CAGED Part Five -Mastery Of The Neck Through Studying Flat Keys

Video: Introduction To Lesson 16

The video below will be useful to prepare yourself for lesson 16 where we will transpose the 5 chord shapes associated with the CAGED system to the FLAT KEYS. This is normally where students have trouble with the 5 sha[pes so use theis video as a way to test yourself and to make you sure you understan the material in this lesson.

Mastering The CAGED System By Transposing To All 12 Keys

In my experiences with teaching and studying the guitar I have noticed that the best players and students all share one common quality: quite simply they do the things that the other guy, the average guy, won’t do. One of those things is learning five versions of every major chord in every key. Mastery of this simple concept gives you a fluidity and familiarity with the guitar neck that makes playing a breeze and keeps your mind full of fresh ideas, like the ones for spicing up basic progressions that I presented earlier in this course. At this point it should be obvious that I feel the circle of fifths is a great practicing tool, and a great way to make sure you’re touching all the bases. In this lesson we will finish up our study of major chords by tackling the remainder of keys that have flatted notes in their key signatures.


Since the method of practicing that I recommend should be quite clear to you at this point do your best to played through before diagrams you see below in time and cleanly, as I have demonstrated in the video portions of the four preceding lessons. Of course make sure all chords completely sound out and ring clearly.

The 5 Shapes Of E Flat Major

Below is the below is the CAGED exercise in the key of E flat major. Although E flat itself is not exactly a very common key for guitar music, and E flat chord will pop up again and again. Also you may be called upon to transpose a song so it’s a good idea to make sure you are very familiar with the more uncommon keys.


The 5 Shapes Of A Flat Major

Next, do the drill in the key of A flat major just as you have been instructed to and videos which accompany my previous lessons. This exercise falls into the category of things most of the other guys learning to play the guitar simply won’t do.


The 5 Shapes Of D Flat Major

I would certainly classify the key of D flat major as a remote key, especially for someone who plays the guitar. However this key does occupy quite a special place in the world of music: great composers such as Hector Berlioz labeled the key as majestic and Sergei Rachmaninoff felt it was the most romantically flavored of all the major keys. In operatic circles the key of D flat major has often been called the “dolce” or the sweet key. If you play piano, the D flat major scale corresponds quite nicely to the black keys on the keyboard. In your quest to become an excellent guitarist, lead no stone unturned.


The 5 Shapes Of G Flat Major

Finally, we have completed our study of major chords in all 12 keys using the CAGED system. Below you see the five shapes of a G flat major chord. At first glance it may seem like useless knowledge but if you’re going to play jazz music, or expect to find yourself in professional reading situations (e.g. studio, theater, show bands) of any kind you had better know your G flat chords as well as you know easier ones. Although G flat major could also be considered a remote key, it is quite a popular key for piano compositions and the occasional orchestration.


Video Lesson

Now that you have a chance to review the 5 shapes in all the FLAT keys watch the video below for additional exercises and greater insight to the CAGED system.

Power Cycling Through The Flat Keys

Finally, we have arrived at our final exercise dealing with major chords as they relate to the CAGED system. As I have said before this exercise, which I have called power cycling, is one of my favorite teaching devices because it really teaches you to think on your feet, even though power cycling is kind of the brainteaser you will find that knowing your chords, and the CAGED system as well as you know your own telephone number will serve you extraordinarily well in a variety of circumstances, far too many for me to go into here but you just have to take my word for it. Knowing your chords well enough to effortlessly do all of my power cycling exercises in this course will give you enough strength and reasoning power to function in virtually any situation.Of course, I have taken a logical and systematic approach to the CAGED system.

  • The first exercise begins with a C type of C major chord and cycles through the flat keys.
  • The second exercise begins with an A type of C major chord and cycles through the flat keys.
  • The third exercise begins with a G type of C major chord and cycles through the flat keys.
  • The fourth exercise begins with an E type of C major chord and cycles through the flat keys.
  • The fifthe exercise begins with a D type of C major chord and cycles through the flat keys.

When we have played the cycle of flat keys in every position we have arrived at fret 12th which means all the chord patterns in this exercise repeat themselves one octave higher. To use these chords in the 12th position strictly as rhythm guitar chords is not exactly common practice because the fingerings are too uncomfortable and the high pitch of chords and that register doesn’t usually work in a rhythm guitar setting. However, bits of chords and arpeggios based on these chord forms can be very useful and add great depth to rhythm parts when you are playing with another guitarist. These little shapes can also be your secret weapon for coming up with great melodic leads, fills, guitar hooks and melodies.


