Third Lines: CAGED Position

This is part II of a III part series on third lines. Thirds are the building blocks for chords. Learn them. It will pay off. WARNING: Work and thinking involved.

Ultimate Guitar
Prerequisites for this lesson: Before you begin. You should understand CAGED, chords and major scales. You should know your scale degrees and how they are used to construct chords and arpeggios. There are excellent lessons on this site to teach you those things if you don't know them yet. It is not in the scope of this lesson to teach you anything except the 10 CAGED third lines. You must have a desire to learn and willingness to put in some serious time. This is Part II of a series on third lines. You should have learned "third lines one note per string" lesson which I posted here and completed the away from the guitar exercise and have already made the chart. Make your own, if you don't understand the instructions, read the comments and see where you can find a picture of a completed chart. If you have not taken that lesson please do so first. While the fingerings for this lesson are easier than the fingerings for the One Note Per Line fingerings, visualizing the concept is not as easy. In practice each has it's own advantages. You can find Part I here. OK on to the lesson: Things we know: (see prerequisites) There are 5 CAGED major scale positions. C,A,G,E and D. Thirds are every other note. 1,3,5,7,9 aka 2,11,aka 4,13 aka 6,then back to 1 the Tonic. etc For illustration purposes, I have made every other note, an X or an O below for the C shape only. First I show you all the X's, then the O's. They make up the Third Lines. 2 per CAGED position time 5 Positions = 10 lines. Learn these lines, Make a chart. Practice them as you did the one note per string lines, learn them inside out and in pieces, not just the whole line and relate them to your shapes. These do not lend themselves to sweeping as easily as the one note per string lines, but it can be done with hammer on and pull off techniques. Get them in your memory first with alternate picking. Since there is Overlap, to draw your chart of these 10 patterns, use two neck diagrams with scale degrees. Put C,G and D Shapes on the Top neck, and, A and E on the bottom. Use different colors to connect the the X notes and the O notes. Like connect the dots sequentially. The X and O lines will cross, but not lay on top of each other. In ascending order, you will connect notes in this order, 1,3,5,7,2,4,6,1,3 etc. I'm sure that once you have done what I have instructed, that you will have found this lesson to give you some great musical ideas and insight into how notes are laid out on the guitar. Part III of this series is all about applying the 17 lines from these lessons to Scales, modes, chords, arpeggios, playing the changes and soloing. I'm not giving away free fish here; do the work and you will have a net guaranteed to catch lots of fish.
     C SHAPE Major Scale
E|   --|-3--|-4--|----|-5--|--  --|-X--|-O--|----|-X--|--    
B|   --|-M7-|-T--|----|-2--|--  --|-O--|-X--|----|-O--|--    
G|   --|-5--|----|-6--|----|--  --|-O--|----|-X--|----|--    
D|   --|-2--|----|-3--|-4--|--  --|-X--|----|-O--|-X--|--    
A|   --|-6--|----|-M7-|-T--|--  --|-O--|----|-X--|-O--|--    
E|   --|-3--|-4--|----|-5--|--  --|-X--|-O--|----|-X--|--    
     C Shape Third Line 1  
E|   --|-3--|----|----|-5--|--  --|-X--|----|----|-X--|--
B|   --|----|-T--|----|----|--  --|----|-X--|----|----|--
G|   --|----|----|-6--|----|--  --|----|----|-X--|----|--
D|   --|-2--|----|----|-4--|--  --|-X--|----|----|-X--|--
A|   --|----|----|-M7-|----|--  --|----|----|-X--|----|--
E|   --|-3--|----|----|-5--|--  --|-X--|----|----|-X--|--
     C Shape Third Line 2
E|   --|----|-4--|----|----|--  --|----|-O--|----|----|--
B|   --|-M7-|----|----|-2--|--  --|-O--|----|----|-O--|--
G|   --|-5--|----|----|----|--  --|-O--|----|----|----|--
D|   --|----|----|-3--|----|--  --|----|----|-O--|----|--
A|   --|-6--|----|----|-T--|--  --|-O--|----|----|-O--|--
E|   --|----|-4--|----|----|--  --|----|-O--|----|----|--
               A SHAPE Major Scale
E|             --|----|-5--|----|-6--|--  
B|             --|----|-2--|----|-3--|-4  
G|             --|-6--|----|-M7-|-T--|--  
D|             --|-3--|-4--|----|-5--|--  
A|             --|-M7-|-T--|----|-2--|--  
E|             --|----|-5--|----|-6--|--   
E|             --|------5--|----|----|--  
B|             --|----|----|----|-3--|--  
G|             --|-6--|----|----|-T--|--  
D|             --|----|-4--|----|----|--  
A|             --|-M7-|----|----|-2--|--  
E|             --|----|-5--|----|----|--   
E|             --|---------|----|-6--|--  
B|             --|----|-2--|----|----|-4  
G|             --|----|----|-M7-|----|--  
D|             --|-3--|----|----|-5--|--  
A|             --|----|-T--|----|----|--  
E|             --|----|----|----|-6--|--   
                              G SHAPE Major Scale
E|                            --|-6-------|-M7-|-T--|--  
B|                            --|-3--|-4--|----|-5--|--  
G|                            M7|-T--|----|-2--|----|--  
D|                            --|-5--|----|-6--|----|--  
A|                            --|-2--|----|-3--|-4--|--  
E|                            --|-6--|----|-M7-|-T--|--   
E|                            --|-6-------|----|-T--|--  
B|                            --|----|-4--|----|----|--  
G|                            M7|----|----|-2--|----|--  
D|                            --|-5--|----|----|----|--  
A|                            --|----|----|-3--|----|--  
E|                            --|-6--|----|----|-T--|--  
E|                            --|---------|-M7-|----|--  
B|                            --|-3--|----|----|-5--|--  
G|                            --|-T--|----|----|----|--  
D|                            --|----|----|-6--|----|--  
A|                            --|-2--|----|----|-4--|--  
E|                            --|----|----|-M7-|----|-- 
                                        E SHAPE Major Scale
E|                                      --|-M7-|-T--|----|-2--|--  
B|                                      --|----|-5--|----|-6--|--  
G|                                      --|-2--|----|-3--|-4--|--  
D|                                      --|-6--|----|-M7-|-T--|--  
A|                                      --|-3--|-4--|----|-5--|--  
E|                                      --|-M7-|-T--|----|-2--|--  
E|                                      --|-M7-|----|----|-2--|--  
B|                                      --|----|-5--|----|----|--  
G|                                      --|----|----|-3--|----|--  
D|                                      --|-6--|----|----|-T--|--  
A|                                      --|----|-4--|----|----|--  
E|                                      --|-M7-|----|----|-2--|--  
E|                                      --|----|-T--|----|----|--  
B|                                      --|----|----|----|-6--|--  
G|                                      --|-2--|----|----|-4--|--  
D|                                      --|----|----|-M7-|----|--  
A|                                      --|-3--|----|----|-5--|--    
E|                                      --|----|-T--|----|----|--  
                                                       D SHAPE Major Scale
E|                                                     --|-2--|----|-3--|-4--
B|                                                     --|-6--|----|-M7-|-T--
G|                                                     3-|-4--|----|-5--|----
D|                                                     M7|-T--|----|-2--|----
A|                                                     --|-5--|----|-6--|----
E|                                                     --|-2--|----|-3--|-4--
E|                                                     --|-2--|----|----|-4--
B|                                                     --|----|----|-M7-|----
G|                                                     3-|----|----|-5--|----
D|                                                     --|-T--|----|----|----
A|                                                     --|----|----|-6--|----
E|                                                     --|-2--|----|----|-4--
E|                                                     --|----|----|-3--|----
B|                                                     --|-6--|----|----|-T--
G|                                                     --|-4--|----|----|----
D|                                                     M7|----|----|-2--|----
A|                                                     --|-5--|----|----|----
E|                                                     --|----|----|-3--|----

