By Scott Blanchard – Source

In this post, we’ll show you some easy ways to navigate the fretboard by introducing a simple octave pattern and disecting the CAGED system of chords. You’ll learn how to connect familiar shapes and play many chord voicings all over the neck.

In addition, you’ll develop a clear understanding of reference points on the fretboard, making your playing experience more fun and easier than ever before! If you want to learn about musical relationships and their ties into many styles,

If you’re ready to dive even deeper into the CAGED system, be sure to check out Brad Carlton’s CAGED Cracked course.

The CAGED System

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you took a common C Major triad (a three-note chord composed of the root, 3rd, and 5th; in this case C–E–G) and plotted all three notes across the entire fretboard? Well if you did, you would get the CAGED system. This system provides a way to connect major chords across the entire fretboard by visualizing familiar open chords.

1) Build a C Major chord:

CAGED system

2) Use the octave pattern to locate all of the C’s:

CAGED system

3) Use the octave pattern to plot out all of the E’s and G’s as well, and you get this collection of notes:

CAGED system

4) Look at these notes carefully—familiar open chord shapes will start to appear:

CAGED system

And here they are: the common C, A, G, E, and D chord shapes. Keep in mind these don’t necessarily represent the actual names of the chords. Instead, they represent the five positions of a single major chord (in this case, C Major) as it appears across the entire fretboard. By shifting this pattern up and down the neck, you can now use familiar open chord shapes to play any major chord, in any position.

Simplifying the CAGED System

You might be wondering: is there a way to simplify the CAGED system to make it easier to visualize? Well, there is an alternate, and perhaps easier, way. Rather than conceptualize five chord shapes connected across the entire fretboard, you might try to visualize four chord shapes that are connected to two root locations. One of the roots is on the 5th string (A), and the other is on the 6th string (low E). Visualizing these two roots as a “toggle switch” with a chord on each side is a very practical way to simplify these patterns; especially since chord shape 2 and 4 are common barre chords. Study the following diagram carefully to understand this concept.

CAGED system

Now remember, this entire system is movable. So, if you were going to apply the CAGED system to, say, a G#. Major chord, you would shift the entire system down four frets so that the root was G#. The pattern would now look like this:

CAGED system

For more information on octaves and the CAGED system, be sure to check out Brad Carlton’s CAGED Cracked course.