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Blues Guitar Lessons: Exploring the Neck: The CAGED System

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Our next topic for the next few lessons
actually is going to be
about expanding the range
of your melodic playing
to cover the entire neck.
In other words, figuring out how
to organize this thing from one
end to the other so you can play blues
in any key in any location on the neck.
Now it might seem like a pretty
drastic undertaking but
we're going to break it down in
a way that's tried and true.
There are different systems
people have of course,
lots of different ways
of teaching this thing.
But this system is a pretty
well known system.
And it's logical, consistent and
it's easily adaptable to blues.
It really makes sense.
And it's called the Caged System.
We're gonna break out of
our cage by using a cage.
[SOUND] The reason it's called a cage
system is because it is based around five
chord shapes.
Which are some of the first chords
that most people learn when they first
play guitar, take a guitar lesson,
or read a guitar method.
The open position chords or
the folky chords as they are often called.
And they would be in
order to match the words.
C, A, G, E, and D.
Now, we've obviously played E and A.
We're pretty familiar with those [COUGH]
the C chord, I'll just assume you
know any of these stuff and
show you just so we don't leave any gaps.
The C chord on the third finger on
the fifth string of the third fret,
second finger on the fourth string,
open third String.
Second string, first fret.
Open first string.
And as a rule you don't
play the low E strings.
So, five note chord, that's C major.
Now the A chord, we can, it doesn't
matter what fingering we're using cuz
we're not really using the chords.
We're gonna use these as a way of
organizing the neck into patterns,
so I'll explain that in a second.
The A chord we know.
G, there are different fingers for G, but
this is just enough to get
the point across here.
[SOUND] Put your little finger on
the high E string at the third fret.
[SOUND] Your middle finger on
the fifth string, at the second fret.
[SOUND] And your third finger.
[SOUND] Strum all six strings there is G,
and then finally D.
Well, we know E already and then D.
Root on the fourth string,
[SOUND] third string second fret,
[SOUND] second string, [SOUND] and
first string second fret [SOUND].
So like I say those are probably
familiar chords to you but if not,
that's how they work.
And when you play those five chords in
open position they're just random chords.
But the system that we're coming up with
here is to take those five chords and
think of each one as a separate shape,
a different representation
of the notes on the neck.
And link them end to end and
see what happens when we do that.
Let me explain that so
it makes more sense.
Okay, we have five chords,
C A G E and D all in an open position.
And [LAUGH] the next thing we're
gonna do is take those five shapes,
not the names of the chords, but
those five voicings, and
we're gonna play them all in the same key.
And the key will be the key of C.
Now, here's the way this is gonna work.
This requires knowing a little bit
about how the chords are built.
Now, the C chord has the root
on the fifth string.
[SOUND] Okay.
So we'll call that shape number one or
pattern number one.
We'll turn it into a melodic for
pattern right now.
It's just a chord shape or
a chord pattern.
So shape number one, pattern number one.
Now the next chord in the system CA.
The root is also on the fifth string.
[SOUND] So if I play the A shape but
with C in the base,
I get a chord that looks like this.
[SOUND] We already know that cord,
that's the bar chord with
the root on the fifth string.
We've been playing that all along,
since the very beginning.
So, C number one, C number two.
Now, the next chord in
the caged group is G, C, A, G.
G has the root on the sixth string and
the first string.
[SOUND] If I play it in the key of C,
there's C on the sixth
string and on the first string,
[SOUND] whoa.
Almost impossible to play.
Certainly I'm not having much luck.
But that's not the point.
We're not gonna use
those chords as chords,
we're just using them to
kind of define a region.
So I've got [SOUND] C with C in the bass
there, I've got [SOUND] the A shape,
shape number two with C in the bass.
I've got the G shape,
number three [SOUND] C in the bass.
I'm gonna make it into two
chords to make my life easier.
[SOUND] There's the bottom and the top.
So the G area or the pattern number three.
Next chord is the E.
[SOUND] And I move that up next to C.
[SOUND] And a familiar chord,
the bar chord, so number four.
One, two, three, four and finally,
the D chord [SOUND] roots on
the fourth string [SOUND].
There is C and
there is the D shape [SOUND] played in
the key of C with the root
on the fourth string.
I can finger in different ways, but again,
it doesn't really matter
how it is fingered.
We're not gonna use that chord,
I'm just gonna use that outline.
So, number one, [SOUND] number two,
[SOUND] number three,
[SOUND] number four,
[SOUND] number five [SOUND].
And then when I get to
up to the next shape,
I'm back to number one again [SOUND].
But I'm up an octave so
I've started the whole cycle again.
So, the cage system involves
dividing the neck, the 12 frets,
the one octave span,
into five areas, or five patterns.
And each of those patterns
contains the same information.
In other words,
[SOUND] there's a major chord.
