We now move onto the A shape CAGED chord. This is the second shape that people tend to know very well, but we will be expanding it and learning it more deeply. As with all our chords, we’ll start by learning it all in A minor, before changing keys later down the line. Let’s get started!
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 your preference, you can play this chord. Your first task is to learn these shapes. Note: Be sure to watch the video to see alternate versions that Dan may play, based around these shapes.
Now we’ll continue to layer up this shape by adding the pentatonic and the full major scale box. These scale shapes will ALWAYS work over the top of this CAGED chord position, so let's get them memorised now.
We will now bring in the backing track! So, lets start by talking about the backing track. The chords are as follows:
Am for 4 bars, Em for 4 bars, Bm for 4 bars, F#m for 4 bars, C#m for 4 bars, G#m for 4 bars.
This chord progression is based on the circle of fifths, which is a fantastic way to subtly change keys. When you are dealing in minor, as we are, we are using the relative minor to the major. This is commonly called the Aeolian mode, and is the 6th degree of the major scale. You can see the relative minors below, in comparison to the major keys. We are following the chords highlighted in red.
For example, the key of A Minor has zero sharps or flats, but the key of E Minor only has one sharp. Therefore, when you shift to the key of E Minor 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 6 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!
A Minor (click to expand)
E Minor (click to expand)
B Minor (click to expand)
F# Minor (click to expand)
C# Minor (click to expand)
G# Minor (click to expand)
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: