However well we might improvise, the basis of all the best music is harmony. On the guitar understanding that harmony helps you to make better solos as well as cool riffs in support of other musicians. On this page I am going to explain the CAGED system of chord knowledge over the next few weeks. For now, all you need to know is that CAGED comes from the names of these chords:
So, for lesson 1 on the CAGED system of fretboard knowledge, practice all of these chords until you can change them without thinking about it. Practice them first with the regular fingering, fingers 1, 2 and 3. When that is easy and the shapes are really imprinted, try playing them all using only fingers 2, 3 and 4 of your left hand (point your index finger at the computer screen - that's it). Some are easier than others - E and A are pretty easy, D is OK, C and G are difficult! Please note this is only suitable for more advanced players - those of you with smaller hands might just want to stick with the normal fingerings.
More later, so practice and watch this space....
A little delayed due to illness, but here it starts:
Beautiful isn't it? This is the A chord over 14 frets.... Now each position is a different colour and some notes overlap so they have two colours. I would suggest you learn each colour/shape first as a chord, then each string as a tapped or legato arpeggio. Now do you see how chord knowledge can affect lead playing? Don't forget to learn the note names. It gives you an edge!
You have some understanding of the fretboard now, and you are raring to go with those blistering solos. How do you become a really fast guitar player?
This is quoted from my article on Squidoo:
The Fastest Guitar Player in the World
which showcases Tiago Della Vega and Randy Padilla:
"So do you want to learn to play guitar in an elegant style and become the fastest guitar player in the world? If you choose to go for speed as your goal, you need to do so safely. It is no good being the second fastest ex-guitarist and faulty technique might cause severe and permanent injury. If you are trying this without a teacher, then please read these tips CAREFULLY.
Firstly, never attempt to play fast without warming up your hands. Some players recommend soaking them in warm water first. This could lead to softening the skin and cuts, so warm up by playing in a warm room. Play easy things, relax, don't go immediately into advanced exercises. Start simple, get in the groove.
Secondly, you will see that BOTH players started slowly (for them!) they didn't leap straight in to maximum speed. Randall Padilla started each speed burst with a short single note lead in. This helped him find his way into the beat before playing his six string speed lick.
Thirdly, if you watched carefully you will see that the pick hand position of each player was near perfect, they played a mixture of down and up strokes alternately in a tremolo picked style. Tremolo picking is the first skill you will need to master for speed playing. To make this easier, use a heavy guage plectrum, hold it lightly very close to the tip to avoid it catching between strings and to avoid "leverage" making you grip too tightly . Gripping too tightly will lock your wrist and lead to pain and injury.
Fourthly, pick lightly, small and light helps speed. Most beginners pick too hard when they try for speed. It is like running a marathon in diving boots. Small and light is the rule for picking.
Fifthly, small and light also applies to the left hand. If you want to shred you must learn to keep your hand IN POSITION, each fret has it's own finger, there are NO stretches in either example here. The players move their left hand fingers up and down the neck maintaining PERFECT positional playing. Try this sort of thing with macho metal fingerings and you will cripple yourself. Speed and large movements are NOT compatible. You hardly see any movement in Della Vega's left hand. Cultivate playing like this, and you will make an excellent player in any style, whether or not you ever join the ranks of guitarthletes!
Relax, let your left arm be totally flexible and follow where your hand leads, don't force a thing. Breathe regularly and with the flow of the music, but don't hold your breath - you will get tense and lose oxygen. To play this fast, your brain needs to be engaged too!
Finally, if it hurts STOP. It is too hard, you are doing something wrong, or you are simply not ready. These guys have practised many hours each day for years to get here. It is not beginners territory and the only gain you make from pain is disability!