The CAGED System 6: A Closer Look at the ‘E’ Shape

Today we’re going to examine a particular set of very common chord shapes, which don’t seem to fit in the CAGED system…. or do they?


Take a look at this common major seventh chord shape:

Fig 1

At first glance the this chord shape doesn’t seem to fit into any of the typical CAGED positions. It has its bass note on the fourth string which would normally indicate a ‘D’ shape chord. However a true ‘D’ shape major seventh chord should have all of its notes in common with its parent scale the ‘D’ shape major scale.

For instance the actual ‘D’ shape major seventh chord has all of its notes in common with the ‘D’ shape scale:

Fig 2

But the “unknown chord” doesn’t derive from the ‘D’ shape major scale, since only two of its notes fit into the scale shape.

Fig 3

But if we compare our “unknown chord” with the the ‘E’ shape major scale instead, it fits perfectly:

Fig 4

Since the “unknown chord” has every note in common with the ‘E’ shape scale it must be an ‘E’ shape major seventh chord.

This also means that there are at least two ‘E’ shape major seventh chords – the one that we’ve just discovered, and the shape which we looked at in CAGED part 4. I’ve reprinted the figure from part 4, for convenience, along with the new ‘E’ shape chord and their parent scale.

To help understand how they all belong to the ‘E’ pattern, compare them and see how they relate.

Fig 5

More Chords Like This

For further demonstration, below are a few other chord shapes which fit into the ‘E’ shape CAGED scale shapes. I’ve given examples with the chords built on the fourth string, and on the sixth string. More examples can be found in the reference pdfs in the chord & scale diagrams section.

Fig 6

Fig 7

Fig 8

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