Why CAGED for Guitar Doesn't Work Part 1: Inconsistent Picking

Is CAGED the best system to learn guitar scales and chords, or there are better alternatives? Let's examine together the problems of CAGED starting from it effect on your picking hand.

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"The key of performance is elegance, not battalions of special cases" (Jon Bentley and Doug McIlroy)

Have you ever had somebody teach you the CAGED method of learning chords and scales on the neck of a guitar? Or do have you taken a look and thought, "that method just isn't for me?" Or do you give every method you see a chance?

Whether or not you've used the CAGED system of learning to use the fretboard, there has been a significant amount of debate on different forums over whether or not this system actually works for beginner guitar players. The topic has been divisive at best - destroying friendships have been destroyed, relationships forged in the heat of battle, comrades have backstabbed each other, and I've witnessed major plot twists not even Steven Spielberg could dream of - the kind of thing would makes for a fantastic story on the silver screen, but maybe a bit over the top for people trying to learn guitar:-)

"Does this really matter that much?" many people are asking. And the answer is yes, it really is a big deal: guitar instructors like myself see a major change when students really understand how a fretboard works. Quite honestly, this is one of the most important aspects of learning to play, considering the amount of time people work on it, just to be able to navigate the fretboard at will.

If you're aware of this debate, you've likely noticed how hard it is to follow based on a number of factors, such as:
  1. Some of the debaters use ad hominem (or, personal) attacks instead of getting to the point, which don't really make for a good argument.

  2. The debate happens over different media and in different places (Facebook, YouTube, etc..), and many different issues are discussed at the same time.

  3. The most pertinent issue, however, is that the majority of people in the debate just state their positions, without having any argument to back up their points (or even without making their point clear!)
Disclosure: I truly believe that believes the CAGED method simply does not work - which, based on the title, or my past articles, might be the reason why you're here - and so I thought about developing something to show why that is. This is the first video of a series about the issues the CAGED system presents. Each video will dispute ONLY one, simple issue instead of working on a long, incomprehensible litany of grievances.

In this first video, I will show how the CAGED system is often inconsistent. Take a look at the video below to get an idea of what I mean.

The video clearly shows how the CAGED method lacks consistency, and how much harder players, when using that system, are going to have to work to learn to play a guitar efficiently and at the level they dream of.


Part 2: Scales/Arpeggios Mechanical Integration
Part 3: Why 5 Shapes and What Has the Tuning to Do With It?
Part 4: Learning to Stretch

About the Author:

Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for music theory applied to guitar.

167 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jace Bastian
    Awesome video!! The points that really hit home for me was the fact that CAGED takes 5x longer to learn(!) and you need to learn 35 different scale positions(!)...Crazy! Thanks for the video, and I can't wait to see the rest in the series!
    AJGNW
    This comparison was extremely valuable and eye-opening. I've always felt that something was "off" about the CAGED system, but I couldnt put the finger on it. When you compared the time spent between the systems I realised how much sense it made about why people seem to struggle with the CAGED system. Great video! Thanks!
    tommaso.zillio
    I agree. It's better to spend less time learning scales and more time learning how to make music. That's why it's important to have a consistent set of scale patterns.
    AJBck
    I am quite an analytical person by nature but I've never thought about this scale shape issue in such a systematic and scientific way before. As someone who learned most scale patterns the caged way, I can see (with some frustration I might add) how much longer it took me to get anywhere with fast playing because of the issue explained in this video. Speed isn't everything, but it is clearly important if you want to play difficult music. The difference in picking efficiency there looks huge (5x more I think you said?!). Man. This is another one of those 'wish I knew years ago' things. Anyway, thank you for the video!
    tommaso.zillio
    Exactly. Speed isn't everything (though it may be important to some), but the point I am making goes beyond speed. It's much easier to be versatile and "break up" the scale when the scale pattern is consistent.
    M Scholtemeijer
    As someone who used to teach CAGED to students many years ago I can say from experience that Tommaso is correct in that progress is much slower compared to 3nps with regard to right hand consistency. Looking forward to the next videos in the series!
