Play any chord on the guitar using the CAGED system
Guitar chords are not like normal chords. If you use traditional music theory, the stave, and a piano, you’ll get easy-to-understand chords.
To be able to move around the keyboard, piano players use inversions. Translate this concept to the guitar and we quickly get stuck.
Instead, on the guitar, we use chord shapes and intervals. The chord shapes are derived from the five open-position chords, C, A, G, E, and D, hence CAGED.
These can also be played as minor chords, so Cm, Am, Gm, Em, and Dm.
If you can play these as barre chord shapes and see how all intervals are laid out around each chord shape, you can build any chord.
Below, you find a link to each of the five major and minor CAGED chords. Follow these links and you’ll learn how to transfer, for example, an open position G chord into a moveable G shape.
We then extend this moveable shape into various chords such as dom7, maj7, sus4, etc.
But why stop there, we also look at how to turn these chord shapes into arpeggios and even modes.
As well as the five CAGED guitar chords, we also look at the F, Fm, B, and Bm chords to complete the picture.
If you want to learn everything you need to know about how to build guitar chords, follow the links below.
Major CAGED chords
The C chord
One of the first chords we learn on the guitar is the easy-to-fret and play open-position C chord.
Representing the beginning of the CAGED system, you’ll release the C chord’s full potential when you make it a moveable shape and identify all intervals.
The A chord
The A chord may be your first hurdle as a beginner, how do you play all those notes over five strings?
The answer lies within understanding how to play fractions of a chord, instead of the full shape.
The G chord
The most misunderstood chord of all CAGED chords must be the seemingly straightforward G chord.
Having several options in its open position form, it actually becomes impossible to fret in its full glory, once turned into a moveable shape.
The E chord
Perhaps the easiest chord of them all to understand and fret, is the huge open-position E chord.
Turn this into a moveable chord shape and you have the best starting point for understanding major chords on the guitar.
The D chord
Being the smallest of all guitar chords, the open-position D chord is the easiest to understand and play.
Once you turn it into a moveable shape it becomes very difficult to fret. That’s until you start extending it to maj7, dom7, 6, sus2, etc. Now it becomes easy.
The F chord
Without a doubt, all beginner guitar players’ greatest nemesis is the terrifying and painful F chord.
How long does it take to build up the strength to play this mighty chord? Perhaps the answer is to simply avoid it.
The B chord
The B chord is not part of the CAGED open-position chords, but there’s a very important reason for it being here.
In the video lesson, we go through it using all CAGED shapes. Understand this and you can build all major guitar chords.
Minor CAGED chords
The Cm chord
The open position Cm chord and shape are usually avoided by most guitar teachers and players, you’ll find it in very few tunes.
Being impossible to play as a full shape, the Cm chord will be the fork in the road for you to understand the guitar fretboard.
The Am chord
Super easy to fret both as an open-position chord and as a barre chord shape, the Am chord is a great chord to start with.
As you move it up the neck as a chord shape, all you need is to identify all intervals that surround it.
The Gm chord
Being the odd one out, nobody seems to know what an open-position Gm chord even is. Very few tunes use it.
Surprisingly easy to fret in the open position, the problems start once it’s turned into a chord shape.
The Em chord
The easiest to understand and fret of all minor chords is the Em chord.
Once turned into a barre chord shape, we can see how the solution to understanding the fretboard when it comes to chords and scales simply lies within calling it an Em shape, not position 1.
The Dm chord
As the smallest of all minor CAGED chords, the open-position Dm chord is very easy to fret and understand.
Even as a barre chord shape, it’s all very clear how to build any chord, arpeggio, or mode using a Dm shape.
The Fm chord
By now, we’ve completed the CAGED chords and learned how to play any chord, anywhere on the fretboard.
Using the Fm chord, we test if we can see all shapes using the starting point of F in five shapes.
The Bm chord
The final chord in this video series about guitar chords is the Bm chord, it can’t be played as an open-position chord.
As we complete all possible chords, we discover how the lowest possible Bm chord is an Am shape. However, if extended to min7, it’s the Cm shape.