Power Cycling Beginning With A C Type Of C Major Chord

Below you see the first exercise in this series of practicing and mastering chords in the CAGED system through transposition. The first chord in series is good old C major and of course we will begin with a C type. As we work backwards around the cycle of fifths, which could now rightly be called the cycle of fourths, we have arrived at F major. That F major chord is an E type, based on the open position E form also just as the C chord to the left of that F major chord was the first of the five chords in the key of C according to the CAGED system, the F chord is the first of the five chords in the CAGED system as applied to the key of F. Each one of the chords in this particular exercise is the first chord, the lowest pitched chord possible, in their respective keys when discussing the five chords associated with the CAGED system or as I like to call it five position thinking.For the sake of completeness these chords have been transposed one octave higher in pitch. These higher chords are generally not thought of as rhythm guitar chords but are very useful to you in your pursuit of creating great arrangements leads parts and guitar hooks.

Power Cycling Beginning With The A Type Of C Major Chord

Apply the same type of thinking to the exercise below as you did in the previous exercise. You will be working backwards from the cycle of fifths, or root motion by fourths. The first chord in the series is C on fret three. This root 5 C is the second chord in the series of five chords associated with the CAGED system. All of the chords to follow are the second in a series of five chords in their respective keys. If these exercises become confusing and frustrating simply slow down and return to the top of the lesson and play the five chords of each key in order, if that doesn’t do the trick return to the previous lesson and review the keys of F and B flat.

Power Cycling Beginning With A G Type Of C Major Chord

As you approach the third exercise on this page the methodology behind these exercises should be apparent. Each one of the chords in this exercise is the third chord in the series of five chords associated with the CAGED system in their respective keys. This exercise can also be a good barometer to determine how well you know CAGED system: you should be able to play these exercises effortlessly and smoothly before you consider yourself as being finished with them. This is not to say very easy in fact they are quite difficult.

Power Cycling Beginning With An E Type Of C Major Chord
Since this exercise begins with what is arguably the most common and well use of all bar chords, a root six major type you will want to pay special attention here. Again each one of these chords occupies the number four spot in the series of five chords associated with the CAGED system in their respective keys.

Power Cycling Beginning With A D Type Of C Major Chord

The fifth and final exercise is below and as with all the previous examples your goal is to play these chords smoothly, cleanly, clearly and with a good sense of tempo. Make sure you are in perfect time in harmony with the recordings in this page and remember to visualize each chord is you play making a mental note of the location of the root note as indicated by the red buttons. Of course, each one of these chords is the fifth chord in the series of five chords associated with the CAGED system in their respective keys.



“My first experience with the guitar was taking lessons from Karl Aranjo as a high school student. His lessons were more than just a collection of tips and riffs: they were a method. As I look through, I get to take a trip back through those lessons and am reminded about I loved about them. His strong focus on the fundamentals quickly draws a connection between general music theory and the particulars of how that theory can be applied to the guitar, even allowing us as guitarists to use our instrument as an abacus-like tool to enhance our musical insight. In high school, Karl’s lessons got me up to speed to jam with my friends and in the school band almost immediately. In the almost 20 years since I left high school and had my last lesson with Karl, the things he taught me have continued to serve me well; I’ve played almost continuously in a variety of styles (jazz, rock, funk, folk), both as a hobby and as a part-time professional (currently playing with San Francisco’s Smash-Up Derby). If I hadn’t grown up in the same town as where Karl taught, I might have missed out on a lifetime of fun playing the guitar. With, wherever you are, you can benefit from the same quality instruction that I had!

-Grahm Ruby

“Mr. Karl Aranjo is one great teacher to work with. When working with him, he is very flexible, and will teach you all the basics and fundamentals you will need while learning how to play the guitar. From learning basic chords to crazy licks and solo’s. You will become an expert in no time and looking like a professional guitar player. In my experience, I learned to master chord progressions much easier and understand it in a better perspective. In my music career/hobby, it has given me nothing but success to play in a band as a front man/rhythm guitarist, compose my own type of music, and as well as songs that I really wanted to learn how to play on the guitar. Learning through Karl Aranjo was a great experience and has helped me understand the guitar a lot easier, I would not have wanted this learning experience any other way.”

-Julius Isaac

“I had the pleasure of being a guitar student of Karl’s for several years. Karl advanced my playing ability a great deal very quickly by giving me a perfect combination of guitar technique, theory and assigning songs that motivated me to continue learning. I highly recommend Karl for all level of guitar players no matter if you are a beginner or advanced.”

-Tom Hunt

”Karl Aranjo is a great and experienced teacher with an extensive knowledge of guitar playing and theory. His thorough online course, covers the whole spectrum from the first time beginner to advanced.”

Blake Aaron- Internationally Known Recording Artist

”Karl helped me dive into the blues when I was first starting out, and learning how to improvise opened up many doors for me on guitar. He has a vast knowledge ranging many musical styles, and i would recommend him to anyone trying to learn the instrument!”

Eric Cannata Young The Giant