    Sam-Russell
    That's a great point with CAGED, and after watching you explain it, it seems super obvious! Thank you.
    paulhudginsgt
    I take no issue with the 3NPS system but your video fails to address one of the key components of any discussion around teaching. Not all students approach learning the fret-board as beginning players and not all players have the same goals for the end result. This is key, because while the CAGED system may or may not be harder for a beginner student to learn. A student who already knows 3NPS will gain new ideas from reviewing the CAGED system as it forces the player to look at the fret-board in a different way. I personally prefer the Segovian method of looking linearly down each string. But I incorporate some 3NPS ideas stolen from guys like Gilbert, etc. I recently spent time reviewing the CAGED system and expanded my ability to find Open Chord voices instantly. Literally within 5 minutes I knew 20 or 30 more voicings for triads I could move around the fret-board to any progression. Now when I look at the fret-board I see a combination of all 3 methodologies. That is the point, every student is different. the thing that makes the guitar such a unique instrument is the room for each individual to view the neck in a unique way and phrase differently. I find it shocking that so many people reject a methodology for viewing the fret-board because they think it is less efficient or more work. So while there is nothing wrong with advocating a preference for a system. A teacher advocating one system over another is really saying, "I care more about my ego than my students". A good teacher understands the goals and playing level of the student first and sets the methodology based around what the student wants to achieve and already knows.
    tommaso.zillio
    I actually do agree with the majority of what you say. This video (and all the series that follow) was motivated exactly by me seeing a number of "teachers" recommending the CAGED system as the cure for every illness. I used the 3nps system here to show the inferiority of CAGED in the specific respect of efficiency. Again, this is one point among many, and there is more than one good system (3nps is only one, the one I personally prefer, but not the one I use exclusively, nor the only one I teach) As you will see in the next video of the series, there is a better way to visualize chords than the CAGED system... and this other way also happen to integrate perfectly with 3nps and be efficient on its own for both chord and arpeggio playing. My contention here is not that the things that CAGED does are wrong, but that most of the things that CAGED does can be done better by other approaches (that incidentally integrate really well!). It's not that I recommend one system, it's more that I DON'T recommend the CAGED system. Finally, regarding teaching a student in respect to his level, goals, etc... of course. You will understand that I can't do this in a single video. I'm taking this point by point. When I teach in person I give a thorough interview to all new students to know how and what to teach them, and even when people take my online courses I do recommend only the ones that will be useful for their situation/goals. Just today I referred someone who asked for my courses to another teacher I know because in that specific case my courses were not the best option for that student. So I know EXACTLY what you mean, and I agree 100%
    paulhudginsgt
    The problem then lies with teachers who are short sighted not the system. Let's take an example. I have a student who knows basic chord shapes and comes to me for lessons. He doesn't want to learn to play scales but he does want to enhance his chord knowledge. It would be crazy to have him learn 3NPS so you could then teach him chords built out of that system when by already learning the basic chords he knows the building blocks to CAGED. Likewise, it would be less efficient if someone came asking to work on alternate picking patterns ala Paul Gilbert and you made him cycle through the CAGED system first. I think it is great that certain teachers advocate certain systems. However you don't have to criticize one to hold up the virtue of another.
    tommaso.zillio
    I like your reasoned approach, I differ only in what I would do in practice, but the reasoning is similar. If someone wants to learn chords, of course I would not go through all 3nps, but I would teach him chords using a complete different system (you will see a little part of it in the next video). Again, my point is that everything I have seen CAGED do, can be done more efficiently by other systems, that integrate well together. And since the issue is complex, I separated the various points in more than one video. In this one I talk only about scales, in the next we will see something about chords. I'm not trying to push ONE system (3nps is an example here). Just trying to show that there are better alternatives - more than one in fact.
    drewlee
    Great video, and great points. Coming from the perspective of a new guitar student, learning the CAGED scale shapes is definitely not an efficient way to learn.
    Shreddermeister
    wow, the comment zone here feels like a war of guitar teachers, ... I like it
    NickFilipoff
    Because Tommaso can easily hold his ground. He clearly knows what he's doing and people just like to cause shit for no reason. Instead of just absorbing what he's saying and trying to use it, they are going to pick shit at him till he quits... good luck
    DanMayhew
    Tommaso, once again you've outdone yourself with this video. It's great to see you go really in-depth on a particular part of a system, going through all of the pitfalls and the pros and cons of it, instead of cram everything about the system into one video. I wish people could stay on topic because then it would make for a very interesting debate and learning experience for everyone, but as always when people can't refute a claim being made they resort to making other claims themselves forcing people like Tommaso to chase them down even though he's already going to cover these points in later videos. What does that tell you about Tommaso? Can you see how dedicated he is as a teacher, not to just his own students but to people learning guitar all over the world. he's willing to spend time trying to help you guys by commenting on all the arguments that don't even belong here (that's what the rest of the videos are going to be for... stay on topic!!) instead of just passing it all off by saying "I'm going to a idea on this"... because that's all he could say. So who's going to claim that learning 5 picking patterns is easier than 1? Anyone? EDIT: It also saddens me to see that people have to resort to personal attacks and name calling.
    J-Womack
    Thank you for making this video Tommaso. You've presented your first point in a way that's easy to understand, shown the 3nps and caged systems side by side for a comparison that allows the viewer to see the obviously inferior system for themselves and remained calm and rational throughout. A great teacher indeed! Looking forward to future videos!
