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  1. #1

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    I've only known CAGED and having discovered 3NPS I'm wondering what to make of it. It seems 3NPS may make it easier to see chromatic approaches and enclosures, and perhaps make it easier to see common alterations (especially on the lower strings where the Ionian notes 1-6 are all spaced 2 frets apart).

    But Yikes, as I've briefly played with the 3NPS patterns I feel it would be such a huge shift to start trying to see the neck in a new way, and Good Lord the ARPS. As it is, I am just starting to feel comfortable making the 2-5-1 ARP changes within a single CAGED position.

    If you are or were a CAGED person who added or switched to 3NPS, why did you do it? Was it worthwhile?

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  3. #2

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    Most of the CAGED forms already have three notes per string; when there are only two notes, that is usually on either the G or B string alternately (if there are three notes on the G string, there are usually two on the B string or vice versa).

    If you really want to go for it, Allan Holdsworth's scale forms usually had four notes per string, but his handspan was huge.

    I have never found any particular benefit in terms of fingering, phrasing, etc., with three notes per scale forms so I gave up on it. It just seemed to be more inconvenient and more complicated to get around on the neck. I've never bothered to study sweep or economy picking as such, either. YMMV, though- a lot of really good players have mastered this stuff.

    Also have a look at Johnny Smith's scale method and the Segovia scales.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by HighSnows
    I've only known CAGED and having discovered 3NPS I'm wondering what to make of it. It seems 3NPS may make it easier to see chromatic approaches and enclosures, and perhaps make it easier to see common alterations (especially on the lower strings where the Ionian notes 1-6 are all spaced 2 frets apart).

    But Yikes, as I've briefly played with the 3NPS patterns I feel it would be such a huge shift to start trying to see the neck in a new way, and Good Lord the ARPS. As it is, I am just starting to feel comfortable making the 2-5-1 ARP changes within a single CAGED position.

    If you are or were a CAGED person who added or switched to 3NPS, why did you do it? Was it worthwhile?
    The CAGED system is purely vertical. The 3NPS string system gets you moving horizontally as well.
    Therefore, you will be able to utilize more of the Guitar’s fretboard with your explorations.


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  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doublea A
    The CAGED system is purely vertical.
    I beg to differ here: it's a matter of how you apply the CAGED system. Sure, you can just stay in the respective chord shape position but it is when connecting the shapes where the fun begins and where the fretboard "opens up"...

  6. #5

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    Yes, but strictly speaking, the CAGED system is meant to be vertical. I agree that you "attach" shapes that the Fretboard opens up but one does the learn the system and immediately connecting the shapes.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Most of the CAGED forms already have three notes per string; when there are only two notes, that is usually on either the G or B string alternately (if there are three notes on the G string, there are usually two on the B string or vice versa).

    If you really want to go for it, Allan Holdsworth's scale forms usually had four notes per string, but his handspan was huge.
    I'm not sure if this is quite correct.

    4NPS is a good way to practice a scale if you want to get from one end of the guitar to the other and map it out fully, and from the Allan instructional video I think that's the way he meant it.

    Much of Allan's actual playing seems to me to be 3nps with a lot of stretches and string skips and so on, but not necessarily 3nps positions. So we have a lot of octave doubling, part of Allan's sound really, when going across the strings. So he might play pentatonic forms with stretches, but his modal stuff was often pretty based around the same mechanics without the stretches, and would use some 4nps figures to move up and down the neck.

    At least that's the impression I get, but I am not an Allan expert of course. There are probably others here who would know better.

    I do get the impression that he did not like to play single notes on consecutive strings as I would, and would rather stretch to get the interval. I think he preferred the way it sounded and it worked with his physical capabilities and technique.

    I have never found any particular benefit in terms of fingering, phrasing, etc., with three notes per scale forms so I gave up on it. It just seemed to be more inconvenient and more complicated to get around on the neck. I've never bothered to study sweep or economy picking as such, either. YMMV, though- a lot of really good players have mastered this stuff.

    Also have a look at Johnny Smith's scale method and the Segovia scales.
    TBH I think picking one thing and practicing it a lot is more important than one particular school. At the end of the day, one's fingering decisions about a phrase should be more based around sound than doctrine. But muscle memory is perhaps particularly helpful for sight reading fast stuff.

    I do think that CAGED has the advantage that it can be used to group scale positions in with chords and this is very useful for straightahead jazz players. If I play a certain chord grip, I want to know where all the degrees of the scales are in relation to that so I can unify the two together and get out of single note soloing all the time for instance. It's also handy for playing fast changes. I don't think this is impossible with other fingering schemes, but its pretty much built into the system. It's how I've learned. Perhaps sometimes I feel a bit positional, so I've got interested in more up and down the neck playing.

    The alternative is building scales around chord is to build chords out from scales in the Allan way, but that's perhaps less well suited to traditional jazz guiltar playing.
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-06-2020 at 06:37 PM.

