# UnCAGED Fretboard Hacks

### Use the CAGED system for more than just chord shapesâ€”use it to navigate your melodic highway on the fretboard.

Intermediate

Intermediate

â—Ź Visualize and unlock vertical fretboard moves.

â—Ź Learn how to not be bound within a "box" shape when soloing.

â—Ź Apply the CAGED system to the pentatonic scale as well as the major scale.

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Do you feel confined within the same scale shapes or set of frets every time you go to rip a solo? If so, this lesson is for you. Or, if you're confident in your ability to move both horizontally and vertically around the fretboard, this lesson might help you to see the fretboard even better.

Most people think of the CAGED system as a way to play different shapes of the same chord up and down the fretboard, but it's even more useful when thinking in terms of scales. If you're unfamiliar with the CAGED system, hit up PG's in-depth guide here. Today, we're not focusing on memorizing scale positions, but rather on how to weave shapes together in order to navigate the guitar neck. The examples can be used as licks, but overall, this is meant to be more of a roadmap than an itinerary.

Ex. 1 does nothing more than play a four-note grouping from the G major scale (Gâ€“Aâ€“Bâ€“Câ€“Dâ€“Eâ€“F#) in different octaves on different strings. Using the 7, root, 3, and 4 of the G major scale in an ascending fashion, I navigate the fretboard vertically using the CAGED system as my shell.

I start in the "G" position, and work my way through the "E," "D," "C," and "A" positions, which lands me 12 frets up from where I started, but on the opposite side of the fretboard. This example is the same idea behind the rudimentary exercise many of you might have learned early on when finding and memorizing all the octaves and fretting positions of a single note across the entire fretboard.

### Ex. 1

In Ex. 2 I show you an idea that works well as a triad-based lick, but really is a tool that ties together positions of the CAGED system by putting the 3 of each chord position on the bottom of each triad (also known as first inversion). In this case we're working in the key of E, meaning that there will be a G# on the bottom of each triad. In terms of CAGED positions this example starts with the "E" position and continues until you are back in the "E" position 12 frets higher. To finish the lick, the "E" and "D" positions are repeated 12 frets from where we started. The "G" position isn't forgotten. I like to think of the "A" position with a 3 on the bottom the same as the "G" position with the low root omitted. This line of thinking makes for a bit more efficiency and fluidity.

### Ex. 2

Ex. 3 uses the "D," "E," and "G" positions of the CAGED system in the key of A, but this time we're descending the fretboard. This simple lick is focused on the light tension created by highlighting the suspended forms of each of the chord shapes used. There's no right or wrong fingering here and using slides between shapes tends to make things smoother.

# Ex. 3

In Ex. 4 we begin to stretch our perception of the CAGED system. We're playing the E minor pentatonic scale (Eâ€“Gâ€“Aâ€“Bâ€“D) but using the CAGED system to navigate the fretboard using the relative major shapes of G major. To ease the learning curve of this method, we're only using the 1st and 2nd strings. If you're unclear about the theory behind relative majors and minors, it's relatively simple. (See what I did there?)

Any major scale will share the same notes as a minor scale based on a root a minor third below. For example, if you were to play a G major scale and an E minor scale (Eâ€“F#â€“Gâ€“Aâ€“Bâ€“Câ€“D), the notes would be the same.

In our example here, we're using the CAGED system shapes of a G major chord to outline the E minor pentatonic scale. I'm starting in the "G" position and continuing up the neck through all positions of the CAGED system before returning to the "G" position 12 frets higher.

This might take a moment to wrap your head around, but once it clicks it's like a magic key that unlocks previously hidden areas of the fretboard.

### Ex. 4

In Ex. 5, I take what we learned in Ex. 4 and apply it to all 6 strings. It's the same idea of using the CAGED system alongside the G major/E minor scales to create a highway vertically on the fretboard. Again, fingerings don't make a ton of difference hereâ€“fluidity and accuracy do.

### Ex. 5

The CAGED system is widely understood but also widely underutilized by many guitar players. Combining relative major scales and the CAGED system can be like Bradley Cooper taking the pill in Limitlessâ€“except this brain hack exists in the real world and you can have it too. Use this lesson not as a guide to hot licks, but rather as a tool to build your own connections across six strings and 20-something frets.

