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Thread: CAGED vs learning triads and inversions...

  1. #1
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    Britney's basement

    CAGED vs learning triads and inversions...

    Hey all,

    I've been trying to learn the CAGED system as outlined in Guthrie Govan's Creative Guitar book (the first one), but I'm finding the system to be a little counter-intuitive and slow going so far. Wouldn't it be more practical to learn the triads and their inversions across and along the neck? Also, for scale use, I'm thinking that 3 NPS scales might be a little better...I've learned a few modes just by using one position of a 3 NPS pattern over a few backing tracks, and after internalizing the sound of the mode, I was able to improvise all over the neck after awhile in a mode/scale while not having to rely on scale shapes or fretboard patterns. It just seems like the CAGED system is a long road to visualizing the fretboard....What are your opinions?
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

  2. #2
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    New England
    For those that know harmony in terms of the open position "cowboy chords" - CAGED can be a helpful way to see how inversions work as you move up the neck. I personally feel it's too dumbed-down of an approach.

    I'm a triads and inversions guy (with a heavy bias on 2-octave triad arpeggios) - CAGED does nothing that I can't do with triads and 2-octave arpeggios. I do think that triads are marginally more difficult at the start but immensely more powerful long-term.


  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    I agree - you need to learn "triads and their inversions across and along the neck". But I see CAGED as a system which helps you do this. It would be a mistake to use it any other way, or to see it as a separate device from knowledge of notes and chord tones and functions.

    I think you have a good point too about 3-NPS scale patterns. These naturally break out beyond the fixed CAGED patterns (in which one string always has only 2 notes), and it's always a good idea to be able to link box patterns up the neck in one big scale pattern.
    I personally don't like 3-NPS patterns - in fact, I don't much like scale patterns anyway! I like to work off chord shapes when improvising, so have an instinctive affinity for CAGED. (I learned the neck before I was aware of it as a system.)
    But that's just my view, from my experience, and my taste in how I like to play.
    I don't find CAGED limiting, I see it as a natural expression of the patterns formed by chords on the neck in any case. But then I knew (or knew how to work out) all the triad and inversion shapes before I was aware of it.

    I think the point about CAGED is not to exaggerate its importance. It's not a "method", a magic bullet. It's one tool in the box - a very handy one, but not one that will do every job you need.

  4. #4
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Britney's basement
    Hmmm...I seem to remember from a long while back, a mod on these boards Szulc, (sp?) was going to write an entire book on why you shouldn't use the CAGED method... It just seems as though you are kind of restricted (caged!) in your improv with this system....Maybe I'll give it a chance for a bit to see how we get along...
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

  5. #5
    Registered User Obivion's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    I'd go with triads, CAGED is a little basic. Triads also allow you to build big chords.

    I don't like 3nps patterns, they sounds a little "Gilbertish" to me. The guys I like such as Friedman tend to think outside the box a little more.
    No one sings the blues quite like Yngwie!

  6. #6
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    What I've observed --- some relate to notes, some relate to patterns. However you learned is the way you continue to feel about notes or patterns. If you use patterns CAGED is the third step.

    Step one -- you learn open string chord patterns.
    Step two -- you learn the barre chord patterns.
    Then CAGED is taught next and is just 5 ways to make your barre chords.

    You are right --- you read things about taking CAGED into scales etc. As far as I'm concerned that's a stretch and need not be explored.

    What did I gain from CAGED? The A shape and it's modified little barre. (3 middle strings) Then the D and E shape and taking them up the neck. The C and G shape I found too hard to make so the three shapes I chose from CAGED do everything I need.

    And I agree 3NPS or even 2&3NPS make more since to me (a pattern person) than trying to explain how CAGED relates to scales.

    In my case 2&3NPS led to being aware of the interval numbers, 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. and then that led me to realizing the name of the note I was playing.

    The main thing is that we get to notes. I took the long way around to finally get to notes, but, as I'm mostly rhythm guitar I benefited from those patterns I spent so much time with.

    If CAGED gets you to movable chord shapes and understanding how moving a finger with in the pattern will change the chord -- great. If on the other hand, knowing what notes you need to produce the chord -- and then go get them -- that's great too.

    The main thing is that we all finally got around to knowing what notes are needed. IMHO

    P.S. I'm not sure how CAGED would help you with inversions.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 02-28-2008 at 06:52 PM.

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