beyond blues

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Learn how to solo effortlessly using the CAGED system.

Intermediate

Intermediate

  • Learn how to map out the neck with five CAGED shapes.
  • Create melodic lines by targeting chord tones on strong beats.
  • Discover how to enhance your phrases with chromatic notes.
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Originally published on March 15, 2015

The CAGED system is a subject we’ve explored many times before in Beyond Blues, and as you may know, it plays a big role in the way I teach. If you need a quick refresher, or if you’re totally new to the CAGED concept, read “A Guitarist’s Guide to the CAGED System." This CAGED approach doesn’t often generate resistance, but when it does, I usually find that it’s because of a misunderstanding of the system—there’s a lot more to it than just barre chords. While we’ve discussed arpeggios and scale fingerings several times over the years, this lesson will finally bridge the gap between those two.

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When learning guitar, the biggest challenge isn’t mastering fingerings, but rather how to put them together in a musical way. Here are some cool tricks for moving from one shape to another.


Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Connect different areas of the fretboard with some clever fingerings.
• Create lines that outline changes and move through various CAGED positions.
• Learn how to target chord tones.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

One of the most frustrating aspects of learning the guitar is that feeling of being stuck in a box. Some people will tell you it’s a byproduct of the system you use. In reality, unless you have hands that can cover 24 frets without having to move, learning the guitar in sections is inevitable. Whether you choose to see the neck in five small chunks (CAGED), or seven chunks (three-note-per-string shapes), or something entirely different, connecting these positions is essential if you seek the freedom to play what you want, not merely what your shape allows.

As an example, here’s the A Mixolydian scale (A–B–C#–D–E–F#–G) covering three octaves (Ex. 1). I’ve started around the 5th fret, but shifted up on the 1st string to reach the high A.

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The legendary Elvis sideman was a pioneer of rockabilly guitar, and his approach to merging blues and country influenced generations of guitar pickers. Here’s how he did it.


Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Craft simple blues-based phrases that lie within the CAGED system.
• Understand how double-stops are used in rockabilly music.
• Improve your Travis picking.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

In 2016 we lost one of the most influential guitarists and unsung heroes the world has ever known. The driving force behind Elvis Presley’s first recordings, Winfield Scott “Scotty” Moore III helped shape the sound of rock ’n’ roll and inspire generations of fans. Born in 1931, Scotty caught his big break in 1954 when he was called to do a session with Elvis at Sam Phillip’s Sun Studio in Memphis. History was made that day when Elvis recorded “That’s All Right,” and for about four years, Scotty provided 6-string magic for such Elvis hits as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

A huge Chet Atkins fan, Scotty grew up listening to country and jazz. This blend would have a dramatic impact on his sound, as he would mix Travis picking with some ear-twisting note choices based on chords, rather than using an obvious scalar approach.

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