Uncaging the Monkies.

How to use the CAGED system to go Ape-Sh*t with Jazz Chords
Milton Mermikides

The CAGED system is a well-documented and powerful system for understanding chords and their associated scales over the entire fretboard. I'll look at the basics of it very briefly. The basis of the CAGED system is that a lot of useful material can be gathered from knowing the open position C, A, G, E and D chords and transposing them on the fretboard: Thus:

Concept 1. One chord 5 places
Here are the 5 open position major chords, with the focus on roots on string 6-4
C A G E D

4 &4

w w w w w

Root on 6 o Root on 5 i (means on the nut-side and 3 i of the guitar)

#w w w w w

w w w w w w

w #w w w w w

#w w w w
Root on 4 i

Root on 6 i and 4o

Since these all can be made to be movable, it is possible from these to have 5 voicings for one chord

Here are the 5 shapes (CAGED) with roots on C C Shape
C

A Shape
C

G Shape
C
5fr

E Shape
C
8fr

D Shape
C
10fr

w & w w w w

There is a huge amount of good material that can be based on this foundation but we'll skip that for now just to look at its implications to jazz chords and some quick but effectve studies.

w w w w w

w w w w w w

w w w w w w

w w w w

Copyright © 2011 Milton Mermikides

2

Concept 2. Major 7 CAGED chords and the Cycle V study

So let's know look at 5 voicings (with some alternatives) for a root inversion Major 7 based on the CAGED shapes from the open position.

C Shape
CŒ„Š7 CŒ„Š7

A Shape
CŒ„Š7 CŒ„Š7

G Shape
CŒ„Š7
5fr

E Shape
CŒ„Š7
8fr

D Shape
CŒ„Š7
7fr

CŒ„Š7
10fr

or

or

&

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

˙ ˙ ˙

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

w w w w

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

w w w w

By playing a cycle of descending 5ths we can play every major 7 voicing all in close proximity. The shapes will cycle in this order - E -A - D - G - C. This is an excellent exercise, call out the chords as you play them, and try not to make your brain explode.
CŒ„Š7
8fr

FŒ„Š7
8fr

B¨Œ„Š7
8fr

E¨Œ„Š7
8fr

A¨Œ„Š7
8fr

A¨Œ„Š7
8fr

w w & w w w

E Shape

A Shape

w w w w w

w w bw w
D Shape

w w bbw w
G Shape

or

˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙
C Shape

˙ ˙ ˙

D¨Œ„Š7
9fr

G¨Œ„Š7
9fr

BŒ„Š7
9fr

EŒ„Š7
9fr

AŒ„Š7
9fr

AŒ„Š7
11fr

bw w & bw w

E Shape

bb w w bw w bw

###w w nw w
D Shape

## w w w w
G Shape

or

## ˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ ˙
C Shape

˙ ˙ ˙

A Shape

DŒ„Š7
10fr

GŒ„Š7
10fr

CŒ„Š7
10fr

FŒ„Š7
10fr

B¨Œ„Š7
10fr

B¨Œ„Š7
12fr

w ##w & w w

E Shape

w #w w w w

w w w w
D Shape

w w w w
G Shape

˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ ˙

or

˙ ˙ ˙

A Shape

C Shape continue till the end of time

Copyright © 2011 Milton Mermikides

Concept 3. Dominant 7 CAGED chords and the Cycle V study
So now let's know look at 5 voicings (with some alternatives) for a root inversion C7, followed by a Cycle 5 sequence in which to use them

3

C Shape
C7 C7

A Shape
C7

G Shape
C7
5fr

E Shape
C7
5fr

D Shape
C7
10fr

C7
8fr

or

or

& b˙˙ ˙ ˙
C7

˙ ˙ ˙
F7

w bw w w w
B¨7

b˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

The B-flat or C may be omitted for fluency

˙ b˙˙ ˙
E¨7

bw w w
A¨7

bw w w w
D¨7

& V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V
E Shape A Shape
B7

D Shape
E7

G Shape

C Shape
D7

E Shape etc. etc.

& V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V V
And a similar approach for the minor 7 chords.

G¨7

A7

G7

Concept 4. Minor 7 CAGED chords and the Cycle V study
C Shape
C‹7 C‹7

A Shape
C‹7 C‹7

G Shape
C‹7
4fr

E Shape
C‹7
4fr

D Shape
C‹7
10fr

C‹7
8fr

or

or

& bb˙ ˙ ˙
C‹7

b˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

˙ bb˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
F‹7

˙ ˙ ˙
B¨‹7

b˙ b˙ b˙˙ ˙ ˙ b ˙ ˙
The B-flat or C may be omitted for fluency

or

bbw w w

bb w w w w

& V V V V
E Shape
D¨‹7

A Shape

V V V V
G¨‹7

D Shape

V V V V
B‹7

E¨‹7

G Shape

V V V V
E‹7

A¨‹7

C Shape

V V V V
etc.

& V

E Shape etc.

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

V

Copyright © 2011 Milton Mermikides

4 C Shape
C‹7(b5) C‹7(b5)

Concept 5. Minor 7(b5) CAGED chords and the Cycle V study
A Shape
C‹7(b5)

G Shape
C‹7(b5)
5fr

E Shape
C‹7(b5)
3fr

D Shape
C‹7(b5)
10fr 7fr

C‹7(b5)

or

or

& bb˙ ˙ ˙
C‹7(b5)

bb˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

bbbw w w w
F‹7(b5)

b˙ ˙ b˙
B¨‹7(b5)

bb˙ ˙ b˙ ˙

bbbw w w w
E¨‹7(b5)

bbb w w w w
A¨‹7(b5)

& V V V V
A Shape

D Shape
G¨‹7(b5)

V V V V V V V V
D Shape

G Shape
B‹7(b5)

V V V V V V V V
G Shape

C Shape
E‹7(b5)

V V V V V V V V

E Shape
A‹7(b5)

V V V V V V V V

& V V V V
A Shape

D¨‹7(b5)

C Shape

E Shape

Mastering the above, should allow you to play the harmony of any tune anywhere on the fretboard. Psst... don't tell anyone but Cmaj7=Am9(no root) Cm7=Abmaj9 (no root) Cm7(b5)=Ab9(no root) this opens up things further. Also these basic forms can be expanded and modified to enrich your harmonic understanding further still. The following exercise consolidates all the material in this lesson in a satisfyingly brain-melting manner. It's a simple diatonic sequence (with some secondary dominants) and by the end of the cycle, you've played everyone of the CAGED shapes of Major 7, Minor 7, Dominant 7 and Minor 7(b5) at least once. All the voice leading is smooth, and you'll gradually head up the neck, ensuring mastery of each fretboard position. You can, and should, take any piece of your reportoire and play through the progression in position, all over the fingerboard. Attaching solo material based on these shapes, would of course be extremely helpful in soloing. This 'no-place-to-hide' approach to practice, can really engender a comprehensive harmonic literacy on the guitar, and in turn, an authentic creative freedom in performance.

Copyright © 2011 Milton Mermikides

Concept 6. Diatonic Perpetual Cycle: Utter Mastery

5
FŒ„Š7

& V & V & V & V & V & V & V & V & V

D‹7

C Shape
B‹7(b5)

V

V V V V V V V V V

V V V V V V V V V
E7

V
E7

G7

E Shape

V

V V V V V V V V V

V V V V V V V V V
A‹7

CŒ„Š7

V

A Shape

V

V V V V V V V V V
A7

V V V V V V V V V

V

D Shape

V

V V V V V V V V V
D‹7

V V V V V V V V V

G Shape

V

V

C Shape

V

A‹7

V

E Shape

V

A7

(E Shape)
FŒ„Š7

V

V

D‹7

A Shape
B‹7(b5)

V V V

V
E7

G7

D Shape

V V V

CŒ„Š7

V V V

G Shape

V V V

V V V

C Shape

V V V

E Shape

V V

A‹7

A7

A Shape
G7

D Shape

(D Shape)

D‹7

CŒ„Š7

FŒ„Š7

G Shape
B‹7(b5)

C Shape

E Shape

A Shape

D Shape

V

E7

V

G Shape

V

A‹7

V

C Shape
CŒ„Š7

V

A7

V

(C Shape)

V

D‹7

E Shape
B‹7(b5)

V

V
E7

G7

A Shape

V

V

D Shape

V

FŒ„Š7

V

G Shape

V

C Shape

V

V

E Shape

V

A‹7

V

A Shape
CŒ„Š7

V

A7

V

(A Shape)

V

D‹7

A Shape

V

V

G7

D Shape

V

V

G Shape

V

FŒ„Š7

V

C Shape

V

& V V V V
E Shape

B‹7(b5)

V V V V
A Shape

V V V V
D Shape

V V V V
(D Shape)

+

C Shape

Copyright © 2011 Milton Mermikides

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