Understanding Guitar Triads

author: hounddogmusic12 date: 06/19/2009 category: chords
rating: 9.6 / votes: 25 
triads are a great tool for a guitarist for both playing rhythym and lead, and they are fairly easy to understand. A triad chord is any chord consisting of 3 notes First... I'm going to teach you how to build a major chord. Major chords consist of the 1st, or the root note, the 3rd, and the 5th notes of the root's major scale. Since I am focusing the lesson on D triads I will give you the notes of the D major scale.
1    2    3    4    5    6    7
D    E    F#   G    A    B    C#
Take the 1rst, 3rd, and 5th or the D, F#, and A, and those are the notes that make up a D major chord. Now, that we have a little theory out of the way, lets learn how to play major triads on each consecutive grouping of 3 strings and how to easily move through the inversions. There are 3 triad shapes that you will need to learn.. D major triads
"D" shape       "A" shape           "E" shape

e--2--  3rd      e--5--  5th       e--10--  Root
b--3--  Root     b--7--  3rd       b--10--  5th
g--2--  5th      g--7--  Root      g--11--  3rd
d-----           d-----            d------
a-----           a-----            a------
E-----           E-----            E------
To move these shapes up the strings you simply take the highest pitched note, in these examples the high notes are on the 1st string (the high E), and drop it an octave... To do that you move it from the high E string to the D string... And you get...
"D" shape         "A" shape               "E" shape

e-----             e-----                  e------
b--3--  Root       b--7--  3rd             b--10--  5th
g--2--  5th        g--7--  Root            g--11--  3rd
d--4--  3rd        d--7--  5th             d--12--  Root
a-----             a-----                  a------
E-----             E-----                  E------
And now the highest pitched note is on the 2nd string, so you drop it an octave to the 5th string
"D" shape          "A" shape               "E" shape

e-----              e-----                  e------
b-----              b-----                  b------
g--2-- 5th          g--7-- Root             g--11--  3rd
d--4-- 3rd          d--7-- 5th              d--12--  Root
a--5-- Root         a--9-- 3rd              a--12--  5th
E-----              E-----                  E------
And last but not least... Drop the high note from the 3rd string down an octave to the 6th string and you get...
"D" shape           "A" shape               "E" shape

e-----               e------                 e------
b-----               b------                 b------
g-----               g------                 g------
d--4-- 3rd           d--7--- 5th             d--12--  Root
a--5-- Root          a--9--- 3rd             a--12--  5th
E--5-- 5th           E--10-- Root            E--14--  3rd
It is a good idea to try and learn the notes so you can easily change the chord from a major to a minor, or whatever other chord you want to play. Also helps when going from a triad shape into a scale run. Usually a small alteration to the major chord changes the chord name... For example, if you drop the 3rd back a half step, or you may hear it called "flat the 3rd" and leave the Root note and the 5th the same, then you are playing a minor chord. The notes of the D major scale again(as a quick reference)
1   2   3   4   5   6   7  
D   E   F#  G   A   B   C#

Common triads:                      Formulas:

D major                        1, 3, 5    or  D, F#, A
D minor                        1, b3, 5   or  D, F,  A
D diminished                   1, b3, b5  or  D, F,  Ab
D augmented                    1, 3, #5   or  D, F#, A#
D sus4                         1, 4, 5    or  D, G,  A
D sus2                         1, 2, 5    or  D, E,  A
Now lets look at how to alter the major triads to get each of these triad shapes. I'm only going to show you one shape, I think you can figure out the rest of the inversions
  Dmaj      Dm         Ddim        Daug        Dsus4        Dsus2
e--2-- 3   --1-- b3    --1-- b3    --2-- 3rd   --3-- 4th    --0-- 2nd
b--3-- R   --3-- Root  --3-- Root  --3-- Root  --3-- Root   --3-- Root
g--2-- 5   --2-- 5th   --1-- b5    --3-- #5    --2-- 5th    --2-- 5th
d-----     -----       -----       -----       -----        -----
a-----     -----       -----       -----       -----        -----
E-----     -----       -----       -----       -----        -----
That's pretty much it, hope it helps. This is my first lesson, please let me know how I did, and if this lesson was helpful. Or if you have any questions feel free to post a comment.
More hounddogmusic12 lessons:
+ Modes And Diatonic Chord Progressions The Basics 07/21/2010
+ DADGAD Tuning The Basics 09/14/2009
+ Chord Building 101 Chords 08/25/2009
+ Playing With Triads For Beginners 07/13/2009
+ Learning The Fretboard Chords 06/22/2009
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