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## Andy Timmons Unveils New Song & Announces 'Electric Truth' Album

### Whether in the studio or on his solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything heâ€™s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldeanâ€™s â€śHicktown,â€ť since 2005. Plus, heâ€™s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

Shoenfeld recently let PGâ€™s John Bohlinger in on some of his sonic secrets, running through his session rig at East Nashvilleâ€™s 3Sirens studio.

[Brought to you by Dâ€™Addario Nexxus 360 Rechargeable Tuner: http://ddar.io/Nexxus.RigRundown]

### Melody Maker Magic

Shoenfeldâ€™s choice of guitar depends on the song, but a good deal of the time he plays his 1964-â€™65 Gibson Melody Maker. Before Adam got it, the guitar had been modded with a Badass bridge and the original pickup was swapped for a DiMarzio X2N engraved â€ś1979.â€ť All his electric guitars are strung with Dâ€™Addario NYXLs, gauged .010â€“.052.

### Itâ€™s That Strat

People think theyâ€™re hearing humbuckers on Jason Aldeanâ€™s â€śHicktown,â€ť but it was played on this stock American-built 1998 Fender Stratocaster.

### Orange Squeezer

Next in the arsenal is this Bigsby-equipped Gretsch 6120 from the early 2000s.

### P-90 Powerhouse

For a P-90 tone, Shoenfeld goes with this 1964 Gibson SG Junior. Other than the bridge, the instrument is all stock.

### Nashville Necessity

To cover countryâ€™s de rigueur twangy bite, Shoenfeld employs this Fender â€™72 Telecaster Custom reissue, built in 2004.

### Tricky Ricky

A rare, exotic gem, this all-stock 1964 Rickenbacker 330 is used by Shoenfeld for sessions and is his main guitar when heâ€™s fronting his own project.

### Morgan Workhorse

Shoenfeld describes this Morgan SW-50, modded by Joe Morgan for more headroom, as â€śvery Bassman-ish, but a little squishier â€¦ tubier.â€ť

### First Bassman

He also relies on this racked blonde Fender Bassman from the early â€™60s.

### Ver-Z-tility

This jack-of-all-tones Dr. Z MAZ-38 has been modded by Nashville-based boutique amp make Ebo Customs.

### Conjugatinâ€™ Verb

Ebo Customs also made this sweet tube-driven E-Verb reverb unit. Youâ€™ll find one of these in fellow studio ace Tom Bukovacâ€™s rack, too.

### Vox Box

The Vox Cambridge was introduced in 1965. This oneâ€™s from the next year, when both tube and solid-state versions were made. Check out the video for the inside scoop on this doggie.

### 50 Watts of Law

The Marshall JMP combo is a truly iconic ampâ€”with big teeth and big tone. This all-stock example was built in 1977.

### Hemp Power

This Fender 2x12 Bandmaster bottom cab carries some fat: Itâ€™s loaded with a pair of Tone Tubby Hempcones.

### Board, Not Bored

Thereâ€™s plenty to get excited about in this pedalboard built by Nashvilleâ€™s XAct Tone Solutions (XTS). First stop is an XTS buffer box, with in/out pass-throughs, an FX insert (between the Xotic AC Booster and Dyna Comp), a MIDI-in for the Line6 M9, external expression inputs, a click-in for the Lightfoot Labs Goatkeeper, plus a buffer thatâ€™s always on, a ground switch, and an extra pedal power jack. Next: a Dunlop Volume (X), a ZVEX Box of Rock, the AC Booster, an MXR Dyna Comp, an EHX Pitch Fork, and Xotic X-Blender (keeping an EHX Micro-Synth and Jetpack Mods XP1000 modulation and filter pedal on tap), an original Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer, a Catalinbread Teaser Stallion fuzz, the Lightfoot Labs Goatkeeper tremolo, a Strymon Mobius, a Strymon El Capistan, and a Line 6 M9. Finally, thereâ€™s a versatile db Instrument Amp expression pedal with two left/right pots and two up/down pots. A Voodoo Labs Mondo supplies the juice.

## 7 Positions to Shred Success

### Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Hereâ€™s how to use them wisely.

Beginner

â€˘ Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
â€˘ Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
â€˘ Develop a smooth attackâ€”even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when itâ€™s time to step up and rip. Iâ€™m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.

I prefer to not teach each position based on a modal name, as sometimes they are taught. Personally, Iâ€™ve found labelling of positions like that can lead to confusion when learning the modes in a harmonic situation. To further emphasize this, no harmonic context has been given (aside from the fact that these are all based around the parent scale of G Major to give us positions to work with).

The goal here is for you to learn the sequence, pick out what you like from it and then work it into different applications. These applications could be taking a sequence from one position into another position, seeing if you can keep the same contour. Most importantly, you can spend time starting and ending the phrases around certain intervals to emphasize the chord that youâ€™re playing over.

A technical note before we get started: Iâ€™ve transcribed the various hammer-ons and pull-offs that I use when playing these phrases at full speed. However, the secondary goal here is for you to find your own way of playing the examples that suit your style and sound. I use a mix of legato, hybrid picking, and sweep/economy picking. My advice is to look at the lines and listen to them. See what feels right for you.

Despite what angry YouTube comments might say, technique is feel (and vice versa) We can talk about technique and all the ins and outs of it, but unless we try it and feel how it is to play, we wonâ€™t find our own path and sound. We wonâ€™t develop our own confidence. As the Zen saying goes, â€śThe thought of your mother is not your mother.â€ť

Letâ€™s start in 3rd position, a fitting way to begin our exploration in G. Ex. 1 is a legato phrase that starts off with an eight-note pattern that repeats across adjacent strings sets. The final measure outlines a G major triad with a trick string-skipping phrase on beat 2.

### Ex. 1

Working through the diatonic arpeggios is a great way to create new lines and sequences. In Ex. 2, I go through Em7, Bm7, F#m7b5, and Cmaj7 before I outline an Am9 arpeggio.

### Ex. 2

Rhythmic variety is a crucial part of any well-rounded vocabulary. Moving between different subdivisions is a great way to inject new life into a lick. Ex. 3 moves between straight 16th-notes and sextuplets (or 16th-note triplets). Although the pattern is relatively easy to hear, it moves fast, so focus on discovering the best fingering for you.

### Ex. 3

Ex. 4 moves around quite a bit, between legato fragments and arpeggio fragments. In the middle we have a classic displaced ascending sequence of fours through the scale that starts in the end of measure 1. We also utilize some slides on different strings. Watch out for this! Iâ€™ve found in my playing that timing can go astray on slides.

### Ex. 4

Ex. 5 is built around finding 3-1-3 and 2-1-2 patterns within this position. These terms are based on the number of notes before you change strings. A 3-1-3 pattern consists of three notes on a string, then one note on the next string, and finally three more notes on the final string. A great example starts on the second note of the phrase (G) and ends on the F# before beat 3.

There are some shifty slides like the last phrase (watch the timing!) and thereâ€™s also a mix of legato and picking to emphasize certain parts of the phrase. The line ends with a large arpeggio based on Em7 and F#m7b5. Dig the 2-1-2 phrasing here!

### Ex. 5

Since we are roughly thinking in the key of G major, Ex. 6 is sometimes referred to as the â€śminorâ€ť position since we start on E, the relative minor of the key. This phrase is built on a sequence based around a 3-1-3 pattern and we aim to keep this sequence going throughout the whole position. This lick is a great one to move around the neck.

### Ex. 6

Ex. 7 runs away with an initial legato sequence similar to the one found in Ex. 4, however we keep it going through the whole position before ascending through a fragment based on Ex. 1. Then I fill in the gaps of each phrase with some chromatic notes. The goal here is to aim for evenness of timing on the 16th-notes.

### Ex. 7

With these licksâ€”or even parts of themâ€”you will be able to navigate the fretboard with ease. Just remember: These licks are simply raw materials. Itâ€™s up to you to make music out of them.