CAGED Sucks Part 4: Stretching

Tommaso Zillio

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If you use the CAGED system in your playing, why do you use it over other systems? If you do NOT use the CAGED system, why are you using what you are using rather than CAGED? Stop for a moment and think about the honest answer to these questions. Are these reasons valid?

We have previously seen that the CAGED system is not consistent (CAGED Sucks Part 1: Right Hand Consistency) and that it divides the fretboard in an unnatural way (CAGED Sucks. Part 3: The "Natural" Division Of The Fretboard). One question that you may have at this point is: "well, if there are so many disadvantages to the CAGED patterns then why people use them?"

The answer it surprising to say the least... and it took me a while to realize that this is what was going on. The reason is that the CAGED scale shapes are optimized not for ease of access, or mechanical consistency, or ease of memorization, or arpeggio integration (see CAGED Sucks, Part 2: Scales-Arpeggio Integration).

They are optimized to avoid stretching the fretting hand.

And this is in fact one of the most common excuses/objection that people who learned the CAGED system give when they are put in contact with other systems: "I will not learn these stretchy shapes". Of course, when you consider that the price for that are all the inconsistencies and disadvantages we have seen so far, then this objection sounds a bit silly :-)

Especially considering the fact that it's easy to learn how to stretch your fretting hand to cover more than 4 frets - if you know the proper technique.

In the following video I show exactly how to perform a stretch with your fretting hand so that it is effortless even for a beginner. It's all a matter of positioning the fretting hand in the correct way, so that even a guitar player with small hands (like mine) can do it. Watch the video to learn how to perform a stretch:

As you see, it was not rocket science. Grab your guitar, put your hand in the correct position and enjoy your newfound ability to play "stretchy" shapes. And now you have no more excuses to use CAGED :-)


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