9 Reasons Why the CAGED System For Guitar Scales Sucks

It took the help of a good teacher to let go of the CAGED system and discover that there are other systems out there, more functional and less difficult.

9 Reasons Why the CAGED System For Guitar Scales Sucks
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Are you struggling to learn the CAGED system for guitar scales? Or you have learned it already, but still not feel like you master the fretboard? You have the feeling that these scales patterns are getting in your way? Well, you are not alone. I have learned the CAGED system too, and struggled for a long time to make it work for me. I was really frustrated, and wondered if there was something wrong with me. It took the help of a good teacher to let go of the CAGED system and discover that there are other systems out there, more functional and less difficult. The CAGED system was holding me back. Keep reading. Since the CAGED system of learning guitar scales is the most widespread method to learn guitar scales, many guitarists think that it is also the ONLY "real" or "correct" method. For this reasons many obvious observation regarding the fretboard are credited to CAGED: for instance, I have read countless articles saying that the patterns of octaves on the guitar is "a consequence of the CAGED system." Well, there are other methods to learn guitar scales and all of them obviously use the octave pattern. The fact that some people think that CAGED is "the only way" reaches sometimes ridiculous proportions: I know a couple of local guitar teachers that do not use CAGED but they teach it to their students because, hey, it's the "right way." When they play, on the other hand, they both use "a system they invented," but they readily concede that "of course CAGED is better." And yet, I can't help wondering WHY you should need to invent your own system if the "right" one already exist. Also, these teachers are both unable to tell me exactly how CAGED is superior to their own system. In my experience as a music teacher, I have seen countless students confused and frustrated by this scale system. I also have seen a few who raved about it, only to drop it like a hot potato once I showed them how the system was limiting their playing ability. I am going to elaborate on that in detail in the points below. Keep reading.

There is no integration with arpeggios...

Every time I talk with a CAGED apologist, the very first thing they tell me is that their system integrates scales and arpeggios. This is not true. What it's true is that the scale patterns are superimposed over a major chord shape, but these shapes are not always usable as arpeggio patterns (see below). The only advantage seems to be that they are similar to the open strings chords most beginners know, but that's about it. So, what I mean with "not usable?" I mean that the shapes shown for the chords are difficult to play cleanly and fluidly compared to other shapes such as the standard "sweep arpeggio" shapes. This is partially because some of the shapes are good only for few strings: for instance the "G shape" does not cover strings 2, 3, and 4: these notes must be borrowed from the "A shape," but the resulting pattern is not easy to play as an arpeggio. The "D shape" covers only the first 4 strings, and so on. In all these cases the arpeggio/scale integration seems good visually, but it not as convenient mechanically. Try just to play the scale pattern ascending and then descend using the arpeggio without stopping to see what I mean.

... And only MAJOR arpeggios are featured

As we have see above, all the scale patterns in CAGED are usually shown superimposed to a major chord shape. As it is easy to verify, it is not as common to see them superimposed with a minor chord instead, and they are only rarely shown with diminished, augmented or altered chords. Even the seventh chord patterns are rare. Why it is so? Well, because the shapes for the minor arpeggios in CAGED are less attractive and are more technically difficult than the major arpeggios, and the problem is even worse for diminished, augmented or altered chords. Of course, many CAGED apologists will say that this is not true and that you can use CAGED on minor chords, or on any other chords for that matter. I'm sure this is the case if you are willing to twist your mind enough and put enough hours of work into it - after all a week of hard work can sometimes save you an hour of thought. In some case, though, the proposed solutions border on the absurd: for instance I have seen some horrible ways to patch this problem such as using the relative major chord instead (on the Am chord we use the shapes for the C chord). Such patches make the CAGED system much less direct and intuitive as it seemed at first sight, and still do not address the fact that there are tons of other chords types you need to learn to solo on.

