The CAGED System E Shape

To start exploring how these dots join together and form chord shapes were going to start looking at one area of the neck at a time and see how they resemble chords shapes you (hopefully!) know.


Finding the shape

Now let us look more closely at the first group of notes, found at the top of the neck. I have made them green now and moved them onto a smaller neck diagram below. But make sure you can see where they came from on the full neck diagram on the left.


Now some of you might recognise it as a regular F Barre chord! It is the one, your old friend ;)

Notice that it is still only using the notes F A and C but they form a useful and common shape. Also, notice that the 'root note' is on the thickest (6th) string.

Add a Barré

Look at it more closely and I have put a big black barre over the first fret so you can clearly see the shape of the chord in front of the barre... Imagine that barre is the nut of your guitar. Do you recognise the Open Chord shape?


Hopefully you recognise the chord as your very old friend the open E chord!

This shape is often called the "E Shape barre chord". You know it is the chord F but the parent shape of the chord is the common open E chord shape.

Position 1 vs E Shape

This shape is sometimes also referred to as Position 1. Mainly (I guess) because it is the first shape that many people learn.

Position 1 / E Shape means in practice that the root note of the chord is found on the 6th string (in this case the note F) and the majority of the notes are found further up (toward the bridge) than the root note (more on this later when we discuss the relationship of scales to CAGED).

So be sure to understand the "E shape" and "Position 1" mean the same things depending on who teaches them. I personally I much prefer E Shape, and I think of position as the fret I am playing in... (more on that later too...).

Remember too that every shape on the guitar that DOES NOT use open strings is moveable. Just think that the root note (in this case F) is on the thickest string. Know that you can move this shape up and down and it forms any other chord. For example - this same shape moved up to the 5th fret becomes the chord of A but still uses an "E Shape".

This shape is usually played like this:

E Shape barre

Because E is the first shape, and called Position 1, sometimes (although rarely) the CAGED system is called EDCAG.

Let's look at the other shapes in the next lesson - CAGED - More Shapes (D).

CAGED System