roots-only CAGED training exercise

  1. Choose a natural note: either A, B, C, D, E, F, or G, no sharps or flats. Let’s say your choice is A.
  1. On your guitar, play the A note on all the strings, starting from the lowest possible position (starting fret). Play the roots of each shape of CAGED starting from the lowest shape possible and repeating it up an octave. For each shape, play all the roots, starting with the lowest and ending with the highest.  In the example of the note A, the lowest shape is the A shape so your routine would be AGEDCA where the final A starts at 12th fret, string 5.
  1. Grab a metronome and use the ‘tap’ feature to find what tempo you can play all of the above in succession at the speed of one note per beat, then speed it up in increments of 1 to 5 clicks. (If the lowest tempo is too fast, double it and slow it down from there so you can play 1 note per 2 clicks. For example if the slowest your metronome goes is 30 and you need to go slower, set it to 60, then 55, then 50 etc. to find how fast you can play 1 note every other click.)

Here are some advanced exercises you can do on today’s session. Do them in this order:

  1. Write a sequence of notes and practice the entire sequence for each one of them one after another without stopping. Example of a sequence: A F B D G E C. In this case, you will play the A note all over the fretboard as described above, then without stopping you will switch to the F note, play each it as described (in this case the CAGED sequence would be EDCAGE), then all the B notes with the same routine. Set the metronome slow enough so you can hang on and do the entire sequence without stopping and try to stay relaxed.
  1. Go back practicing one note at a time, but this time practice these notes: A# C# D# F# G#. Then practice these notes (again, one at a time): Ab, Bb, Db, Eb, Gb (Note: A# and Bb are the same note but you’ll still want to practice them separately.)
  1. Restrict yourself to one position for every note in the sequence by picking 1 fret number. For each note, find the shape that is nearest that fret number. (For example, using the above sequence A F B D G E C and choosing the 6th fret the shapes would be E, C, G, A, D, C, G.

different ways to play octaves on guitar