It is technically inconsistent

Have you noticed that few "high speed" players recommend the CAGED system? This is for a very simple reason: because it is difficult to play these scale patterns at a high speed. Now, you may or may not be interested in shredding, but it is a fact that a scale pattern that is difficult to play at high speed WILL put a higher technical burden on your playing at any speed - simply because it's more difficult to play. Everything else being the same, you should always use the simplest way to play something because this way you will have more attention left to the real important expressive elements of music i.e. phrasing (vibrato, slides, etc). Why are the CAGED patterns difficult to play? Because they have 3 notes on some strings and 2 on other strings. This makes them less "consistent" for your right hand technique. The CAGED patters are derived from the principle of "one finger per fret," which is an interesting principle but it's not doing anything to make your playing easier in practice. It is much easier to user more regular patterns such as diatonic scales with 3 notes per strings. This will make easier to pay not only "straight" scales but also melodic patterns ("sequences"). Another problem of CAGED is that most players who use it tend to stay in "position playing": they start and end their solo in a single position of the neck. To see how the CAGED system is technically inferior, I suggest the two following three exercises: 1) try and play the scales as fast as possible. 2) Try to play a scale sequence such as: C, D, E, D, E, F, E, F, G, etc... 3) Restrict your playing to only the first two string, and play the scale patters all across the fretboard. In all three cases you will see that the CAGED system produces some awkward fingering when the scale pattern passes from 3 to 2 notes per string.

Requires a considerable memorizing effort

CAGED apologists like to say that "you just need to memorize only 5 patterns." As we will see in the next point this is not actually true... But let's concede the point for the time being. Other scale systems, like the 3-notes-per-strings system have only ONE pattern if they are taught correctly (not 7 like most people think). Yes, you heard me well. I may dedicate a future article on that if you guys are interested (let me know if the comments). It does not end here. To use a scale pattern effectively when soloing you need to know more than just the pattern: you also need to know where the scale degrees are in the pattern i.e. Which note is the root, which one is the fifth, etc... These must be learned by heart separately for each shape in the CAGED system since these shapes do not have any intervallic regularity.

It is too scale-centric

Every CAGED method I have seen shows the scale patterns superimposed with the chord patterns, often with the comment that "this is how you integrate them." Literally all the method I have seen, though, have you play these scales... But virtually none have you play the arpeggios. As a result most players that use the CAGED patterns have a scale-centric view of the fretboard: everything comes from, or is reduced to, a scale, and since this is the center of their approach this is also the thing they play most in real playing situations. You may have heard or read online the advice that you should "not learn scales as they are bad for you." I have also heard this phrased as "scales are stupid." Of course I don't agree with that: you should learn your scales. But there is a grain of truth in these comments: you should not learn ONLY scales. You should learn ways to break free of the scales whenever you need. But especially you should not rely on systems that make it difficult to play anything but scales.

It locks you in the major scale

The CAGED patterns are always shown for the major scale and its modes, and if you are learning it you will be told that you just need to learn these 5 patterns and then you will just need to play a "variation" on these scales to play every other possible scale. Well, this is true only in a narrow sense: indeed if I change enough notes I can play any other scale, but is this a convenient way to think? How much do I need to change the major scale to arrive to the scale I want? Is it going to be easy? Sometimes the change may be so big that it does not make sense to see it as a simple "variation" from the original pattern. This happens for instance for harmonic and melodic minor scales (and all their modes) of the augmented and diminished scales. What is going to happen in this case is that you will need to learn another set of 5 shapes for every new scale you want to use. You want to play jazz and need the melodic minor scale and modes? This is a new set. You want to play some exotic metal with the Hungarian minor scale? Another set! The CAGED system does not look anymore like an elegant and economic system, right?

Isn't it the system used by Hendrix?

