Our guitar gym lessons are all about learning and improving together. In the same way you would put a fitness video on YouTube and sweat along, so too will you do this with Dan... Only it is your fingers that build up the sweat. Follow through the course in order and memorise each exercise.

We kick off with our E shape CAGED chord. This feels like the best place to start as it’s built from the root note on the E string, and is the most common chord of the CAGED chord system. As with all our chords, we’ll start by learning it all in C major, before changing keys later down the line. Let’s get started!

Lesson 1: Chord & Arpeggio

First up, let’s learn the chord shape and arpeggio. We have drawn out the basic shapes below, as well as alternate ways for you to play this, to ensure that no matter you preference, you can play this chord. Your first task is to learn these shapes.

Lesson 2: Diatonic & Pentatonic

Now we’ll continue to layer up this shape by adding the full major scale box 2 and the major pentatonic box 2. These scale shapes will ALWAYS work over the top of this CAGED chord position, so lets get them memorised now.

Lesson 3: Moving Keys

We will now bring in the backing track! So, lets start by talking about the backing track. The chords are as follows:

C for 4 bars, G for 4 bars, D for 4 bars, A for 4 bars, E for 4 bars, B for 4 bars, F# for 4 bars.

This chord progression is based on the circle of fifths, which is a fantastic way to subtly change keys. If you take a look at this diagram first:

For example, the key of C major has zero sharps of flats, but the key of G major only has one sharp. Therefore, when you shift to the key of G major you are only changing one note. This gives you a nice subtle shift and allows you to quite comfortably roll between keys. We’ll have more on this in a future course, but this is all the detail we need for now.

all 7 keys in shapes...

For your reference, below we have drawn out every single chord shape, scale and arpeggio in each of the keys, following along with the backing track. Your job is to play through all of these as the backing track changes, trying to move with those changes. Enjoy!

Lesson 4: Melodic Playing

For this lesson we take all of the chord and scale shapes from the previous lesson and try to use them melodically. This is the real underlying truth behind the CAGED system, being able to use it as your base for soloing! Use the chord shapes to put you in position, and then start trying to play into the shapes. Here are a few tips for you:

    Top Tips

  • 1. Use the arpeggios to target the key tones of the chord as you change to a new key.
  • 2. Visualise the chord box to find the key, but don’t necessarily play it!
  • 3. Play simple melodies using the scales provided. No need to overcomplicate this!
  • 4. Take your time, and accept that there will be many mistakes! This is a creative process, and therefore you will have good days and bad days with it. Keep working at it and you’ll gradually reduce those bad days!

Materials: Backing Track

Here's the track Dan plays along with in the videos. Once you're comfortable with the concept try it yourself!

Ready to move on? Remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

The D CAGED Shape

We now move onto our D shape CAGED chord. This isn’t quite as easy to find as the E string shape, but will rapidly help you learn the D string notes.