Deciphering The CAGED System Part 3 Dominant Chords

In part 3 of the series looking at the CAGED system we will learn how to play dominant 7 chords across the fret-board.

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Deciphering The CAGED System Part 3 Dominant Chords

In part 3 of the series looking at the CAGED system we will learn how to play dominant 7 chords across the fret-board.

the word CAGED is taken from the 5 open chords C, A, G, E, & D that you will have learned to play as a beginner. These for the template that we will use to play the chord shapes across the fret board. It is the building block for guitars in standard tuning. The CAGED system is an essential method in learning the entire fret board.

Previously we looked at the Major & minor chord triads of C the notes for the Major triad being C E G which are the Root, Major 3rd and the 5th. The minor triad was built using Root, minor 3rd, and the 5th so the notes for a Cm triad are C Eb G.

For the Dominant 7 chord we introduce a extra note to a major triad. This note is the b7. so the chord now is voiced. the chord is now called a tetrad

C E G Bb Root, Major 3rd, Perfect 5th, Flat 7th.

Let’s start by looking at the key "C" root note position on the fret-board that we will use to play the five chord shapes. In the diagram below we can see the first "C" note closest to the open strings is the C on the A string. This same note can next be found as we move up the fret-board on the 8th fret of the Low E string. We then also have the next Octave of the "C" note on the 10th fret of the D string.

It is important that we learn the distances between these notes and the correct order in which they appear on the fret-board.

Let's first remind ourselves of the locations of the C notes that we will be using in the CAGED system

Now we will build chord shapes from these root notes position using the C7 tetrad. Let's have a look first at C7 built from the C root note on the A string.

This is a fairly easy chord to play. do note that when you use this chord shape higher up the fret board you not play both E strings these must be muted apart from E7 were you can include the 2 E strings if you wish.

Now let's look at the A shape

Again we see a standard bar chord shape that can be moved very easily up and down the fret-board. Again as previously discussed these two shapes share the same root note on the A string.

Next up is the G shape.

I will include two versions of this chord shape as some players might find the first shape quite a challenge to play. The first example is the complete chord with the flat 7 being added on the high E string.

In this version we are simplifying the chord shape and still using at the notes to form the C7 chord. Of course we are no longer using the root note of C on the low E string so i can be harder to locate the chord when playing in a progression but with practice you will be able to use this shape proficiently.


Now let's look at the E shape.

As usual the E shape looks more user friendly and some of you have probably been using this shape to play a dominant chord in your song progressions.

Finally let’s look at the D shape.

Note that the D shape uses the root note of C that is on the D string. This shape is possibly the easiest of all the D shapes to play.

So now over the series of the 3 lessons we have covered both the Major, minor, & Dominant chord shapes. Now you should practice using these chord shapes over very simple and easy to play progressions.

You have Five possible solutions to each chord so look at the progression and select the shapes that offer the least movement across the fret-board. In future lessons we will look at various solution and how to select the best options. Please do remember there isn't really a wrong answer when you select a chord shape as long as it’s the correct chord.

Please watch the video where i show you how to play the chord shapes in more detail.

YouTube preview picture


To watch the previous lessons please click on the relevant links

Part 1 Major Chords

Part 2 Minor Chords

Geoff Sinker is a professional Online Guitar Teacher Check out his website for more lessons

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