Well, a scale system should not be measured only by its users, rather you should judge based on if it helps you learning the scales and not limiting your choices. But since this is one of the most common claim that CAGED apologists use, let's put it to rest. The CAGED system was invented in the late '70s. Hendrix died in 1970. It's not likely that he figured out the exact system before it was invented since his solos are not played using the CAGED patterns. Simple as that. Other famous players are said to be using CAGED, the most famous probably being Joe Pass - he said so himself. On the other hand, if you read Pass' book on scales, you will discover that he uses 6 different patterns, and not 5 like in CAGED. He also uses them mostly to create chord shapes rather than to visualize scales. From these considerations, it seems clear that Joe Pass was using a different system than what is called CAGED today, even if he called it the same way. But isn't the CAGED system in the curriculum of famous schools like Berklee? Well, yes, but the real question is if their most accomplished students are using it. Let's take for instance one of the most famous Berklee alumni: John Petrucci. Every time a non-pentatonic scale appears in one of his solos it's fingered as a 3-notes-per-strings pattern, not with a CAGED pattern. Interesting.

It's taught the wrong way

Of course, the CAGED system DOES have one advantage. If you already know how to play pentatonic scales, then you can start playing modal scales by adding modal notes to them. For instance, if you are playing the Am pentatonic, and add the notes B and F# then you are effectively playing the Dorian scale. In this case, starting form the 5 standard pentatonic patterns and adding the modal notes you will obtain the CAGED patterns. In other words, the CAGED patterns are a nice way to go between pentatonic scales and diatonic/modal scales... And that's about it. The curious thing is that I have never seen the CAGED system taught this way. All the educational resources that I have about CAGED insist a lot about the fact that the scale patterns are superimposed on the major chord shapes, but do not even mention the pentatonic/modal connection. It is quite interesting that the CAGED system is branded as a "general" system that can handle any playing situation well (which is not true) and it is not explained in the area where it would shine.

Everybody has a different idea of what CAGED is!

Every time I talk about, write about, or otherwise explain why the CAGED system does not live up to the hype, one or two people are bound to say: "Wait a moment this is not the CAGED system. The CAGED system is..." You see, this is another problem with CAGED. It has been "copied" over and over by so many less-than-competent authors that everyone now is teaching a different thing and calls it CAGED. If you are willing to throw enough energy, time, and resources at it, eventually you WILL find a system you like (for a while at least) that is taught under the name of CAGED. This is simply because every way to see the fretboard has been taught before or later under the CAGED name. I have a DVD where the author explains the octave pattern on the fretboard and calls it "the CAGED system." I have a book that states that the standard tuning of the guitar (established in the 16th century) is a consequence of the CAGED system (invented in the '70s). And let's not talk about that YouTube video that explains the 3-notes-per-strings patterns and calls them "a variation of the CAGED system!" If you realize the absurdity of this situation, you will also see why so few people dare to criticize the CAGED system: no matter what to say, you are bound to find someone that will comment "but this is not the CAGED system" followed by endless and fruitless discussions on matters of definitions. But let me tell you something. I own (and have studied) enough instructionals and DVD's on the CAGED system alone to fill a 4-feet shelf in my studio. I believe I have more than half an idea of what I am talking about:-)

But why the CAGED system is so famous?

If you are wondering why the CAGED system is so widespread despite all these obvious problems, I have 3 reasons for you: 1) It's easy to teach. After all, you are just handed down the 5 pattern and supposed to make sense of them. I have seen the consequence of this method in many students who come to me form other teachers: they know these patterns by heart, but they can't apply them to save their life 2) there is a large "industry" behind this. Search online for guitar methods, and you will see that 90% of the results are about the CAGED system. Everybody can sell an eBook about the CAGED system: copy the 5 patterns, put some text around them and BAM! You are in business! 3) Because it can be marketed as a "magic bullet system": just learn the 5 easy patterns and you are on your way. And yet the magic never seems to work the way it's supposed to be. So if you are wondering if it's you being not good enough to understand, rest assured: you are fine. Just throw away these books on CAGED. About the Author: Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for Music Theory applied to Guitar.