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This lesson is very interesting like the first one, when we do the exercises correctly, in a few time we start to see the shapes of all the arpeggios hidden inside the shapes of the CAGED system, and better, we can do more than one arpeggio at each time. Very well done again, dude. My suggestion to everybody is training with some kind of playback machine(find at the web easily, lik this one: instead of use a metronome, it'will be much more funny, and you can catch the ideas here very easier than with the tec, tec, tec of a metronome. See you.
    I have a few questions regarding your CAGED Position lesson. I don't understand why these are called 'C' shape scales or 'A' shape scales. That would make me think the root would be either C or A for those particular scales, but for a few of the 'C' shaped ones, the lowest scale note is E. Also, I was wondering why CAGED is an important thing to know generally with regards to guitar, and why aren't there B or F shapes. Thanks!
    imills: Understanding CAGED makes it easy to memorize and find chords, notes and scales in different keys on the guitar neck. There are other lessons here to help you understand CAGED on this site, but to answer your question the Letter names C A G E and D come from open chord position fingerings of the 5 basic chord shapes. If you play a basic C chord in open position: The open low and high E stings can be played, as they are the third of the C chord. If you now look at where the "T" for tonic is in the shape that is the C shape you will see that all the other notes are there in the right place for the chord. That same shape appears 3 times. Once the root not position is a 4 and once it is a 5, witch will give you F (the fourth note of the C scale) and G (the fifth note of the C scale) chords respectively. The quickest way to grasp CAGED is to start with the C chord open position then play an A chord and move it up 3 frets barring at the 3rd fret. Now play a G chord without you index finger move everything up 5 frets and barre at the 5th fret with you index finger. Now you have a G shape C. Barre at the 8th fret with what you might think of as the F chord, and you have an E Shape C. There is a D shape with the "T" on the 10th fret on the D string. When we add just 2 more notes to the arpeggio of the chord in these positions, we get pentatonic scales. It you take the pentatonic scale and add the one new note from the 4 chord pentatonic and the one new note from the 5 chord pentatonic, you have all of the notes for the Tonic major scale. A major scale has all the notes from 3 major and 3 minor pentatonic. If you play the C example from the E (from your question) you would be playing E Phrygian Mode witch is all the same notes that are in a C scale only starting on the E. There is no open F chord unique shape, it is the same as a sharp by one fret E shape. There is no unique B open shape, the closest thing is a flatted C shape. Without getting wild with open strings, alternate tunings and improbable stretches, every chord that can be played on the guitar can be related to one of the 5 CAGED shapes. That is a bold statement, but it is true. Based on what the chord is you just add finger here or sharpen or flatten a note there and presto you can master chords on the guitar with a little theory and memorizing only 5 positions and the related scale degrees. It's not that hard. 12 frets before they repeat times 6 strings = only 72 position degrees to remember, easily divided in 5 overlapping position. Check out the other CAGED lessons here, some are a bit weak, but there are several. Once you get it use this Thirds series to help you cement it and see it's implications.