  8. #7

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    An alternative that doesn't get often mentioned is what I think of as diagonal positions. A lot of Wes's playing seems to fit this, and maybe Django's.

    So for instance you finger a Gm9 arpeggio not like this:

    ------------5
    -----3--6
    ---3---
    -5-----
    --------
    --------

    But like this

    --------------------
    ----------6--10
    -------7
    -5--8
    ------
    -----

    Allowing you to extend the arp still further into the top string on frets 8 and 12.

    ------------------8--12
    ----------6--10
    -------7
    -5--8
    ----
    -----

    The fingering is with all with fingers 1 2 and 3 and using a lot of shifts. This gets you up and across the neck fast. You can then slot in scale tones around this basic framework. I suppose when you do that it is more like a 3nps/4nps hybrid position.

    But stretches are unnecessary - you can always shift and slide, and the span of the 1st to 3rd finger is more than enough to manage the arpeggio if you pronate the hand sufficiently and keep the hand mobile.

    I often feel using three fingers is a good way to get into moving the hand more, and may help if you find you are bit too much of a positional 'stuck' player.

  9. #8

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    If we consider the 3 common positional systems. 3 NPS, Caged and the 7 position system, all three are vertical, position based systems. They are not horizontal. If you want to develop your horizontal playing, you have to put in extra effort regardless of which of the three you use.

    3 NPS: It's optimized for the right hand. It lets you use a consistent alternate picking pattern on every string. In real life, good phrases do not always conform to this limitation. Why would you want to use a system that shields you from the real life? Wouldn't you want to use a system that forces you to practice a more versatile right hand picking technique? Well it depends on your real life. If you're a heavy metal shredder and 3NPS is the only way you can play certain idiosyncratic scale or arpeggio patterns in that style up to speed, that's a good reason.

    7 position system: It's optimized for avoiding shifts. It's similar to 3 NPS but no shifts at the expense of some 2 note strings. Good playing technique in real life involves shifts. Segovia's system is based on shifts. Again why would you use a system whose "selling feature" minimizes working on shifts. Well if your real life involves a lot of gigs that require real time reading accuracy and reducing shifts helps you achieve that, that's a good reason.

    CAGED: A more straightforward system that perhaps makes playing diatonic arpeggios in position more natural as Christian said above. It involves some shifts and inconsistent picking patterns across the strings which I think is good for your technique. But you probably still have to practice these techniques with a more deliberate approach and not rely only on Caged to automatically deliver them. Caged is completely stretch free, so if you have finger joint problems or small fingers, this is the system you'd probably prefer.

    I think it's important to see these systems as stepping stones towards a more homogenous fretboard view. IMO, seeing deeper layers in each position is also crucial. Scale degrees, arpeggio intervals, repeating octaves etc. Not just as dot patterns stretching 4-5 frets.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 10-21-2020 at 12:08 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOMMO
    I beg to differ here: it's a matter of how you apply the CAGED system. Sure, you can just stay in the respective chord shape position but it is when connecting the shapes where the fun begins and where the fretboard "opens up"...
    I agree. Learning the five positions is just the beginning. Learning to shift from one to the other comes next.

    Jimmy Bruno is a master of this.(Though he HATES the term CAGED and does not use it. He calls them the "five fingerings.")


  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doublea A
    Yes, but strictly speaking, the CAGED system is meant to be vertical. I agree that you "attach" shapes that the Fretboard opens up but one does the learn the system and immediately connecting the shapes.
    CAGED is the order that position connect vertically up the neck to each other. C form connects to A form connects to G form etc. Right up and down the neck. It's CAGED not GCDEA. My references are CAGED but I can play vertically while using those references.

    I think of CAGED as chord positions, the scale fingerings come secondary and are just suggestions. No reason you can't play 3 notes per string while still using those chord references. Really when you've done CAGED (or any system) long enough you don't really need to think of it any longer.

  12. #11

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    There's no reason to think you can only use one way to finger a scale.

    If you spend some time working up and down the individual strings and pairs of adjacent strings, you'll work out issues with shifting, stretching and being stuck in positions. When you decide to utilize three or more adjacent strings, you're free to use whatever fingering makes sense for what you want to play.

    Try working out one of the pieces from the Bach violin sonatas and partitas. You'll be shifting, stretching, string skipping, arpeggiating and making scale runs based on where the music needs to go rather than where your fingers want to go.

    .

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    CAGED is the order that position connect vertically up the neck to each other. C form connects to A form connects to G form etc. Right up and down the neck.
    You meant to say horizontally, didn't you?

  14. #13
    IMO 3NPS is a couple of degrees of separation from CAGED.