163 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    iaceu
    I would very much like to see an article explaining how the three note per string method is only one pattern. I know I can learn the seven, but I haven't put my mind to it. If you can help with that, I'd love to hear it. And I agree, by the way. CAGED does lead to some getting stuck in one position. You can learn ways to move up and down the board, but those ways I find just get me stuck in a new pattern.
    tommaso.zillio
    If I get enough comments from people interested about the "one pattern" I will definitely write the article.
    cpu.stat
    Yes I would like to know that.. I think if we start from root in all the positions we will have only one pattern..That will be great.. Also the Idea of adding two notes to each Pentatonic parttern to get modes is great. I already use it when I solo over major scale. I ll use it for modes.. Also its a good thing to super impose caged over pents
    jpkuz
    Please do... I am trying to learn a good alternative to the CAGED system
    latinromans
    I learnt the pattern at a music and nature camp just outside of Nashville, every single person the room could play every mode flawlessly up and down the neck of a seven string bass after about five minutes of beautifully logical explanations and no demonstration whatsoever. We used a seven string bass because it's a seven string pattern based on fourths, I'm kind of curious if it could be inverted and modified for use with instruments tuned in fifths such as violins.
    crazymez89
    I thought I was alone, but then you posted this!!! Thank You!! I started with CAGED and just found myself at a dead end. Everything just starts sounding the same.
    tommaso.zillio
    I'm glad you liked the article. My message is exactly that: you are not alone! :
    gus.mueller.3
    I figured out CAGED on my own having only heard the term for the first time a few hours ago; it's pretty obvious but I don't see how it gets you anywhere.
    latinromans
    For anyone who's curiosity has been piqued two words, Anthony Wellington, just look him up and you won't be dissapointed, sorry to hog the top but this is a cant miss.
    Greg Trotter
    Teaching the CAGED system is like guitar teacher malpractice. I'd like to see an article on the "one pattern to rule them all".
    20Tigers
    This is a lame article. It's just bashing a useful method of learning the fretboard by highlighting some valid limitations together with a lot of misinformation and hyperbole. There is nothing constructive in this article it is effectively saying "Don't learn this" without providing a real alternative - only hinting at an alternative. The truth is that the CAGED method is useful in some respects and limited in other respects. The 3nps method is useful in some respects but limited in other respects. Used together each can fill in the gaps of the other. Both systems should be a stepping stone with the ultimate goal of complete fretboard knowledge without reliance on fretboard shapes. Learn CAGED and 3nps if you really want to get there and learn them properly. This article though is not USEFUL to anyone because it only argues that something is NOT USEFUL and doesn't give any alternatives. How is this a "lesson"? It doesn't teach anything. It is a criticism. Wouldn't everyone's time be better spent learning about something productive with real benefits?? Lame article, not a lesson at all, how do I vote this down?
    jamstation
    20TIgers, I agree with you completely. Poor article, and it's actually discouraging people from exploring the guitar. CAGED is just a bunch of major triads in different shapes. How you use it and integrate it to form an understanding of the fretboard is entirely up to how much time you put into it. Whether you have a system or not, you have to put in those hours. Tommaso, you really shouldn't be telling people where NOT to sink their practice time, because everybody has their own way of learning. If you claim to be a guitar teacher, then you should understand this. Whether you use CAGED or 3nps, or any other approach, we all have the same objective: learning the fretboard. And while it's the same fretboard for everybody, the way we learn to see it is different for each person. If you're closed-minded about a system, it doesn't mean you have to tell everybody else to be closed-minded too.
    tommaso.zillio
    CAGED person #1: CAGED is a complete system for scales Me: No, it's just a bunch of major triads CAGED person #2: Tommaso is wrong because CAGED is just a bunch of major triads
    jamstation
    Thanks for summarising my comment in one line/sarcasm This is a negative article where you discourage people from learning a simple system with a lot of benefits, and you discourage them from putting time into exploring the instrument.
    tommaso.zillio