I can play the major scale [SOUND].
Here is the major chord [SOUND]
major scales [SOUND] so forth.
Now, obviously if I can
play a major chord.
I can play a major scale in
each of those five patterns.
Then it stands to reason that I
could play a dominant chord and
I could play the blues sound
in each of those five parents.
And that's what we're gonna do, as we
progress through the next few lessons,
is we're gonna break the neck
down into five areas.
And look at how to create blues
phrases in those areas and
look at some examples of famous
classic influential phrases and
players that sort of are associated
with some of these spots on the neck.
And in this way we've,
suddenly your ability to play around
all areas of the neck will explode
because you already know the sounds.
You know the techniques.
And so now is just sort of relating
it to a new spot on the neck.
And so the time that it takes to do
that as opposed to starting from scratch
is way less.
So you're gonna make huge progress
when you absorb this idea.
Now, just to help it sink
in that's in the key of C.
Let's suppose we play the five
patterns in a different key.
C is fine, but
we're not gonna play in C all the time.
So what about a key that we're
more familiar with, like A.
What happens.
How do I play the five patterns in
the key of A?
Well, the idea is that, since I wanna see
the whole neck broken into those regions.
So I'll start always with the one
that's closest to the nut here.
[SOUND] So my first pattern in the key of
A would be [SOUND] the A shape, of course.
Now to be consistent.
We use the numbering from the C shape,
so number one [SOUND] number two [SOUND]
number three [SOUND] number [SOUND] and
number [SOUND].
So when I'm in A,
A is the second chord in the cycle.
So this is actually gonna be pattern
number two [SOUND] the A shape.
And then pattern number three [SOUND]
the G shape, in the key of A.
Pattern number four [SOUND]
the E shape in the key of A.
Pattern number 5 [SOUND]
the D shape in the key of A.
And finally [SOUND] pattern number one,
the C shape in the key of A.
Does that make sense?
The numbers are associated
with the specific chord.
The C chord, and
the C shape is always gonna be number one.
The [SOUND] A shape will
always be number two.
The G shape will always be number three,
and then number four and number five.
So whatever key we're in,
we're numbering the patterns the same, so
that it stays consistent.
Let's do it in another key so
that it makes sense.
I wanna make sure you understand this.
Key of F, okay?
Starting at the bottom of the neck here
and the lowest F chord I can play is
the one that [SOUND] big bar chords
like the E chord, upper fret.
[SOUND] What's the number of pattern
associated with the E shape?
So there's pattern number four, in F.
Next up will be pattern number five.
Then the cycle starts again
with pattern number one,
[SOUND] pattern number two, [SOUND] and
pattern number three [SOUND] and
then I'm back to [SOUND]
pattern number four.
So I played five patterns in the key of F.
Using pattern, and
it's good to get away from thinking
of it as the E shape and the D shape.
That's gonna confuse you.
So pattern number four.
Pattern number five or sorry.
Yeah, pattern number four.
Pattern number five.
Pattern number one.
Pattern number two.
Pattern number three.
Key of F.
Again, we'll keep working this until
it starts to become more second nature.
B flat.
Personal all time favorite key.
I start the lowest B flat
I can play is down here.
[SOUND] That's pattern number two.
[SOUND] Pattern number three.
[SOUND] Pattern number four.
[SOUND] Pattern number five.
[SOUND] Pattern number one.
[SOUND] And back to pattern number two.
So I played B flat chords up the neck,
in order following the patterns,
and sure enough, the all link together,
just as they would in every other key.
E, [SOUND] thank goodness,
finally a familiar key.
E [SOUND] that's pattern number four.
[SOUND] Pattern number five.
[SOUND] Number one.
[SOUND] Number two.
[SOUND] Number three.
[SOUND] Back to number four again.
And so on and so on.
You can do that through all 12 keys.
In fact, that's your assignment is figure
out the five patterns in all 12 keys.
Start at the lowest end of the neck,
at the lowest one you could find, and
work your way up, and
after awhile you start to
see quickly that number two is followed by
number three is followed by number four.
And the shapes become much more familiar.
The end result is that you've got
the ability, at least on the surface,
[COUGH] of being able to play in
a given key any where on the neck.
If I say, E flat.
Okay, that's a key that, man I don't
know where I'm going on E flat, but
the lowest root I can find
is on the fourth string.
[SOUND] And that is pattern number five.
[SOUND] Number one, number two,
number three, number four.
Wow, okay, I can play E flats up and
down the neck.
What will follow from that of course is
the ability to play the associated scale
patterns and melodies.
So this is some homework,
but it's very important.
Start organizing that.
Now if that's not clear, if you have
questions, this is when you get a hold of
me and let me know what you're thinking,
or where it's not adding up.
And I will clarify it for you,
and make sure you understand,
because we're gonna build on
this idea from here on out.
Go to work.