Author Options:

How to find and use guitar triads? Answered

How to find and use triads on a guitar in different keys and different inversions



I have an instructor and have searched the web. Mainly I was trying out this site and triads was the first question I thought of. Thanks for the replies. I appreciate your responses but I'm not impressed with this site.

I'm sorry to hear you're lack of enthusiasm for this site.

You do have to keep in mind, however, that while this site is comprised of a large community of DIY'ers who happen to play music in their spare time, you are asking a specific music theory/guitar question to a general audience.

If I went to the mall and asked everyone over the PA about guitar triads, I'd get lackluster results too.

For what it's worth, most dedicated musicians these days (including gigging professionals) don't know much if anything about theory or even how to read music beyond basic chord slashes.

It's funny how I just commented earlier on another question regarding an old instructional video I once saw from Joe Pass a long time ago.  He stated that there are five chord shapes that are used across the entire neck of the guitar: E, A, D, G, and C.  Any chord you play will be some variation of those, and inversions will simply be played by starting the strum on a string other than the one with the root.

I hope this lives up to your expectations; if you ask how to make a circuit that flashes LED's with an Arduino microprocessor or a wind turbine made of Folger's cans, I guarantee you'll get satisfactory results.


8 years ago

Triads are a very useful little trick, fantastic as a second guitar part, but also for creating riffs too. To hear some great 'real world' examples check out "Brown Eyed Girl" (Van Morrison) for some cool use as a second guitar part, "So Far Away" (Dire Straights) uses a whole heap of shapes for the main riff or "Substitute" (The Who) that uses the very shapes shown in the lesson to make the main riff. Maybe you should try and work them out?? hint hint... I break the lesson into three parts, each with a video. Try and get each bit down before moving onto the next. Part 1 This first step is to learn the three shapes of triads on strings 1,2 and 3. The shapes are shown below. Make sure that MEMORISE the shape and the ROOT NOTE. Without this knowledge you will never use them well. The shapes are shown below. Learn them well. Note that these triad shapes can be called Major (ie. G Maj), or just the note name (ie. G) or sometimes using the term triad (ie. G Maj Triad). Doesn't really matter, they are but simple major chords!


Part 2 Now that you know the shapes you need to learn to move them around to make any chord you want. For the whole demo in this lesson I am using the chord sequence: G . . . C . . . G . . . D . . . Now it is important that you know the root notes because knowing the root notes tells you where to place the triad shape. All you have to do is place the root note on the note that you want and it will be the correct shape. For example: Triad shape 1 - root note is on thinnest string. The note G is at the 3rd fret. So place the root note from the shape at the 3rd fret. To make it a C Chord, find the note C on the thinnest string... at the 8th fret. And put the chord shape down. Got it. Easy peasy!

Part 3 Now the fun begins ;) You have to now be able to find all three shapes in one area! This means you REALLY have to know your root notes and shapes. This will probably take you a little while and some practice. In area 1 use G (shape 1), C (shape 3) and D (shape 2) In area 2 use G (shape 2), C (shape 1) and D (shape 3) In area 3 use G (shape 3), C (shape 2) and D (shape 1) It is also good to just play around and use whichever one falls under your fingers. You should be able to move between them quite freely, but this will requite you to know the notes on the fingerboard very well.

As orksecurity said there are tons of sites if you just google guitar triads. Then look a few over and study the one that makes the most sense to you. Then go to the next one and so on. There really is no magic you just have to study them and practice. If you can find a music teacher or player who knows his/her stuff they can really help you understand what it's all about. Good luck and good music.

There are lots of references, on the web and elsewhere, that show chords with all their common inversions and alternate fingerings. Are you looking for more than that?