Unlocking From The CAGED Guitar Theory Part 1

Author: Ed Cupler

The Consistent Right Hand

“The key of performance is elegance, not battalions of special cases” (Jon Bentley and Doug McIlroy)

Have you tried using the CAGED fretboard system when learning different fretboard theory? Do you believe that the CAGED system works exactly the way it sounds? Or do you like to try a bit of everything?

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Whether or not you’ve used the CAGED system of learning to use the fretboard, there has been a significant amount of debate on different forums over whether or not this system actually works for beginner guitar players. The topic has been divisive at best — destroying friendships have been destroyed, relationships forged in the heat of battle, comrades have backstabbed each other, and I’ve witnessed major plot twists not even Steven Spielberg could dream of — the kind of thing would makes for a fantastic story on the silver screen, but maybe a bit over the top for people trying to learn guitar :-)

“Does this really matter that much?” many people are asking. And the answer is yes, it really is a big deal: guitar instructors like myself see a major change when students really understand how a fretboard works. Quite honestly, this is one of the most important aspects of learning to play, considering the amount of time people work on it, just to be able to navigate the fretboard at will.

If you’re aware of this debate, you’ve likely noticed how hard it is to follow based on a number of factors, such as:

  1. Some of the debaters use ad hominem (or, personal) attacks instead of getting to the point, which don’t really make for a good argument.
  2. The debate happens over different media and in different places (Facebook, YouTube, etc..), and many different issues are discussed at the same time
  3. The most pertinent issue, however, is that the majority of people in the debate just state their positions, without having any argument to back up their points (or even without making their point clear!)

Disclosure: I truly believe that believes the CAGED method simply does not work — which, based on the title, or my past articles, might be the reason why you’re here — and so I thought about developing something to show why that is. This is the first video of a series about the issues the CAGED system presents. Each video will dispute ONLY one, simple issue instead of working on a long, incomprehensible litany of grievances.

In this first video, I will show how the CAGED system is often inconsistent. Take a look at the video below to get an idea of what I mean.

The CAGED system only results in the learner having to work harder, learning past concepts over and over to get the same result as other methods in terms of working knowledge, speed, and skill.

About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher. Visit Tommaso’s site to know more about music theory for guitar.

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