All Levels


iOS Apps by justinguitar

The JustinGuitar Store


Buying things through the links below cost you no more but contribute a little to the site! Thanks, J.


Justinguitar - Free Guitar Lessons

Triad Chord Shapes

The lessons on Chords

Put together a one, three and a five and you get Asian gangs with machine guns!

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!

Triad 1
Triad 2
Triad 3


Part 1 - Videos Lesson on Triad 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 2 - Videos Lesson on Triad Chords


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. 

Part 3 - Videos Lesson on Triad Chords


So where to next???? minor problem....

Now you know your major shapes, you have some homework to do!!!

Make sure you know these major ones well first... then YOU have to work out the minor shapes. Find the 3rd of each shape (that will be the note B in a G triad) and flatten it by one semitone (fret). This will give you the three minor shapes on strings 1 to 3.

If you are struggling with this then you might want to check out Practical Music Theory, that will help with finding the notes, and understanding the chords!

You should then be able to play pretty much any song using your triads. Try it. Be able to find any major or minor chord in and area of the neck and find the next chord nice and close!!

Then once you have that down you should try and find the major triad shapes that live on strings 2,3 and 4. Then find the minor shapes of those!

Advanced ideas...

Then you might want to find then on strings 3,4,5 and 4,5,6 - although you probably won't use those ones as much, you still should learn them if you are an advanced player!



This site runs on DONATIONS.

Please consider paying for lessons that you use if you can afford to.

Thanks, J

Lesson ID: CH-008