Category Archives: CAGED chord system

Power chords!

Hi there,

For those who like to rock out there , power chords are great fun to learn and are used in millions of songs.

The essential shapes are below with root notes on the E and A strings. There are other shapes but these 2 are the most essential.

Power chords technically only have 2 notes , a root note + a Perfect 5th (which is 3 1/2 tones above the root) . If you were looking at some tabs these will be stated as A5, B5 etc.

Here a 2 examples of an F5 power with the root note on both the E and A strings.


When you are composing or learning songs you can choose between the 2 pitches of these chords.

To find out what power chords work best with other power chords you just simply use your usual major + minor formulas to get the notes then make them all power (5th) chords (apart from the 7th chord which is a Diminished 5th power chord)


TTSTTTS for the major scale – so G major would be  G5, A5, B5, C5, D5, E5, F#5 (b5)

1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7 for the natural minor scale so G minor would be G5, A5, Bb5, C5, D5, Eb5, F5

So a power chord progression in G major could be G5, D5, E5 + C5 and one in G minor could be G5, Bb5, C5 + Eb5

Hope you’ve found this blog useful

You can find other excellent free tips via the Js Music School twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks



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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in CAGED chord system


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Barre chords (A and E shape)

Hi There,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far.

In previous blogs I’ve mentioned how chords and scales link together and also a bit on the CAGED chord system.

Now we’ll look at how to write a song just playing barre chords to get you used to moving around the neck in different shapes.

We’ll just be concentrating on A and E shape Major and Minor chords.

So A and E shape Major chords would look like this in open and barre form:

Here i’ve displayed moving the open A major chord up to a B major Barre shape and an open E major chord to a G major barre shape.

Here’s what the Am and Em open shapes look like when moved up the neck:

Here i’ve displayed moving the open A minor chord up to a B minor Barre shape and an open E minor chord to a G minor barre shape.

Again there are 12 keys in music so you can play any of these barre shapes in 12 different keys.

Now using your major scale TTSTTTS rule we can write a song and play it just using barre shapes

Let’s do a song in A major

Using your TTSTTTS rule the notes would be A,B,C#,D,E,F# and G#

Using your harmonising rule (major,minor,minor,major,major,minor, diminished)

the chords would be A, Bm, C#m, D, E , F#m and G#dim

From those chords let’s take A, C#m, F#m D and E using the A and E shapes.

This is what it could look like:

If you play these together say 2 bars on each chord with one of my strumming patterns in previous blogs you’ll find they’ll sound nice togther.

Plus it’s really good practice to switch between various barre chord shapes with root notes on different strings.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful

You can find other useful tips @jsmusicschool on twitter.

Many thanks for reading


James Schofield

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in CAGED chord system


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Suspended chords (sus 2 and sus 4)

Hi There,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far and hope you’ve found them useful in your quest to be a guitar god.

We’ve talked about the CAGED system before and a few different types of chords.

You’ll often see tabs and sheet music have chords like Asus4 or Esus2 in them.

Firstly they are called Suspended (sus) for short due to their being no ‘3rd’ interval in them.

Your major chords all contain a root, a major third and a perfect fifth, or 1,3,5 for short

A major 3rd is 2 tones in size, a perfect 5th is 3 and a half tones in size.

Your minor chords all contain a root, a minor third and a perfect fifth, or 1,b3,5 for short.

A minor third is 1 1/2  tones in size

So for example an E major chord has the notes E G# and B, an Em chord has E G and B

What a suspended chord does is remove the note that defines a major or minor chord and creates harmonic tension (or suspension) by replacing it with either a perfect 4th or Major 2nd interval.

A perfect 4th is 2 and a half tones in size and a Major 2nd is 1 tone in size.

So an Esus4 now has the notes E, A and B while an Esus2 has the notes E,F# and B

These can create some awesome sounds and can really spice up your chord progressions.

A good way of practicing these is by cycling through between your major and suspended chords. For example Amajor, then A sus4 and then A sus2 as in the below picture.

With your sus chords you can open up a load more options for your songs.

In the next blogs we can look at songs that utilize these chords really well, Message in a bottle by the Police and Common People by Pulp

Thanks for reading


You can find other tips if you follow me @jsmusicschool on twitter

Many thanks


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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in CAGED chord system


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Technical development: The CAGED system Pt. 2 – Major 7th chords

Hi there, In the first blog on the CAGED system we talked about how you can move your basic open major chords up the neck to produce 60 different voicings of the same chord. You can now apply the same process to your minor chords and also your extended 7th chords. This will give you a huge wealth of different options when playing, plus when wanting to work out your favorite bands songs, you’ll be able to work out what chords they’re playing much easier. There are 3 main types of 7th chords that tend to be used the most in my experience. These are Major 7, Minor 7 and Dominant 7 (7) chords Let’s take the Major 7 chords as an example. So the open caged shapes are as follows: So what you can do now is move the shapes up the neck by ‘barring’ what would have been some of your open strings. Like with your Major chords you have to change your fingering around to do this. So using these 5 shapes you can now play the same chord in 5 different positions down the neck, giving you a wide range of options Let’s take B maj7 for example – below you can see how to play B major 7 in all 5 shapes: When you are playing and writing songs, you’ll now have so many more options and voicings by using this system. Have a go at now doing Major7, Minor 7 and Dominant 7 chords in all 5 shapes in all 12 keys. Once you’ve done that you’ll have essentially 240 different voicings to your repetoire! Thanks for reading! rock n roll James

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in CAGED chord system


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Technical development: CAGED chord system Pt.1

Hi There,

In one of my earlier blogs I stated that at Jsmusicschool the 5 essential cornerstones of learning guitar are:

1. Technical

2. Theory

3. Performance

4. Improvisation

5. Aural Perception

In the first Technical blog, it was explained how you can integrate a good picking technique and warm up exercise into your daily practice sessions.

Now it’s time for one of the most important parts of becoming an accomplished guitarist.

The CAGED system is a way of integrating all your scales, chords and arpeggios together in a way that’s holistic and organised.

In simple terms there are 5 key chord shapes, C, A, G, E and D.

These 5 shapes allow you to play any type of chord in 5 different positions on the neck.

This in turn will provide you with a wealth of options when playing and writing songs.

Let’s take Major chords as an example.

What you can do is take your common C,A,G,E and D major open chords and learn how to move them up the neck to create 60 chords in total.

C major has an open G (3rd) and an open High E (1st) string when you play it.

  • The correct way to finger the open chord is by using your 3rd, 2nd and 1st fingers.
  • Now, free up your first finger by playing it with your 4th,3rd and 2nd fingers
  • This means you can ‘barre’ the G and E strings with your first finger when you move the chord up the neck
  • -From the photo below you can see that the C major chord can be moved up 2 frets so that the root note is on the 5th fret A string. This is one of your common ‘barre chords’
  • As you can see from the picture you can play C major in 5 different shapes across the neck, all with different tonal qualities for different uses.

  • Have a look at the other picture showing how to play F#major in the CAGED shapes
  • There are 12 keys in music so 5×12 is 60 chords!

This can then be applied to all your other types of chords , Minor, Major 7, Minor7, Dominant 7 etc.

Thanks for reading


You can find me at @jsmusicschool on twitter for regular free tips.


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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in CAGED chord system


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