    I think you guys should agree between you what the CAGED system is. I was just highlighting that once again, as I described in the article, the line of defense you put on is "this is not the CAGED system" and then every single one of you proceeds to describe a completely different thing from one another. I don't discourage exploring the fretboard. In fact I encourage doing it. I'm just warning people about something that does not work as a scale system but that is marketed as such. If you want to use it for chords, I wrote in in article that it may work for that.
    nick.c
    Dude you are really going to the death on this article . "It may work" for chords, your hilarious. Also those who described it here have described essentially the same thing. Lastly, I'm gunna go out on a limb and say knowing the major chord patterns (caged) is fine for scales (gasp). If you know about intervals and you know where major triads are and you have a brain, you can manipulate the chords to represent any arrpeggio (metal heads, isn't that yngwies whole thing?) or key. Shocking fact : every major has a relative minor key and thus with slight manipulation caged can represent minor chords as welll. You may have to think to figure it out. damn. With regard to speed, sweeping.can be faster than 3 notes per string and caged certainly allows for this. I think that unless your fabled one pattern is just the chromatic scale then you are just teaching another 'system' with flaws. I found the lesson in the article: learn where all the notes on the fret board. Thanks for the tip.
    tommaso.zillio
    It's actually MORE important to know where to NOT sink your practice time. If I had to also explain properly an alternative, this would have become a book. In fact even this article (which is already long) has been cut short... if I wanted to be really complete in my CAGED criticism it would have been twice as long. Also, the fact that neither CAGED or 3nps (for instance) does everything does not automatically mean that they are on the same standing. 3nps is a much useful way to learn scales and gives you more usable results than CAGED given the same amount of effort. When you consider that neither of them is complete, you have also to consider HOW MUCH they are missing in order to be complete - and they are not the same under this respect.
    20Tigers
    Do you seriously believe that when learning a skill it is MORE important to learn what you shouldn't be practicing than finding out what you should be practicing??? Adding an eye roll to the end of the sentence doesn't make it common sense!!! It's an absurd argument and the eye roll has the opposite effect. Teaching people the negative aspects of other methods of learning is not a productive use of the students learning time, teaching an alternative method that works in a positive manner is far more effective. It's not a difficult concept. Mistakes should always be corrected. The best way to correct a mistake is by teaching the right way to do something, not by focusing on the mistake. So even if you believe the CAGED method is a waste of time you are focusing on the mistake, not on the correction. In doing so you will only serve to create doubt, confusion, and fear. The guitarist that started on CAGED now says, oh no I'm learning the wrong thing, but what am I meant to learn. And those that have learnt this method and previously found it useful might start worrying that it will produce flaws in their playing that might hold them back later. But it does nothing to resolve the doubt, confusion, or fear with correct instruction. This kind of tactic is common in sales. The tactic being to create doubt and fear in the potential customer. Let that doubt and fear fester before providing a way to solve the problem - at a fee of course. I'm not trying to suggest you are selling anything - 3nps method is freely available to anyone that cares to look. But creating a problem where there is none while only hinting at how to solve is effective for selling, not teaching.
    Amarthi
    Great article, btw I would love to hear about the one pattern thing.
    cmvideo
    I have to admit, I've been playing guitar for about 23 years now, took lessons for 4 years when I was a teenager and I have never heard of the CAGED system. Where have I been?? My guitar teacher was an awesome classical/pop metal player (it was the late 80's!, lol). He taught me the 3-notes per string pattern and the relationships between the notes and intervals. (PS - isn't that the reason why there is only 1 scale, not really 7? Because the intervals are always the same. The shape of the scale may change depending on the notes you start on but not the actual notes so thus, it's the same scale). HOWEVER, after I just looked up the CAGED system online, I think it definitely would have helped me if taught in combination with the 3 note method. The CAGED system is a really good way to see how major chord overlap each other as you move