Getting Out Of The Guitar CAGED System Part 5

Author: Tommaso Zillio

Learning The Right Scale System

Have you been taught more than one system to visualize scales? Will learning more systems help you learn scales? Are there even any benefits to learning new scale systems?

After reading this series, you’ve heard many reasons why the CAGED system sucks (if you’ve missed it, you can start reading here: CAGED Sucks Part 1: Right Hand Consistency ). This argument has certainly created some debate between CAGED-system apologists and their opponents, and one thing I noticed, was that all CAGED users came to similar conclusions.

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One of the solutions CAGED users present when shown other systems is saying that players should learn a number of systems, rather than just one. But this kind of advice just doesn’t work on a number of different levels.

Let me start by saying this idea is simply wrong. There certainly isn’t any need to learn all of the systems. Believing so makes the assumption that a different system is like getting more perspective on how a fretboard works. However, some systems can do everything the CAGED system does in a better, more complete way. Some systems are better than others — nothing is ever so black and white.

Next, this idea is simply misleading for anybody trying to learn guitar. Even if the systems are high-quality, learning more than one can be confusing; and overall, it’s counter-productive for anybody learning or teaching others to play guitar.

One of the biggest reasons, however, is that muscle-memory becomes ingrained in the player with the first system that they learn, meaning, if it’s not malleable, players will tend to get stuck in the same stylistic traps throughout their career. During my time as a guitar instructor, I’ve had many students who started their learning using the CAGED system, and upon their first lesson, it’s easy to pick them out based on their sound, because they all play they exact same way.

In this next video, I delve into detail about how the brain works when learning different systems, along with what happens when people try to learn every last system — as well as how trying to learn them all can actually make you worse at playing guitar.

There is no need to learn multiple systems to become a flexible player; at least, not when there are flexible systems available. Next time you hear you need to learn many systems to become a good player, just think back to this video, and you’ll know that learning bad systems won’t make you better.

About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a professional player, teacher, and composer. Visit his website to know more about guitar and music theory.

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