CAGED System For Guitar Explained!

The CAGED system for guitar is a way of organizing your licks on the guitar neck. Why should you care? You might already be an accomplished guitar player. You might already know all the scales, licks and chords. So why would you care about that CAGED system? Glad you asked! You should care because the CAGED system frees your mind to focus on musicality.


The guitar CAGED system comes handy in many situations, but particularly when you need to improvise over a chord progression on the fly. Imagine being able to freely improvise by just looking at a chord chart, without having to overanalyze anything. That’s exactly what the CAGED system allows guitar players to do. So, how does that CAGED system work?


First, the CAGED system for guitar does NOT mean that everything you play has to be in C, A, G, E or D. It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with the visual characteristics of these chords when played in their open position.

When looking at the chords that give the CAGED system its name, we notice very unique characteristics that are going to help use make sense of the fretboard. The following picture shows these five chords. Notice the roots in red.


The most important thing to understand how the CAGED system works is to look at the characteristics of the C, A, G, E and D chord shapes. We can do this by looking at their root. Which string is the root on? How is the chord built in relation to that root?
Let’s take for example the C chord shape. The C chord has its root on the fifth string and is built on the left side of that root. That is the characteristic of that C chord.

Using the same method, we can associate the following characteristics for each of the 5 chords of the CAGED guitar system.

How you can use the Caged system

As explained in the previous paragraph, the guitar CAGED system is about chord shape characteristics. Those 5 characteristics are found over and over on the guitar neck. As a matter of fact, any lick, chord or guitar mode you will ever play shares one of the characteristics extracted from the CAGED system.

This is good because instead of trying to fit multiple chords into a single scale position, you can now simply follow the chord positions and target the chord tones. This is particularly useful when you improvise over chord progressions written in multiple keys.

If you are interested in trying the CAGED system for yourself, you can sign up to my free 3 day guitar challenge. You will learn how to improvise using the CAGED system over cool modulating backing tracks.