up the fretboard. Once you get the pattern, it makes it very easy to find the major chord you need anywhere on the neck. That would be very handy for a learning guitar player. Why couldn't you use the CAGED system for orienting yourself to the basic chord shapes all over the guitar neck, then use the modes for a better way to learn the scales? I can see the limitations of CAGED when trying to solo... so use the modes to get up and down the neck. When I first started playing, I personally had a tough time applying intervals without having a good visual in my mind. The CAGED system does provide a nice visual (based around the major chords) that makes sense to me and would have helped me understand the relationships a bit easier. I agree with you, the CAGED system is a limited system and can hinder your development if that's all you learn. But it shouldn't be brushed aside because some teachers can't figure out how to integrate it with other teaching styles. The best teachers are the ones that recognize how their students learn and adapt their style.
    DBKGUITAR
    Then what system should we learn?
    guitar/bass95
    If you have patience and common sense you don't need a system. I've never used any kind of system and I know the fretboard inside and out, along with every practical scale and chord shape there is. Only thing it takes is a little bit of common sense and you can figure everything out without these "magic bullet ways".
    crazysam23_Atax
    I agree with guitar/bass95. I was taught (early on) to use the "box shapes", which do teach you scales -- provided that your guitar teacher actually teaches you the intervals/degrees of the scale along with box shapes (mine did not). It wasn't until I noticed that many of the "greats" didn't use box shapes that I realized I was limiting myself. I don't apply any kind of playing system today. Rather, I use common sense and a bit of music theory to compose and/or improvise.
    Saintp83
    You meant to say, a little common sense and A LOT of time that you could have eliminated if you did learn couple short cuts.
    jardennis
    I am baffled by your comment, "common sense". What is common sense to you is not common sense to a beginner. You mention major scales, diatonic, pentatonic and arpeggio patterns. What common sense did you apply to these scales/patterns?
    jaytee_metal
    3 note per string scales are great, you should try it! Once you memorize the seven patterns in one key, the rest of the keys get much easier to learn and master.
    DBKGUITAR
    Thank you guys, I'll try the 3 note per string thing, i'll try to use my common sense too
    Sir_Taffey
    It's personaly the way I do it and teach people it makes writing in any major key a breeze (that is if you are learning the major shapes ) Although it does get a little less fun when you do harmonic minor and other (non-symmetrical) scales, but worth the effort, but I'll eat my words when Tommaso does his lesson on the major being one shape
    latinromans
    I find once you know the original pattern even though it takes away from the sheer simplicity having to know only three finger patterns modifying a couple notes at a time comes pretty naturally with a bit of repetition
    DaliLama
    Totally excellent points. I'm on the fence with the CAGED system, sometimes it feels good to play in a "box", that's about the only time I use it. As far as the 3 note per string patterns being only one pattern that is absolutely true and it's pretty amazing. I first saw it in Richard Lloyd's The Alchemical Guitarist column he had a few years back in guitar world. 3 note per string patterns only have 3 possible finger combinations. Full: Fingers 1, 2, and 4 2 frets apart. Middle: 1,2, and 4 in regular position spacing, and Ring: Fingers 1,3, and 4 in regular spacing. You do one finger combo per string to the pattern full, full, (shift 1 fret), middle, middle, ring, ring, full. Every 3 note per string pattern follows that pattern but they all start at a different point. Of course that might be hard to grasp like that, I think most people need a more thorough explanation. A well written article on it would blow a lot of people's minds, I definitely think you should do it!!!
    tommaso.zillio
    Yup, that's one way to think about it, and a good start. There's more to find, but you are on the right road.
    armaghk
    I love it - please share your 1-pattern approach. I've been working with a similar concept on my website that's more of a 3 pattern approach: a major scale staring on either your 1st, 2nd, or 4th fingers. (The third just gets awkward.) I'd love to see how yours compares.
    Smudgee
    I don't even fully understand what the CAGED system is, nor do I care. To learn my fretboard I just sat in my room and worked things out for myself, using my ears and some basic music theory (semitones and all that stuff)
    Unreal T