    Simon Candy
    I'm really looking forward to the other videos in this series! Can't people understand that the current video is making one single point why 3NPS is better than CAGED. Pretty hard to argue against this point too.
    MadMan'sDiary42
    Indeed it is hard to argue against it, that's why nobody's done it successfully yet xD They just make stabs at him like he said they would. Not to mention misunderstanding what he even means by inconsistent, missing that he isn't REALLY saying CAGED doesn't work (just that it takes longer to work), and, like you said, somehow missing that this is just the FIRST point of a series. I suppose that's the internet for you.
    Jace Bastian
    Exactly. Why is it so hard for some people to stay on topic and not resort to personal attacks? Answer: Their argument doesn't hold water. I'm eagerly awaiting for someone to have a legitimate, rational counterpoint to the ONE point from this video, but I'm starting to lose hope...
    Nuxx00982
    I feel you should've said "Plot twists M. Night Shyamalan could dream of" but I digress. Good stuff either way.
    jure.golobic
    Great video! I never thought about this obvious advantage of 3nps patterns. Makes total sense. I'm really looking forward to the next video. Thank you!
    Simon Candy
    Great video Tommaso! Makes perfect logical sense to me. Looking forward to the other videos in this series
    bmarks75
    Great article Tommaso! I have to admit to not really knowing anything about the CAGED system and after seeing this video and other articles you have posted about the CAGED system, I'm glad I never wasted any time on it.
    ptalamo
    Hi, Mr tommaso.zillio I like your point Pentatonic Scales with CAGED is relay something difficult for hands Specialy on Blues Major Scale 2. Only point you are missing there or negelecting I think is that this kind of exercises are just here to increase Left hand Span and increase the strengh of every of your little fingers. The picking is more difficult on the Right hand thats true but especialy when begin you need to know where the string is placed because it's difficult not to pick the wrong one Yes at this point you need to work 5 times more on your right hand to get the string in line with your left hand. Your 3 notes exercises / method sounds good but I would have to practice on a Tennis ball to get some muscles over my littles fingers in addition to it if I had to leave the CAGED system my teacher is learning me with. But you opened my eyes to speed picking when I would have to get faster i would consider another system with 3 notes out there. Best Regards,
    tommaso.zillio
    Ptalamo: I see your point. In fact it's already planned that I'm going to answer it in one of the next videos of this series (I can't do everything in a single video!) In short: being able to stretch your left hand is a matter of technique, not muscles. Once your position is right, the stretch becomes much easier. In that video I will explain exactly what is the correct position for your left hand, so you will be able to do it too.
    eddievanzant
    Why bother saying what doesn't work instead of what does? This shit is so simple it kills me that so much time is wasted going duh Idk what to do Use the CBAGFEDC system. You just need to know how to play those seven keys in open position. Then you string the shapes together starting at C open position. Then B at 1 A at 3 G at 5 etc. There are ONLY SEVEN SHAPES and no matter what key you're in that will never change. You'll figure out chords modes scale degrees etc. You don't even need to learn the names of the notes, the scale degrees will be so clear in your mind you'll become a wizard without effort. You'll notice the same arpeggio shape will reappear but the other notes of the scale have moved slightly as each chord has different extensions. If your guitar could talk it would tell you it's not that complicated. This is the only real way. You can visualize a pentatonic shape but that shape is only super imposed on these shapes. Every shape has three notes on every string except G. If you can play C, D, E, F, G, and A in open position you already know almost everything. The B shape is the notes of the key of C between frets 1 and 5. That's the only shape you probably need to know. Whether you use caged or three notes per string or blues scales, no matter what these seven shapes are the true guide to the fretboard. You can see the shapes within the shapes. Every shape has three pentatonic shapes within it because each key has three minor pentatonic scales Plus the shapes are all very similar. G is one note different than C etc.
    tommaso.zillio
    You are perfectly right, and in fact you are advocating the same things I do (watch all the video)... except that there still are people who do not use 7 shapes with 3 notes per string and do not know that there are 3 pentatonics per shape, etc. The first step for these people is to know what they need to NOT do. The same way (to make an extreme example) the first thing to know when you are ill is that performing magical rituals will not cure you, and that you have to go to a doctor instead. I do agree that this is very simple and we should not need to spend much time on this. Alas, what it should be and what is is not the same.
    aldo.chircop
    Very well explained. The advantage of having a more symmetrical and consistent layout of notes over all the strings cannot be denied. Easier to learn, remember, visualize and play. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
    aldo.chircop
    Very well explained. The advantage of having a consistent layout of notes on all strings cannot be denied. Easier to learn, remember and apply. Looking forward to the rest of the series!
