Tommaso Zillio: Leaving The CAGED Guitar Theory Behind

Leaving The CAGED Guitar Theory Behind
Part 1: Using The Right Hand
Tommaso Zillio

"The key of performance is elegance, not battalions of special cases" (Jon Bentley and Doug McIlroy)

Are you the type of person who has tried the CAGED method of learning to use a guitar’s fretboard, but hasn’t found it to be useful? Did you read about the methodology and run the other way? Or do you like to work with everything to see what’s right for you?

It doesn’t matter what you use to learn a guitar fretboard, you have certainly seen, or maybe even taken part in the debate over whether or not the CAGED system works. Works of epic proportions have popped up on blog after magazine, after blog — people have sacrificed lovers, brothers, and haters alike to the debate, which would be cool if this were a Lord Of The Rings spinoff rather than a simple debate over guitar theory :-)

“Is the method of learning really all that fundamental?” people have asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” The fact is that it really does matter: as a music teacher, I’ve witnessed just how important it is to learn the fretboard the right way, given the sheer amount of hours spent by players working to use it fluidly.

If you’re aware of this debate, you’ve likely noticed how hard it is to follow based on a number of factors, such as:
  1. Some of the debaters use ad hominem (or, personal) attacks instead of getting to the point, which don’t really make for a good argument.
  2. The debate happens over different media and in different places (Facebook, YouTube, etc..), and many different issues are discussed at the same time
  3. The most pertinent issue, however, is that the majority of people in the debate just state their positions, without having any argument to back up their points (or even without making their point clear!)
Disclosure: I truly believe that believes the CAGED method simply does not work — which, based on the title, or my past articles, might be the reason why you’re here — and so I thought about developing something to show why that is. This is the first video of a series about the issues the CAGED system presents. Each video will dispute ONLY one, simple issue instead of working on a long, incomprehensible litany of grievances.

In this first video, I will show how the CAGED system is often inconsistent. Take a look at the video below to get an idea of what I mean.

The CAGED system only results in the learner having to work harder, learning past concepts over and over to get the same result as other methods in terms of working knowledge, speed, and skill.

About the Author

A professional guitarist, teacher, and composer, Tommaso Zillio enjoys particularly writing about music theory and its application to guitar playing