    all you need to know is intervals . if you know your intervals you can create any chord you want and play whatever you want. and yeah the CAGE system does suck major balls.
    aelkeris
    Amasing, now we know why CAGED system sucks, but can you tell us any other system? Honestly im not even sure what CAGED system is.
    ashwinpc1993
    you said that in the three notes per string scales there is only one pattern, and that it has a deeper connection with the 5ths and 7ths. Could you please do an article on that or post a link to where i could learn that?
    iduno871
    I learned on the CAGED system, and feel that it immensely helped me with my understanding of the fretboard. It's by far not the only thing you need to learn in order to master the guitar and scales, but it does give you a VERY solid sense of patterns and note placement.
    florence007
    Bloody good article! But what would you recommend as a substitute for the CAGED system?
    nick.c
    So learning about Inversions (effectively what caged is about) is bad because you can't play them fast? We are basically just talking about diatonic modes and major chords The idea of being a caged 'player' is ridiculous. You are just playing chords! Its not a 'system'. However you do it you gotta learn it one way or the other. Just because you had a bad experience with the caged method does not mean you should waste an article slagging it. Show us your wide stretch super speed patterns and leave the dissing to the comments.
    tommaso.zillio
    CAGED may be about inversion (in some interpretations... as I say in the article there is more than one system called "CAGED") but it's not the only way to study them, nor the best. Of course you have to study your inversions. Don't confuse the system you are using to study inversions with the inversions themselves. Uh, and I did not have "a bad experience". I'm just observing that people who use CAGED are consistently limited in very predictable ways, and that it does not have be this way. It's a pattern I have seen in countless people, in some of my students (coming from other teachers), in many players I know. I'd say, before bashing out someone that honestly criticize a system, go out there and learn other systems. Then you can decide for yourself. But if you think that CAGED is "not a system" then you just confused the learning system with the thing you needed to learn.
    nick.c
    Regardless of what 'system' it is presented in, a chord is a chord. How can there be a best way to learn a major is a 1st, 3rd and 5th. It is what it is and that knowledge can be best expressed in whatever way a student can best digest it. In my opinion, subscribing strictly to any one method/ system can be dangerous if you are learning independantly or teaching.' You may as well use as many 'systems' as lead you to where you want to go. They should all end up teaching you the same thing ; in music any thing goes as long as its what you wanted. this article is about you trying to sell us on your prefered system or method of teaching the basics of diatonic harmony.( whether that was your intention or not) Thats fine, everyone is entitled to teach from their own perspective and i am certain you are a fine teacher. However, in this article your observations dont serve any purpose. We learn nothing other than to distrust those who choose to present intro theory via this method. A musician can be effective in even the most basic ways (neil young for instance) and simply because you see patterns that you deem ineffective in someones playing does not mean YOU should bash everyone out there trying to teach chords using this method(whatever you think it is). I don't mean to bash you but I think that your ( and now my haha) time could have been better used to teach rather than slag.. internet arguing is fun haha!
    latinromans
    I love how people always interpret trying to criticize accepted dogma using personal observations as trying to authoritatively tells us there's only one right way to do things because he thinks he's ****ing god or something. Remember, your no longer in school, you don't have learn something as the gospel truth just because it's in front of you. Based on the comments many people found this helpful and I'm glad this discussion came up. Your right, there is a lot more to musicianship than sheer speed and technical ability, however when that's what I'm going for I got a system that beats CAGED hands down based on personal experience, to each their own.
    DreamGate
    Very true. Especially the 'It locks you in the major scale' point. I myself am a huge Byzantine scale lover (which. Although i might be mistaken but, is an extension of the Hungarian scale from a different tonic note) and find that the CAGED system cages you inside the major scale and its diffrent patterns (god forbid I mention modes in UG). That for me was the main reason why I scrapped the system almost entirely.