Q&A - Beyond CAGED

Hi David,

Thank you for writing your book. I really like your philosophy. Can you explain the difference between the IFR system and the CAGED system?

Thanks in advance,

David's response:

Hi Jon,

The CAGED system is a great step forward for beginning guitarists because it organizes the fretboard into five repeating patterns.

IFR takes this thinking one level deeper. In the same way that the CAGED drawings simplified the fretboard down to five patterns, IFR reduces these five patterns down to a single concept that can be visualized anywhere.

The reason we use this technique is because it gives us three important benefits:

  • Learning the fretboard is much faster. In the IFR Video Course for Guitar, for example, you'll be able to solo in any key across the ENTIRE fretboard by the fourth lesson. Think about that. How can it be possible to learn the entire fretboard in just four lessons? This means the ability to play all 12 major scales and all 7 modes of each scale across the entire fretboard. And the only "theory" to memorize is one simple drawing of the major scale. This is the power of taking the time to understand what you're doing. Most guitar methods are in such a rush to get you soloing that they give you pentatonic scales and other patterns in the very first lesson, but you have no idea where these concepts come from or how they fit into a larger picture of harmony. But if you can just slow down and take a moment to understand how the fretboard works, in literally four lessons you can master an ability that would take YEARS with the other approach.
  • It greatly accelerates ear training and improvisation. One of the drawbacks to memorized scale drawings is that it's very difficult to maintain your awareness of where you are in the overall key of the music, because you begin seeing the scale drawing as just an empty physical shape. This is why so many beginning guitarists have such a hard time truly creating melodies when they improvise. Using the IFR tonal map you always know exactly where you are in the key of the music, and this awareness is 100% integrated with your ear.
  • It prepares you for more advanced music. In many styles of music, the key of the music is constantly changing. And so there is no single scale drawing that will serve you for very long. What you really need is the ability to instantly visualize the notes of whatever new key that you're feeling now. In IFR, this is how we play all the time. So in IFR, improvising over tunes with constant key changes is just as easy as improvising in a single key the whole time.

If you like the CAGED system, you're going to love IFR. It contains the logic you already appreciate in CAGED but it turns this logic into a completely open system that you can visualize anywhere on the fretboard.

Thanks for the great question,