    j.g.fletcher
    A disadvantage to using three note per string scale shapes is that as you ascend through the scale you creep up the neck. This way you lose the chord yo're outlining as your reference point. For example, if I'm in G major and I'm playing around the E shape (with the root note on the third fret of the E string), using a three note per string shape means that I'm missing the fifth on the B string and the root on the high E. The whole point of the CAGED system is that you can reference scale shapes directly against chord shapes so you have a better understanding of what intervals you're using & what to aim for. Using a three note per string pattern means that you lose these reference points, completely defeating the object. Even if you try to conpensate by starting the pattern a note lower you run into the problem of approaching the chord shape you're outlining from a different angle depending on if you're on the higher or lower strings. Regardless, I don't think the CAGED system militantly promotes only one type of scalar pattern - that would kind of be missing the point. It's just a referencing tool. Using different patterns to approach it doesn't suddenly stop it from being the CAGED system unless you have an extremely rigid way of viewing it. I also find this idea that you have to spend "five times as much time" learning the boxed shapes slightly ludicrous - you have to learn the patterns with your left hand anyway, having the occasional string with only two notes shouldn't even remotely be a problem. It's not something to even think about. When I learn a shape I don't consciously think about what my right hand is doing, it's a subconscious process. Interesting ideas though, I look forward to seeing more.
    foreverMoR
    Great Article and Video Tommaso!! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for the other ones.
    darrylpowis
    Very clear! I appreciate that you are only talking about one point in particular here and I look forward to seeing the next videos!
    carbenez
    Thanks for the work you do Tommaso... Its refreshing to see someone pushing boundaries and looking for the BEST way to do things as opposed to blindly following tradition
    FryingPan9
    I really appreciate this video. I am especially compelled by the evidence of how much easier it is to play scale-based patterns when you know you have 3 notes per string. I was not "raised on CAGED" but I do believe the system I originally learned is not nearly as efficient as this one.
    jure.golobic
    Great video! I never thought about this obvious advantage of 3nps patterns. I'm really looking forward to the next video. Thank you!
    Emmanuel Chan
    CAGED system isn't good. Tommaso Zillio knows what he is talking about. He has the reasons there for you. Be open to logical things!
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    i don't disagree, but when i learned the scale shapes which start with the middle finger on the 6th string for the root and never have stretches or shift hand position more than one fret (picked it up from a Jimmy Bruno jazz instructional video), it helped me to improvise in a less scalar way. i think it's because the right arpeggios are more readily accessible (e.g. if you're on the root, you can easily play with the 7th arpeggio without shifting your hand). or maybe it's just because i spent more time trying to figure out that system, i dunno.
    dominiksprenger
    Spot on Sir! This is pretty much how I see it myself. - There are more shapes with little or no shifting/stretching of your left hand, all of which are easily visible in CAGED ! ... that's one of the basics of the whole thing, from there you can take it anywhere you like ... as simple as getting out of bed in the morning Yet someone here tries to tell us all we're doing it all wrong ?!? Keep playing Mister
    tommaso.zillio
    Visiblenoise: it's probably because you spent more time in figuring out that system (of course I can't be sure from a single comment) The very same arpeggio you mention would work on the 3nps shape that starts from the 7th note of the major scale (i.e. the "locrian" shape). I will discuss arpeggios more in the next video.
    s6k
    It clearly does work in some areas... Play any E shaped bar chord on the guitar.... the next place you can find that chord is a bar D shape, just underneath. Next one is the C shape, then A, then G, E, D - CAGED. So it absolutely can help you to learn where chord shapes will be, I think its misleading to say that it just doesnt work for guitar.
    tommaso.zillio
    In this video I'm talking only about the scale shapes. In the second video of the series I will comment about chords/scale integration, and you will see the difference. The pattern you talk about is true, but there are other ways (more efficient) to see the same thing. Note that I did not say that CAGED does not work period (everything works it you throw enough practice at it), just that it does not work at the same level. The discussion is not if CAGED is right or wrong, but if it's the best way to visualize the fret board.
    TenTonHammer
    You made a great video and I agree with you so don't get me wrong, but the disclaimer in the article reads "I truly believe that [...] the CAGED method simply does not work", and now you say "Note that I did not say that CAGED does not work period"; which is a bit of a contradiction.
    dominiksprenger
    Here is the ORIGINAL ARTICLE on this subject, posted on this site by the author a few years ago : https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/scales/9_reasons_why_the_caged_system_for_guitar_scales_sucks.html And THIS VIDEO has been uploaded to Youtube by the man himself (!) around the same time as forementioned article was posted, and therefore should give a fair representation of the man's musical abilities at the time of writing ... Judge for yourself
    tommaso.zillio
    The original article was posted on Jun 2013. The video is from Jan 2011, that is 2.5 years before... not really "around that time"... Not only that video was posted as playthrough for my students (as clearly indicated in the description...) but at the time I was still using a hybrid CAGED system... and it shows. Maybe you searched my YT channel for the least impressive video? Cute. If you want to post videos made around the time of the original article, here are two, both posted on Sep 2013. Judge for yourself.