    1) CAGED - shifts/no stretch
    2) 7-position Leavitt-type patterns - stretch/no shifts. They have more overlap with CAGED. They're something like 80% the same for the 5 positions. Then, they have 2 additional positions. Anyway, one degree of separation IMO.
    3) 3NPS - combination of stretch/no shifts on individual strings, but has position shifts between strings. Shares a lot of overlap with 7position/Leavitt. Most positions are exactly the same, except for strings 1-2 mostly. There is a shift on those 1st 2 or 3 strings, but there's also more commonality in the patterns themselves string-to-string. You can do whatever, but there's a lot more difference between 1) and 3). FYI

    See Jens Larson's video on 3NPS. Excellent break-down of practical/philosophical aspects.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    CAGED is the order that position connect vertically up the neck to each other. C form connects to A form connects to G form etc. Right up and down the neck. It's CAGED not GCDEA. My references are CAGED but I can play vertically while using those references.

    I think of CAGED as chord positions, the scale fingerings come secondary and are just suggestions. No reason you can't play 3 notes per string while still using those chord references. Really when you've done CAGED (or any system) long enough you don't really need to think of it any longer.
    It’s just different ways of understanding and locating the scales on the fretboard.


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  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOMMO
    You meant to say horizontally, didn't you?
    I did mean to say vertically. The way I see it... Going from the first fret to the 12th fret is what I think of as vertical, i.e. up the neck. Going from C form to A form to G form in the key of C is going from 1st position to 2nd position to 5th position vertically up the neck.

    Playing a scale in one position is going horizontally across the neck.

    I think that is the conventional idea of vertical vs. horizontal. However, I have been known to mix things up from time to time, especially my right from my left.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doublea A
    It’s just different ways of understanding and locating the scales on the fretboard.


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    Not the way I see it. It's chords first, it's built off of chord forms, scales are secondary.

    1st pages of many pages of CAGED. In particular read the sentence after the 1st horizontal line, Bill Thrasher can explain things much better than I can. "overlapping, interlocking" is always the way I've thought of CAGED, I always think "nope" when anyone says CAGED locks you into position playing. I should also note, this material was written in 1963.
    Attached Images Attached Images 3NPS from CAGED-caged-1-png 3NPS from CAGED-caged-2-png 3NPS from CAGED-caged-3-jpg 3NPS from CAGED-caged-4-jpg 3NPS from CAGED-caged-5-png 

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    I did mean to say vertically. The way I see it... Going from the first fret to the 12th fret is what I think of as vertical, i.e. up the neck. Going from C form to A form to G form in the key of C is going from 1st position to 2nd position to 5th position vertically up the neck.

    Playing a scale in one position is going horizontally across the neck.

    I think that is the conventional idea of vertical vs. horizontal. However, I have been known to mix things up from time to time, especially my right from my left.
    For me it has always been the other way around...

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Not the way I see it. It's chords first, it's built off of chord forms, scales are secondary.

    1st pages of many pages of CAGED. In particular read the sentence after the 1st horizontal line, Bill Thrasher can explain things much better than I can. "overlapping, interlocking" is always the way I've thought of CAGED, I always think "nope" when anyone says CAGED locks you into position playing. I should also note, this material was written in 1963.
    I think that we are saying the same thing. The positions are starting points. The scales are based around the chords and vice versa.
    When I teach this, I teach one scale pattern at a time. Then I teach the student to link the scales. All the while, I am referring to the chord shapes affiliated with the scales.
    I am not arguing with you fep, just explaining how I have approached the system.
    When Some students have a hard time “seeing” it one way so I then teach it from a different point of view


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  20. #19

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    Just for you you get a sneak preview of next weeks video.



    it's not very interesting but at least it’s relevant

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Just for you you get a sneak preview of next weeks video.



    it's not very interesting but at least it’s relevant
    No video.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    No video.
    Ah, cheers.

  23. #22

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    An aside on vertical vs horizontal terminology:

    When hearing these terms applied to the fretboard I often stop to wonder which the speaker intends to be which.

    I'd suggest using compass points instead (North/South & East/West) but I'd still likely stop to ponder whether my guitar were in my lap or on its stand in order to keep the directions straight. In other words, whether it sat horizontally or vertically ;-)

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    An alternative that doesn't get often mentioned is what I think of as diagonal positions. A lot of Wes's playing seems to fit this, and maybe Django's....

    I often feel using three fingers is a good way to get into moving the hand more, and may help if you find you are bit too much of a positional 'stuck' player.
    Yes! Garrison Fewell works like this in his book Jazz Improvisation: A Melodic Approach. Wes was a large influence on him. It's a good way to move around the neck, especially when one combines triads (such as Gm and F, or Bbm and Ab). You find yourself scooting a good ways with ease. Fewell is also particular about the fingering that allows this approach to flourish.

  25. #24

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    This is how most people use the terms vertical and horizontal when talking about playing the guitar
    3NPS from CAGED-vertical-vs-horizontal-jpg
    The neck is considered from the player's perspective. Up is going nearer the highE string and down is going nearer the low E. Horizontal playing may occur on a single string.