Practical Inversion Excersices. Part 1

A look at simple inversion shapes up and down the neck.

Ultimate Guitar
Hey, For this lesson i'm going to keep it real simple, so if your an arpeggio master probably best to move on, but this is still a pretty valuable warm of for experienced players looking to cover the basics in an interesting way. Lets start with C, a nice note, I'm sure you know that we could build a major scale on it using notes that go in an order of tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone (DEFGAB) So we have our C Major Scale (CDEFGAB) still with me? cool. Now we can make a C Major chord using the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of this scale (CEG) cool, Now we have what is the first thing people usualy get taught on guitar, the C MAJOR chord. we got there in the end as any beginer guitarist how to play a C and they will usualy play this :
and thats fair enough, but if your a cluey sort, you might realise that C Major has 3 notes, and here we are playing all 6 strings of the guitar, whats up with that? well only 3 notes are being played but some more than others, from low to high we have E C E G C E, cool, and great for getting max amount of sound out of your guitar, I mean, if you can use a string, why not hey? but it is always good to have tools up your sleeve, if you play just 3 strings you can gt a nice pure C chord with equal volume for each note (in the C above, there are 3 times as many e's being played as g's) I'm going to show you 12 shapes that you should play every day, they are the 3 closed inversions of c major on 4 different combinations of strings an inversion simply means the order of the notes from low to high, CEG is a normal C chord, if you were to play the C an octave higher and have EGC that would be called the first inversion as E is now the bottom note, when g is on the bottom (GCE) that is a second inversion Here you go,
C Major
-9-------------- These are all CEG going from low to high
C Major 1st Inversion
-12-----------------These are all EGC going from low to high
C Major 2nd Inversion
-3-----------------These are all GEC going from low to high
You may recognize some familiar chord shapes. like the last 2 shapes of the 2nd inversion, look like an A shape and a D shape. and they are, the A shape is 3 frets up from where it normaly would be (A# - B - C) and the d shape is 2 semitones down from where it would normaly be (Db - C). you can move all of these inversions up and down the neck anywhere you want, wherever you put the root note (bottom note in normal major, top for 1st Inv and middle for 2nd Inv) you will get that note as a major chord. ie:
---                                               ---
---                                               ----
---                                               ----
-5- (Cmaj) moved up 2 frets to   -7--  becomes Dmajor
-7-                                             -9--
-8-                                            -10-
AWESOME! you can now play all the closed inversions of all the major chords, finger pick 'em, arppegiate them, use them in solos, play your favorite songs in a whole new way... but whats next? in one easy move you can learn all the minor, diminished and augmented triad inversion shapes too! For a Minor triad all you need to do is take a Major triad, Take it's 3rd degree or middle note (bottom note for 1st Inv and top note for 2nd Inv) and move it DOWN A SEMITONE (or fret) IE:
C Minor Triad
-9-------------- These are all CEbG going from low to high
C Minor Triad 1st Inversion
-11-----------------These are all EbGC going from low to high
C Minor Triad 2st Inversion
-3-----------------These are all GEbC going from low to high
Awesome, with the majors and minors down you should be able to create awesome new ways to voice your favorite chord progressions and think of some unique ways to play lead over them. Feel free to mash the shapes together into new chord forms, sweep patterns and anything else you can think of, rules are there to be broken. the last thing to do is lean these shapes for augmented and diminished triads. Augmented triads are simply a Mjaor triad with a raised (by a semitone) 5th while a diminished triad is simply a Minor triad with a Lowered (by a semitone) 5th. This gives them a much more jarring sound than the major and minor chords, making them great for metal licks, jazz and waking your parents up at 3am. Here are the shapes for the Augmented Triads:
C Aug
-9-------------- These are all CEG# going from low to high
C Aug 1st Inversion
-12-----------------These are all EG#C going from low to high
C Aug 2nd Inversion
-4-----------------These are all G#EC going from low to high
here are the shapes for the Diminished triads
C Diminished Triad
------------  -2--
---------  7---4--
-9-------------- These are all CEbGb going from low to high
C Diminished Triad 1st Inversion
-10-- 4---13--------
- 9---6------------
-11-----------------These are all EbGbC going from low to high
C Diminished Triad 2st Inversion
-1---10-- 4--------
-2-----------------These are all GbEbC going from low to high
Notice how these Dim shapes all look real similar? well there is more to the magic of the diminished chord we wont go into this lesson, for now, just lean these shapes and i'll be back with a new lesson soon on diminished chords and the wonders contained within. Also if you feel daunted by learning all the shapes, just lean the major ones and remember the formula of what finger to move to get the others... it's that easy... keep on rocking!

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    In some of your examples, you list the bottom-most C, E/Eb, G triads as being a fret higher than would apply to the tuning. I didn't notice much else, I mostly skimmed them. Good article either way. Important stuff to learn, you made it fairly simple.