    dominiksprenger
    Haha ... changed the description, have you !! Never mind, I've seen and heard enough, thank you very much ! To each his own, but just like the Facebook conversation we had a week or so ago, I still don't and won't get the idea of discouraging people to learn more than one thing/system and then combine everything that helps them. IMO (!!) all your 'arguments' are little more than microscopic nit-pickin', pointing the finger at one little flaw and grossly enlarging that little flaw while completely ignoring any of the real benefits that are clearly present. And all this is done in a seemingly mildmannered yet lecturing derogatory tone, with slight sarcasm yet no humor inbetween the lines ... no real discussion or communication here I'm afraid, as you refuse to discuss any real arguments; everybody here stating that they benefit from CAGED is apparently doing things wrong, doesn't 'get it' and needs to be told so. As others have pointed out allready : had you named your thread/video --- 9 Ways To Improve On Basic CAGED Fretboard Knowledge --- it would be a different matter altogether !! Or even --- Expanding The Limitations/Breaking The Boundaries --- ----- EDIT : And no I didn't go 'Cute!' on your YoutubeChannel, the other videos are most certainly more impressive from a TECHNICAL point of view, no doubt about that (I couldn't do that!) Yet again, as others have allready pointed out ... where's the MUSIC in all of this ?!?! - Where is the music Tommaso ? ... really ...
    tommaso.zillio
    No, I haven't changed the description (but you DID lie by saying that the video was posted at the same time as the article... projecting much?) So, when I go technical, there is no music. If I play Bach, you point to the technique... typical... I thought we were having an honest conversation on FB, but I see now that I was mistaken. I attacked an idea. Like others here, you are attacking me, in the name o that idea. If you think this is justifiable, then we can agree to disagree. If the ad-hominems are the best you can do (and your comment here on my "skills" is exactly that) then you just conceded on the point of this video. Oh, and notice that I could have easily asked "and where is YOUR music, Dominik? Where is your YT channel?"... but I won't. Because I will accept or reject your arguments based on your arguments alone, and I will not attack you (or anyone else) personally, even if you disagree with me.
    dominiksprenger
    OK sorry ... my apologies. I do not mean to 'flame', there's more than enough of that going on on the internet allready, where it is hard to actually communicate. If we were sitting face to face with guitars it would probably be a different matter, and we could actually have a fruitful discussion; but still, human beings tend to stick to their beliefs, and yours are very different to mine ... so be it. I admit it rubbed me the wrong way, and I still think with another more positive name the thread would look very different, a lot more upbeat; and while it is certainly legitimate to be provocative (in my opinion) to initiate a discussion, it also inevitably leads to people being offended - hence the attacks, despite the 'disclaimer' at the beginning of the video. But alas ... do what you do, and have a nice day. Honestly PS I do have a Youtube channel, it should be easy to find
    NickFilipoff
    Fantastic explanation Tommaso! Hopefully people are rational enough to make the right choice on which system to use
    NytePhantom
    Thanks for the video and explanation. CAGED never made any sense to me while 3nps was much easier to learn, made a lot more sense, and allowed me to navigate and understand the fretboard much quicker. Looking forward to your upcoming videos on the subject.
    rkerkdyk
    You state your points clear and understandable. It's clear to see that CAGED suffers from inconsistencies. I've enjoyed your video. As a bonus I found it quite funny that you anticipated the methods of your antagonists in this thread.
    theogonia777
    So you're complaining about not picking the same number of notes on each string basically? First of all, how often do you really play scales, two octaves up or down, like that in actual musical context? A lot of scale playing requires sequencing that means you are already playing more than 3 notes in a row on some strings, including repeated notes, and 1 or 2 strings on other notes. Second, even when playing scales straight up and down, is it really that big of a deal? Third, learn different scale shapes isn't a mutually exclusive thing. It isn't an "either or" and implying it is is creating a false dichotomy. You can learn to play scales in a ton of different shapes and different shapes have their advantage, especially in real world situations (again, not running up and down scales for practice but actual scale sequencing). Having all the options at your disposal is much better than tossing away some options because they might not be consistent in practice situations.
    tommaso.zillio
    Far from me to complain when I have a better alternative I'm glad you ask these questions because it allows me to give you an answer: 1. Sequencing is MUCH easier if there are the same number of notes per string and all the patterns are the same. In 3nps I can learn a sequence in one pattern, and I automatically know it in any other pattern. In CAGED I have to relearn it 5 times because the picking is different. Just try it. 2. If a system is not even good to play scales up and down, which is the most basic of things, that's a red flag already. See the part of the video where I talk about sequencing and you see that the issue is NOT about straight scales. 3. Sure you COULD learn scales in all kind of position positions. But why you SHOULD? (what CAGED can do that 3nps can't?) What happens in practice is that 99% of players learn one set of scales and stick to it because they are more familiar with it. In one of the next videos of the series I will go in depth on that.
