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II-V-I voicings for jazz guitar

        

Major triad chords (Maj) & inversions | Guitar fretboard diagrams & voicings

Chord formulas chartTriads are a combination of three-note chords. They are generally the first chords to learn for a beginner guitarist. They are, in a first step, learned using open-position chords. But playing and learning triads on all over the guitar fretboard will expand your musical and comping knowledge.

Triad qualities

Triads are made up of a root (1), a third which can be major (3) or minor (b3) and a fifth which can be perfect (5), diminished (b5) or augmented (#5). Providing four qualities of triads :

  • Major triad : root - major third and perfect fifth.
  • Minor triad : root - minor third and perfect fifth.
  • Diminished triad : root - minor third and diminished fifth.
  • Augmented triad : root - major third and augmented fifth.

Symbols 

  • Major triad : Generally, no quality symbol is added.
  • Minor triad :"m" or "min".
  • Diminished triad : "dim" or a degree sign "°".
  • Augmented triad : "aug" or a plus sign "+".

Major triad chords - Charts and guitar fretboard diagrams

This lesson is focused on major triads. They are built by stacking the root, the major third and the perfect fifth of the major scale. As you can see in the chart below, the C major triad is made up of C (root), E (major third) and G (perfect fifth). It's your turn to try to build major triad chords in twelve keys.

C major scale C D E F G A B
Formula 1 2 (9) 3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) 7
C major triad 1 X 3 X 5 X X

 

Root positions and inversions

An inverted chord is a chord whose notes are arranged so that a note other than the root is in the lowest voice. In other words, the notes of the chord are in a different order.

In the following diagrams you will four root positions related to the third, fourth, fifth and sixth strings. Each root position occurs two inverted chords with the third or the fifth in the bass. That gives 12 closed positions for one chord. Please note that closed guitar chords are those where the root and the inverted positions, fit within the space of one octave.You have to practice and master these twelve positions in twelve keys. You also have to be able to name each chord that you play.

Major triad chords | Basses on 6th string | Root position and inversions

This three guitar diagrams show you three ways to play major triads with basses on the 6th string.

Root position  R 3 5
1st inversion (third in the bass) 3 5 R
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) 5 R 3

 

For example, to play the A major chord using the root position, you must place your pinky finger on the sixth string at the fifth fret (root). Place the ring finger on the fifth string at the fourth fret (third) and then, the index finger on the fourth string at the second fret (fifth). To play the A major chord with the first inverted position (third in the bass) you must put your third finger (ring finger) on the sixth string at the ninth fret, then you only have to bar the fifth and the fourth strings at the seventh fret with the index finger to get the fifth and the root. The second inverted chord is obtained by placing the second finger on the sixth string at the twelfth fret (5), the third finger on the fifth string at the twelfth fret too and the first finger on the fourth string at the eleventh fret.

Root in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 6th string

Third in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 6th string 2

Fifth in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 6th string 3

Major triad chords | Basses on 5th string | Root position and inversions

Here are three ways to play major triads with basses on the 5th string.

Root position  R 3 5
1st inversion (third in the bass) 3 5 R
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) 5 R 3

 

 

Root in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 5th string

Third in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 5th string 2

Fifth in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 5th string 3

Major triad chords | Basses on 4th string | Root position and inversions

Three ways to play major triads with basses on the 4th string.

Root position  R 3 5
1st inversion (third in the bass) 3 5 R
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) 5 R 3

 

Root in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 4th string

Third in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 4th string 2

fifth in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 4th string 3

An to finish, three ways to play major triads with basses on the 3th string.

Root position  R 3 5
1st inversion (third in the bass) 3 5 R
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) 5 R 3

Major triad chords | Basses on 3rd string | Root position and inversions

Root in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 3rd string

third in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 3rd string 2

fifth in the bass

Major triad chord bass on 3rd string 3

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Last edited: 16/04/2017

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