How to Play Barre Chords: CAGED System | Hub Guitar

How to Play Barre Chords: CAGED System

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The time is here to dig into some more advanced barre chords.

If you know a few barre chords already, you probably know that open chords can often be played as barre chords. For instance the open A major can turn into a barre chord and become B major.

But this concept goes a bit further. There's actually an easy way to play barre chords up and down the neck. It's called the "CAGED" system. There are actually some in depth explanations of this system and its uses but I don't recommend you get too deep into it. It is, however, a handy way to memorize how the chords go up the guitar neck.

First, we'll play the chords that the CAGED system stands for: C, A, G, E, D. Now we'll assemble them all as C major chords, which means the first one will be the open chord, and the rest will be barre chords.

So we've got an acronym that helps you remember the order of barre chords going up and down the neck. You can also use this to work out how to play chord progressions in a single position. Here's an example using I-Vi-IV-V in C.

So try it out, and decide for yourself if this method is useful for you. At any rate, you should learn to play the C, A, G E and D major chords as barre chords.


Approaching Barre Chords

Barre chords (sometimes incorrectly written as “bar” chords) are essential if you want to get to the advanced level of guitar playing. That’s because they allow you to re-use any chord pattern in many different places.

The CAGED system is a unique method for visualizing the chords along the guitar neck.

If someone says: “Play a C chord.”, even an advanced player who knows hundreds of C chords is likely to play open C when asked. That’s because it’s the first “C” chord most players ever learn, so it’s easily remembered.

What if you wanted to play a “C” chord following another chord at position VIIRefers to the position of the hand at the fret VII, and notes that can be played while the hand is in this area.? Do you want to jump all the way down to the low register, or would you rather continue playing in the same area?

The CAGED system is a method of remembering how to play the same chord in multiple places up and down the neck. While it doesn’t help you understand chords very deeply, it is a useful bridge between the open chords and the barre chords. This technique can help you to discover alternative ways of voicing your chords, and can also be useful in transposing songs.

Let’s return to your open “C” chord. The CAGED system is a mnemonicA mnemonic is a technique that aids the memory. way to remember that the next-highest “C” chord will have the same shape as the open “A” chord. After that, it will appear again with an open G shape, an E shape and finally a D shape before it returns to its original shape.

Let’s play them all.

First, we’ll play the familiar Open C chord. Then we’ll shift the same chord to the next shape, making sure that the root is still “C”. In this way we can play five different C chords.

Warning: A common stumbling block is to be unable to play some of these chords. That’s OK! They’re not always practical to play. And some of them are most often played in partial form.

C Shape

C Shape chord diagram

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A Shape

A Shape chord diagram

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G Shape

G Shape chord diagram

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E Shape

E Shape chord diagram

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D Shape

D Shape chord diagram

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Key Tasks

  1. Play all the CAGED chords in C major, as shown.
  2. Change the first chord to E major and repeat.
  3. Try changing all of the chords to minor chords.

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