    Jace Bastian
    Regarding your Point 1 here: I agree 1000% When I learn scale sequences, (using 3nps), after I get the initial pattern down in about 20 seconds, I AUTOMATICALLY can apply that pattern to ALL my other scales, not just the one I learned it on. (In fact, I usually have to slow myself down when practicing them, because my mind has it down faster than my fingers do! )
    ha_asgag
    Try playing "Star Spangled Banner, For the Love of God" or any other melody on a 3-note per string shape or CAGED shape and it might feel awkward or the phrasing might not be appropriate sometimes because the frethand needs FREEDOM when reaching out for notes and playing actual melodies. You may find plenty of unisons on the guitar and textbook scale patterns and arpeggio shapes are just a means to mastering the entire fretboard as a whole for a particular tuning (EADGBE, DADGBE, DADGBD etc.)
    Jere Toikka
    1. Tommaso explained that the same problem arises when playing licks or scale sequences, since the patterns you play through are not consistent. Start at 10:48 in the video. 2. It is a big deal if you don't want to spend 5 times the time and effort for your right hand. Again explained in the video. 3. If you had watched the video carefully, you would know that Tommaso will adress the topic of multiple systems vs. one system in a future video
    Sam-Russell
    First: I play a lot of music that involves scales going up and down... and seeing them fit into 3nps helped me in two big ways: 1. Memorising - I could "chunk" the music a lot, lot faster because I could relate sections of music to 3nps patterns. 2. Playing it - my technique was already largely in place and all I had to work on was the transitions between chunks. Figuring out and perfecting picking direction was easy thanks to applying 3nps. Second: Only if your time is worthless. Third: Why would I want to spend my time testing dozens of systems? I want to find an expert, do what they say, and get the results.
    heavywinter1123
    Why do you make it seem like he is bitching and complaining? He is just pointing things out the way he see's it. To people who find the system needlessly complicated I guess it is "that big a deal"
    Goncalo Crespo
    Hi Dr. Zillio, I loved this article and cannot wait for the coming instalments. I like and agree with the effectiveness of the playing motions, your take on this is really helpful and I believe will benefit many guitar players out there to just break out with their playing. Well done!
    harrypeggio
    'Ah, but do you not see the errors of your way my misguided sheep !?!' https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/condescending The Elite Inner Cult Of Guitar Healers ... Tom Hess & His Minions strike again ! You know NOTHING, but WE CAN HELP YOU ... this clan is to the guitar world what SCIENTOLOGY is to humanity !
    carias-sanche1
    very interesting. Im in the middle of learning the CAGED system. still seems very helpful as it will give a guitarist a sense of where they are on the fret board visually. Its nice to learn the caged system so you can play different sounding chords instead of your typical shapes. Its nice to know caged and be able to play a different sounding "G" chord then the guitarist next to you. as for scales though, Thank you I will try some different systems so i dont get caged in with bad habits
    tommaso.zillio
    carias, as I will explain in the next video, chord visualization is easy (i fact easier) in the 3nps system too
    gianni767
    Ok. I spent about an hour and a half reading the original thread and i didn't even get through half of it. Since i don't feel like reading through this entire library can someone please tell me what to learn. Im a guitar player who is in-between beginner and intermediate. I know about 10 songs. I have rhythm and can improvise a little bit. I DO NOT understand what I'm playing on the guitar. i do it all based off of memory. I want to be able to look at another guitar player and know what key he is playing in so i can either solo or play another chord with him. I want to learn how to be able to solo with another player. I want to learn scales. I want to understand the fret board in terms of notes. I don't want to sit down and ready music theory per-say but I'm sure it is a part of it. If there is a system that is fun, easy to understand that will help my playing for the love of god WHAT IS IT?????
    eddievanzant
    Read either of my other posts. Just learn how to play the seven natural keys in open position. Then string them together. It's easy as fuck
    Tim_Rock
    Allright, thanks for the response! I'm not overly conserned whether I learn things the fastest way possible, but if it comes to pass the legacy and trying to help someone else, I'd love to know the best, or atleast good way to teach scales. I'll learn 3nps.
