CAGED and 3 NPS system

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:01 pm
by eric glenn • 3 Posts

Hey guys, so after watching Pebber's video lesson for mapping out the C major scale along with the scale tones on the fret board, I'm beginning to understand how to view the CAGED and 3 notes per string scale. I do understand that these are a beginners format for the scale, but I do have questions. Once I've mapped out the these scales I assume I need to practice them on the guitar and get use to where the positions are. When looking at the CAGED system, even though the shape I'm playing is that of an A chord, it's still a C Major chord...is this correct? The purpose is to find different places along the fret board to play a C Major chord? So what is the purpose of moving onto the 3 NPS method? Please enlighten me. The answers are probably staring me in the face, but I am getting a little overwhelmed. I practice a lot of the exercises on the guitar and have been writing a lot of the C major scale out on the blank fret board. Just need some clarification to be sure I am looking at all of this from the correct perspective.

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RE: CAGED and 3 NPS system

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:00 am
by Justip • 47 Posts

This is probably not the best answer you are going to get. Both serve different functions. At the same time each system will show a different scale tone that the scales can be started on. A Cmaj chord starts on the 5th string at the third fret. C is the root note. The shape is an A shape.

The Major Scale is 7 tones built on a formula of Whole Steps(W) and Half Steps(H)
Major Scale = WWH-W-WWH. The middle W is a link.

The CAGED System dosen't use the entire amount of whole steps and half steps available in the 7 tone scale.

The 3 NPS method uses all Seven Tones to start the scale from, and helps build speed and technique in the left hand.

There is lot more to the 3NPS than meets the ears initially. Sooner or later there will be more than one scale shape appear when playing the C Major Chord at the 3rd fret and the 8th fret. Also you will start to hear about different scale playing techniques such as connect tone legato and other types of legato which the CAGED system isn't really the best to practice with.

I find 3NPS better for trills practice than CAGED.

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RE: CAGED and 3 NPS system

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:20 pm
by mr. gurgle (deleted)

Here's some more for you to consider.

Yes to your CAGED question. Any one of those chord shapes can become the C chord. For example the E shape played on the 8th fret (E string bar form of the chord) is the C chord. The A shape played on the 3rd fret (A string, bar form) is the C chord. And so on.

It's like saying what if my guitar had a capo on the 3rd fret and I would have to play the D chord? Could I just play the open D chord? No you couldn't, the sound would be 3 semitones higher than a regular D chord. It would sound like a C sharp chord. You would need a chord that is 3 semitones lower than the D chord. So that would be what? It would be the B chord.

Try to play this chord.


Now play the normal D shape, you notice that they sound the same. They do, because this shape would be the B chord if you would have the capo on the 3rd fret.

Thus a chord shape can sound like another shape, when played in the right place. Now if you think about this, why confine it all to the 5 chords in the CAGED system, when you have 7 chords in the Major scale? What about that B and F for example? Why did they leave those out from the CAGED system? It must be a pentatonic ( penta = five) conspiracy! It must be! But not to worry! We can do some work for ourselves and map the whole Major scale formula on a piece of (virtual) paper and see what it looks like. Let's do it!

There are seven notes in the Major scale and the distance between the notes is written like this.

W W H – W – W W H

W = whole step, that is two frets on the guitar. H = half step that is one fret.

On your low E string (do it in the key of G maj because Pebber has his material in it) it will look like this.

G A B C D E F# G (Note names)

3...5...7...8...10...12...14...15 (Fret numbers)

w w h w w w h (The formula for the major scale.)

You now have all the notes of the major scale (in this instance in the key of G) mapped out on your low E string and you can now build from each individual note the major scale again. Since only one of these scales can start from the root note (G in this instance), all the other ones will have to become the modes of the major scale. This simply means that when you learn the 3NPS system, you learn the modes too! That's cool!

What a mode of the Major scale is, is just a scale that starts on one of the notes of the parent scale, but retains the formula of the Major scale from that note onward. So the first scale starts (if in G) from the G and follows the Major scale formula. After this each consecutive mode moves one note forward in the formula and then holds, from that point onward the major scale formula. Look at this chart to help you see what it means.


You see that the starting point changes, but the formula for the Major scale continues from that point forward unchanged. So the WWH W WWH will repeat itself endlessly and you can enter in to it in any given point (seven places since there are seven notes in the scale) and continue forward (left to right) and count seven notes and you will have a mode of the major scale.

In the key of G you get.

1 Ionian............ G Major or G Ionian (the major scale formula)
2 Dorian ….........A Dorian (built on the 2nd degree of the major scale)
3 Phrygian..........B Phrygian (built on the 3rd degree of the major scale)
4 Lydian............C Lydian (built on the 4th degree of the major scale)
5 Mixolydian.......D Mixolydian (built on the 5th degree of the major scale)
6 Aeolian...........E Aeolian (built on the 6th degree of the major scale. This is also the nat min. scale)
7 Locrian...........F# Locrian (built on the 7th degree of the major scale)

Notice that the mode is named after the note it starts from, not from the key signature of the parent scale. So in G you don't have a G Dorian, but an A Dorian (the second note of the C major scale is A, the note the mode was built on.) This naming ”helps” you to understand that the A Dorian will sound like the major scale over the G chord. For the Dorian mode to sound modal (not like a major scale) it needs another type of Chord underneath it and so it is with the rest of the modes too.

Here you have what the Modes want to hear to become modal sounding.

Ionian......... wants to hear, Major Chords
Dorian......... wants to hear, Minor, Minor 7th, Minor 9th
Phrygian......wants to hear, Minor, Minor 7th
Lydian..........wants to hear, Major, Major 7th, Major 9th, Sharp 11th
Mixolydian.....wants to hear, Dominant Chords
Lydian..........wants to hear, Minor Chords
Locrian.........wants to hear, Diminished, Minor 7th Flat Fives

But if you play any of these modes (of the G maj) over the G chord they will sound like the major scale! Cool! And these shapes are movable too, so you can play any mode from any position you like.

From these points I would imagine that the 3NPS system looks and really is far superior to the CAGED system. Firstly you don't just learn the 7 positions to play the major scale in, but you learn the modes too. That's a bargain!

Then notice that the 3NPS (3 Notes Per String) shapes are always 3 notes on every string. It helps in the long run to develop speed in the runs.

And to top it off Pebber said in one of his videos, as he was approaching the 3NPS, that it is a favorite of many, even in the NAMM show people could be imagined to start chanting 3NPS, 3NPS even the security guards would join in! So there's a happy crowd to join in, it can't be that bad!

(A reminder! On the 7 System PDF Pebber made, one has to see the shape no. 1 and 2 as the Ionian, 3rd Dorian and so forth. You have to figure out on your own the fingering for the Locrian mode and then you have all the modes + one extra way to play the major scale! Cool too!)

If there are mistakes in this etc. I'm sorry, tried my best so hopefully this gurgling will help somewhat! Cheers!

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RE: CAGED and 3 NPS system

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:40 pm
by eric glenn • 3 Posts

Thanks for your responses guys. Alot of info to take in. I will continue to review what you've told me and practice hard. Guess the best thing is to practice the 5 pos scale for all the maj chords. Once comfortable, begin to shift my attention to the 7 pos scale(3NPS). Wow, gutiarist sure have alot to learn to be proficent. Makes me appreciate what you guys do. Thanks again.......

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