Guitar Age Or A Guitarists Illustrated Primer IX

So you just bought a guitar. Now what? This is the ninth installment in my series of guitar lessons to get you from beginner to virtuoso as quickly as humanly possible. I'm going to show you the basics of Chord Triads and their applications. Learn, practice, play.

Ultimate Guitar
Welcome back champ! I must say that I am impressed with your progress within the past few months; you are really blossoming before my eyes. *wipes tear* It's my allergies damn it! Anyways, keep it up and you will be blazing up and down your axe in no time. This lesson is going to focus on rhythm playing by utilizing small chords known as Triads. When you are playing with a Bassist, sometimes large Barre chords can sound cluttered and can muddy up a song. However, Triads can be used to give your music space to breathe. Theory Alert: A Triad is three notes chosen from a scale (Tri prefix = three). This lesson I will focus on Major and Minor triads which are constructed from the First, Third and Fifth notes of the Major and Minor Scales. I am keeping this very basic because I am sure that most of you ride the short bus to school. Not that I am judging. Ok, yea I am. These are Major Triads with the Root (First Note of the scale) in the bass (on the thickest string used by the chord). They are known as Triads in the Root Position'. For you Theory Mongers, the notes in order are Root (A), Third (C#) and Fifth (E).
e|-----|    e|------|    e|-----|    e|--0--|
b|-----|    b|------|    b|--5--|    b|--2--|
g|-----|    g|--9---|    g|--6--|    g|--2--|
d|--2--|    d|--11--|    d|--7--|    d|-----|
a|--4--|    a|--12--|    a|-----|    a|-----|
E|--5--|    E|------|    E|-----|    E|-----|
*Rocker note: The third one is used in the Verse of Crazy Train. This next set of Major Triads have their Root notes on the thinnest strings and the Thirds are in the bass. These are known as First Inversion Triads'. They read Third (C#), Fifth (E), and Root (A).
e|-----|    e|-----|    e|------|    e|--5--|
b|-----|    b|-----|    b|--10--|    b|--5--|
g|-----|    g|--2--|    g|--9---|    g|--6--|
d|--7--|    d|--2--|    d|--11--|    d|-----|
a|--7--|    a|--4--|    a|------|    a|-----|
E|--9--|    E|-----|    E|------|    E|-----|
*Rocker Note 2: The third chord is also used in the verse to Crazy Train. Bad ass. And if you like Sublime, then the fourth chord will soon become your best friend other than your bong that is. This final set of Major Triads have their roots in between the bass and thinnest strings which comprise the chord. The Fifth is in the bass, and these are known as Second Inversion Triads'. They read Fifth (E), Root (A), Third (C#).
e|------|    e|-----|    e|-----|    e|--9---|
b|------|    b|-----|    b|--2--|    b|--10--|
g|------|    g|--6--|    g|--2--|    g|--9---|
d|--11--|    d|--7--|    d|--2--|    d|------|
a|--12--|    a|--7--|    a|-----|    a|------|
E|--12--|    E|-----|    E|-----|    E|------|
*Rocker Note: The fourth one is used in countless Led Zeppelin songs. Oh yes, and the third one is also used in the Verse to Crazy Train. I am pretty sure that the Verse to Crazy Train started out as a Major Triad exercise and progressed into a casserole of awesomeness. Who knew you could learn so many damn versions of a Major Chord? Fack. Ok, so learn as many of the above as your thirsty mind can handle before you have a seizure. Don't swallow your tongue yet! As is tradition, here come the Minor Triads in the key of A Minor. Actually before we progress, please watch the South Park Episode called The Royal Pudding'. I am Canadian and I found it friggin hilarious. Minor Triads with the Root in the Bass - Root (A), Third (C), Fifth (E)
e|-----|    e|-----|    e|-----|    e|--12--|
b|-----|    b|-----|    b|--5--|    b|--13--|
g|-----|    g|--2--|    g|--5--|    g|--14--|
d|--2--|    d|--3--|    d|--7--|    d|------|
a|--3--|    a|--5--|    a|-----|    a|------|
E|--5--|    E|-----|    E|-----|    E|------|
First Inversion Triads with the Third in the Bass Third (C), Fifth (E), Root (A)
e|-----|    e|-----|    e|------|    e|--5---|
b|-----|    b|-----|    b|--10--|    b|--5---|
g|-----|    g|--2--|    g|--9---|    g|--5---|
d|--7--|    d|--2--|    d|--10--|    d|------|
a|--7--|    a|--3--|    a|------|    a|------|
E|--8--|    E|-----|    E|------|    E|------|
Second Inversion Triads with the Fifth in the Bass Fifth (E), Root (A), Third (C)
e|------|    e|-----|    e|-----|    e|--8---|
b|------|    b|-----|    b|--1--|    b|--10--|
g|------|    g|--5--|    g|--2--|    g|--9---|
d|--10--|    d|--7--|    d|--2--|    d|------|
a|--12--|    a|--7--|    a|-----|    a|------|
E|--12--|    E|-----|    E|-----|    E|------|
You may be wondering why you just learned all of these chords and how to apply them in a song. Well, if you have a bassist playing a static bassline (one that just consists of one note) you don't just have to strum the same chord over and over again on top of it. Say your bassist buddy keeps playing A in a cool rhythm, you can play any of the above Triads in interesting sequences to create movement within the song. I want you to really think about these chords and how they relate to the Major and Minor Chords I have already shown you. The above triads are actually small pieces of chords that you already know. Also, try to write chord progressions with these triads as such:
e|--5--|    e|--5--|    e|--7--|    e|--5--|
b|--7--|    b|--5--|    b|--8--|    b|--7--|
g|--7--|    g|--6--|    g|--7--|    g|--7--|
d|-----|    d|-----|    d|-----|    d|-----|
a|-----|    a|-----|    a|-----|    a|-----|
E|-----|    E|-----|    E|-----|    E|-----|
I can't keep writing out chord progressions for you, so the rest is in your hands. Stop being so lazy you slacker and go learn some songs! To give you a head start, listen to the following bands that use Triads frequently: Red Hot Chili Peppers (Stadium Arcadium specifically) The Strokes (Check out Under the Cover of Darkness from their album Angles) Led Zeppelin Jimi Hendrix Ozzy (The Randy Rhodes era specifically) Until next time little pupils!

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    too bad you didn't say what's the difference between minor and major triads.
    Mezmerus: I know what you mean, but I try to keep the theory to a minimum. For those interested, I will explain chord theory in a later lesson.
    nice lessons mate, played trumpet for years and for no apparent reason woke up about a month ago with an urgent need to play guitar.... your lessons are showing me the way, cheers!!
    Thanks for the triads, but how do I use them? I don't play in a band( at least not yet) but i'm not sure how to use these triads.
    why dose that stupid simble keep showing up in your writing its annoying and it makes it very hard to follow