Unlocking CAGED Chords
By now, most of you know how to play the easy guitar chords.
I mean the standard C, A, G, E and D chords (some call them “cowboy chords” in reference to their use in country and western music) that a lot of people learn when they start taking guitar lessons.
These chords are great by themselves, you can play a lot of songs with just 2, 3 or 4 chords.
However, after listening to the same old open chords for awhile they can sound repetitive and lose their appeal. The secret is in…
Giving your chords a voice
One way to add a little flavor to your playing is to add some different voicing to your chords.
This is where the CAGED chord system comes in.
As you’ll soon discover, the traditional open chord shapes can be used all over the fretboard.
The way you do this is by turning them into barre chords while retaining their unique shape.
A barre chord frets all six strings at a given position with the first finger of your left hand, then using the remaining three fingers to form the shape of the chord: C, A, G, E or D.
We use the chord shapes to create new chords anywhere on the fretboard
To make this a little clearer let’s start with the “A” chord shape. An open A chord is played like this:
A Major, Open Chord
Let’s move that shape up three frets and see what we get.
Use your first finger on your left hand to cover all six strings at the 3rd fret. Press hard, this will be a bit difficult if you’ve never played barre chords before. Use you second finger on the 4th string 5th fret. Your third finger goes on the 3rd string, 5th fret and your baby finger covers the 2nd string, 5th fret.
C Major, 3rd Fret Barre Chord
And, viola – we have a C major chord. Move it up two more frets and you’ve got a D chord.
D Major, 5th Fret Barre Chord
You can move this chord shape anywhere on the fretboard you’d like to play a major chord.
For every fret you move up the fretboard, you’re raising the pitch of the chord by one semitone. From the open A chord, moving up one fret gives you an A# or Bb chord. Up another fret gives you a B chord and so on.
Now you can play any major chord you want. Try playing a C or D major chord using the “A” shape and compare the way it sounds compared to the open C or D shape. It’s the same chord but the different voicing adds a bit of pizzazz.