. Personally, I’ve all the time beloved the sound of a 1st inversion chord, so I’ll choose that for the primary chord in my development.

The second chord in our development is an F#m. Let’s look at the inversions for this chord in Ex. 3.

In Ex. 4 you may see the F#m CAGED system chords.

I wish to embrace some descending pitches. I’ll choose the F#m from the CAGED system, utilizing the “E” form. When transferring between these two voicings the vitality drops in a stunning approach as a result of there are such a lot of descending pitches. We additionally add three new low notes, giving this voicing a deeper sonic house. This can be a sound I take pleasure in. You could select whichever voicings you assume sound correct in your train.

For my instance, I’m going to pick out a D chord in root place. Curiously, I made a decision towards utilizing the “A” form of the D chord. These two chords are extremely comparable however I wished to keep away from the decrease notes. This can add distinction in my development for a dynamic impact.

As a result of E main is the ultimate chord in our development, I’d like to listen to it finish on a full sound with a pleasant backside finish. This can distinction the excessive voicing of the earlier chord. For these causes I merely select the open E chord. The ultimate results of my development is in Ex. 5.

Scaffolding is just not good or dangerous, simply because the CAGED system is just not good or dangerous. The facility on this lesson comes from the coed making robust artistic decisions, and analyzing why they’re making these decisions.

Create your personal chord development and assume critically as you choose which chords you need. The system itself doesn’t give a participant creativity. It’s the implementation of the system that builds creativity.