IFR Student Question: Beyond CAGED

Hi David,

Thank you for writing your book. I really like your philosophy. On the guitar, I cannot help but think of patterns as in the CAGED system. To practice your method, should I stop thinking about the CAGED drawings?

Thanks in advance,

David's response:

Hi Jon,

With IFR, you won't need those scale drawings anymore. As you grow in your understanding of harmony, each day you're going to feel a little more liberated from those memorized scale drawings because you simply won't need them anymore. With IFR you'll be developing something much deeper and more powerful, which is a genuine understanding of harmony and the ability to instantly visualize any musical concept anywhere on the fretboard.

And this is really the level that all improvisers want to reach. To improvise freely and truly express the sounds that you imagine, you need an understanding that goes much deeper than scale drawings. Your musical imagination doesn't think in terms of scale drawings. To express the sounds you imagine, you need to have a true understanding of where those sounds come from in our musical system, and the ability to create those sounds anywhere on your guitar.

And if you approach it the right way, it's actually very easy to learn this deeper understanding. In the IFR Video Course for Guitar, for example, you'll be playing all 12 major scales in all 7 modes across the entire fretboard by the fourth lesson. Think about that. Four lessons.

guitarist using CAGED drawingsCompare that to how long it would take you with the CAGED system. CAGED is presented as a learning aid but it's actually an incredibly slow and laborious way to map out the fretboard. If you just take a moment to understand what you're actually doing, you can move beyond the whole paradigm of memorized scale drawings and you can get on a much faster learning path which outpaces the CAGED approach almost immediately.

That's not to say that you can't go on to become a wonderful musician even if you start out using the CAGED system. But one of the disadvantages of the CAGED shortcut is that you miss out on very important musical lessons along the way. And these are precisely the lessons that open all the doors for you creatively. I think most guitarists would much rather have a genuine understanding and mastery of the fretboard so they can move around it with a sense of freedom and confidence.

In IFR we go directly to this deep understanding of harmony so that you can play anything you want anywhere on the fretboard. Not only does this approach take you farther as an improviser, but it's actually the faster path as well. Even after just the first four lessons of the IFR Video Course for Guitar you'll already be way ahead of where you would be with the CAGED system. So our attitude is why spend a lifetime trapped inside a bunch of scale drawings when a genuine understanding can be acquired in just a few lessons?

Get the complete IFR Video Course for Guitar

You can learn the complete approach outlined above in the IFR Video Course for Guitar. You will learn to understand the entire fretboard at once, allowing you to break out of memorized scale drawings and truly express yourself creatively. And you will gain a deep understanding of harmony that enables you to improvise your own solos over a wide variety of songs and chord progressions. No prior knowledge of music theory or the IFR method is required.