    Jule9
    I guess you could say the CAGED system cages you.
    ha_asgag
    Freedom exists when there are no boundaries and restrictions and there are an infinite number of ways to traverse the fretboard and make music at the same time.
    tommaso.zillio
    ... And surprisingly enough, people who say that about the infinite way of traversing the fretboard usually are CAGED players... No, there are only a handful of basic fretboard motions. Their combinations are many but not infinite. A consistent, regular system allows you to study them. A non-consistent system hides this simplicity from you.
    Tim_Rock
    I've been working my CAGED for some time now. Now I need to learn both the fu..ers. In five years I'll have an oppinion of my own. Btw... I like the idea of consistent picking and I'm very interested to hear what you have to say about learning chords and arpeggios with 3nps, but I'm still just wondering does CAGED's inconsistent pattern prepare you more on the real musical situations, where your phrases can be expected to be everything but consistent 3 notes per string?
    DanMayhew
    Learning 3NPS is an easier way to learn your scales, to visualise them, to make it easier to internalise them for the muscle memory, to be able to apply many different sequences easily and effortlessly because you have the same number of notes on each string. In application you will not always be playing 3NPS (that's why we practice technique) but you use to it to fast track how quickly you're able to visualise and learn the whole fretboard for a particular scale. This is what Tommaso is on about here, the fact that when you learn the CAGED way of learning scales, it's going to take you 5x longer because your picking hand has to get used to 5 different muscle memory patterns instead of 1. For example, with some scales now I'm at the stage where I don't see them as individual positions, I just see it as one big scale across the whole neck so I'm able to do 3NPS runs, move in and out of different positions freely, integrate arpeggios within the 3NPS patterns etc... Of course you may be thinking "Well you can do this with CAGED" and the answer would be yes, you can, but the road to mastering guitar or reaching whatever goals you have is much, much longer down the CAGED route than it is with a system like 3NPS. The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want to have to go through much more frustration, put in way more time out of your life that you're never going to get back, invest much more money in lessons (because it will take you longer to get to the same end result), money which you could spend on other things you want in life, just to be able to play guitar how you want?
    jerrykramskoy
    Hi Tommaso. You rightly mention there are a taxonomy of systems called CAGED, but you don't state which one you are criticising. It would help if you did this ... because as you say, there is quite a bit of disagreement out there on what CAGED is meant to convey. Totally agree on the consistent picking pattern with 3 nps. I agree that the up and down points vary when you have scale patterns other than 3 nps. But if a player uses alternate picking, then that is still a consistent picking approach, and the hand motion doesn't change. (I actually don't like alternate picking). So, I'm not sure you can use mechanical consistency of the picking hand as an argument. Ditto if someone uses economy picking. For a beginner getting into scales, then without having done any other form of picking, then 3 nps does offer less to think about for the picking hand. But ... hang one, there's a different point here,so I'll wait for the appropriate video. Nonetheless ... very cool that you are debating this.
    tommaso.zillio
    In this video I am arguing against all forms of CAGED with patterns that do not have a consistent number of notes per string. If you think the motion is consistent, then try this. Grab a scale sequence, and play it in all shapes. Count the notes. Once you are at the 18th note, write down on what string you are and the direction of the picking motion. If it's the same for all patterns, you have a consistent system. If either string or directions are different for at least one pattern, then the right hand is NOT making the same motions, so it's not consistent. (BTW I don't like alternate either, but the point I make is independent of the picking strategy - alternate, economy, directional)
    jerrykramskoy
    Sure, the result will not always be an upstroke or a downstroke, but to an alternate picker that doesn't affect the thought going into the hand motion. (S)he isn't going to be worried because the picking hand is always alternating. Hence consistent in that regard. I think where the real benefits come with 3nps, is when economy picking is coupled with it, as then there is the minimum of motion.
    tommaso.zillio
    We are using "consistent" in two different meaning. You mean "consistent" in the sense of picking scheme. In your sense the scale patterns are irrelevant. I use "consistent" in the sense of same mechanical motion. Even if for an alternate picker the motions are up/down all the time, he WILL have to change strings at DIFFERENT points using the CAGED system, giving a completely different result in term of inside/outside picking for that pattern. Multiply this for 5 patterns and all the sequences that one can learn, and this seemingly trivial difference now it's a major part of your practice time.
    tommaso.zillio
    BTW Jerry, thank you for discussing this in a civil way. Even if we disagree (so far) you made some good points.
    Jere Toikka
    To make a minor correction: The up and down points are consistent whenever you have X nps. so 2nps or 4nps (and in theory 6 or 10nps too) also gives consistency. This could be useful for example in playing pentatonics or if you want to traverse up and down the neck while playing scales etc.
    theblazinasian
    I read the article, and got 5 minutes into the video, and I still have no idea what the CAGED system even is. I clicked on the article because I'd never heard of it, so I don't think it's unreasonable to expect readers/viewers to be unknowledgeable about the subject. Just a bit of constructive criticism - Maybe do without the long-winded disclaimer about rational debate (I would have thought that was a given) and get to the actual content. If I were making an argument for or against something, I would begin with at least a short summary of what it is.
    Jace Bastian
    You're not missing much. I learned a bit of it the other day, just to see for myself the differences between CAGED and 3nps, (which I use), and had to learn 5 different patterns...Just for the Major scale! Which means I would have had to learn 35 different patterns to know all the modes all over the fretboard... As opposed to 3nps where you only have to learn 7.
    paulhudginsgt
    This is a bad approach to thinking in terms of scales with CAGED. Since their is repetition in the patterns, using CAGED 5 chord shapes yield you every major scale. If you simply know where the 3rd in those shapes lie then those same shapes yield you the minor chords. But even if you don't know where the 3rd lies. 4 more shapes yields you all of the Major and minor shapes. Those 9 shapes yield all of the modes in every key. If you know those shapes which almost every guitar player learns when they are first starting, then simply putting them together yields you the entire fret-board. In other words the shapes in D Dorian are the same as C Major. The shapes in A Lydian are the same as G Major. Your just transposing those same shapes on the fret-board and changing the root. To carry out the fallacy in this logic further it would be the same as suggesting 3NPS required 49 patterns because there are 7 positions and 7 modes. But of course that is wrong because the positions yield you the modes automatically. It works the same way in the CAGED system.
    tommaso.zillio
    Paul is correct here. In fact in most versions of CAGED you need 5 patterns for all the major scale modes. My point in this article is that the set of pattern is not consistent (hence the longer time needed to master them), not that the number of patterns is higher. I still don't like CAGED, but I don't want to spread misinformation on what CAGED actually is.
    Zirk208
    I'm in the same boat. A lot of passion on display here, for something I know nothign about.
    replica_
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    replica_ · May 13, 2016 01:48 PM
    tommaso.zillio
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    Author tommaso.zillio · May 13, 2016 02:52 PM
    FryingPan9
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    FryingPan9 · May 15, 2016 08:53 PM
    PRSguitars87
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    PRSguitars87 · May 16, 2016 02:56 AM
    tommaso.zillio
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    Author tommaso.zillio · May 16, 2016 04:26 PM
    theogonia777
    Honestly it's absolutely pathetic for a guy to post a subjective and biased article and then get his little minions (probably his students) to jump on anybody that disagrees without even trying to consider other people's opinions. It's not just the lack of consideration for other viewpoints but in fact a vehement denial that alternate methods could possibly have value ever. That's some real Tom Hess shit right there (not surprising from a Tom Hess affiliate). And that's not a good thing.
    tommaso.zillio
    If you could see how well some of these people posting can play... well.. I WISH they were my students
    theogonia777
    And if they play so well, surely they wouldn't be tripped up my something as simple as not playing three notes on each string. If a player can't handle playing one or two or four occasionally in their scale shapes, how well can they really play? It really shouldn't matter if you really know the fretboard and are a competent alternate picker.
    tommaso.zillio
    Who said they CAN'T? Of course they can, and I can too. But when the easy thing is available, why do the difficult if the results are not different? See how your reasoning works if I change the object: "And if they play so well, surely they wouldn't be tripped up by something as simple as not using the index finger. If a player can't handle playing only three fingers, how well can they really play? It really shouldn't matter if you really know the fretboard and are a competent alternate picker" See how absurd it is? Whenever I play I prepare for all cases, but I also want all the advantages I can take. Not having a consistent system is just crippling your playing on purpose.
    theogonia777
    Your analogy is invalid.
    tommaso.zillio
    Just saying it's wrong does not make it so. Feel free to explain WHY you think it's wrong.
    theogonia777
    Because losing the use of a finger, which is a fairly necessary part of playing guitar, just for a challenge is completely unrelated to ignoring scale shapes because they are not the easiest. There is no legitimate way the two things can be considered analogous.
    tommaso.zillio
    Again, who has said that these people are ignoring any situations where the number of string is not perfectly regular? One thing is to make the system as coherent as possible, a completely different one is to shy away from difficulty. I advocate the first, not the latter. And neither I not many others here would like to use a system like CAGED that is crippled from the start and make it harder to play even simple things. If you want to use CAGED, use it at your own risk, but it's YOO "jumping on other people's opinion" with your comments... Note BTW, that 3NPS is but one example. There ARE many other methods... and they all work better than CAGED. I never said that there is only one method (watch the video again to confirm it)
    ha_asgag
    You'll find CAGED shapes with 3 notes per string in them too. Why put more weight on pure visual symmetry and consistent picking direction instead of focusing on musical content in the early stages of a beginners development? BTW: Beware of misinformation on the internet. Who's responsible?