Triad chord shapes guitar

84 Triad Chords | Guitar Diagrams | Open and Close Voicings | Root Positions & Inversions

Triad chord shapes guitar

Mastering triads on the guitar is necessary for any guitarist who wants to expand his fretboard and theory knowledge.

These chords are not really considered as jazz chords because of their basic sound, but they can be efficient tools for comping and chord soloing. Indeed, the strong point of these chords is the simplicity of learning and playing.

You will find in this guitar lesson 84 ways of playing major, minor, diminished, augmented triads using root and inverted voicings in close and open positions.

What Are triads ?

Triad chords, as their name implies, are made up of three notes. They are grouped into 4 categories according to wether they are minor, major, augmented or diminished. 

  • Minor triads are built with a root (1), a minor third (b3) and a perfect fifth (5).
  • Major triads are built with a root (1), a major third (3) and a perfect fifth (5).
  • Diminished triads are built with a root (1), a minor third (b3) and a flat fifth (b5).
  • Augmented triads are built with a root (1), a major third (3) and an augmented fifth (#5).

What Are Close Position Chords ?

Close voiced chords are chord played with all its tones as close together as they can be. If the notes are spread out, then it is called "open position." An open position chord has some "air" between one or more of its tones. Please note that this guitar lesson contains only "close positions".

What Are Open Triads?

Open triads are built by moving the second note of a close chord up on octave. Thus giving new voicings.

What Are Root Position Chords ?

The tones of a root position chords are in the right order, for example, with a major triad : root - third and fifth. 

What Are Inverted Chords ?

The tones of inverted chords are in a different order than the root positions. Inverted chords don't have the root note in the bass, instead they have the third or the fifth as the lowest note of the chord shape.

Here is an example with the C major chord  built with C-E-G, respectively the root (1), the major third (3) and the fifth (5). The bass note (the lowest note) is the root. This is the basic position also called "root position". This chord can be inversed in two different ways. One with the third in the bass and one with the fifth in the bass. Thus giving two inverted voicings.

Root position  C E G
1st inversion (third in the bass) E G C
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) G C E

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Triads On Guitar

How To Play Major Triads On Guitar?

Major triads are made up of a root (R), a major third (3) and a perfect fifth (5). Here are 12 neck diagrams to play them on the guitar, including 4 root positions with basses on the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd strings and their related inverted chords.

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

The next shapes show how to play open major triads on guitar.

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

How To Play Minor Triads On Guitar?

Minor triads are built with the following interval pattern : root (R), minor third (b3) and perfect fifth (5). The 12 following diagrams includes 4 root positions with basses on the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd strings and 8 inverted chords.

Root position  R b3 5
1st inversion (third in the bass) b3 5 R
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) 5 R b3

The next diagrams show how look open minor triads on guitar.

Root position (root in the bass)  R 5 b3
1st inversion (third in the bass) b3 R 5
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) 5 b3 R

How To Play Diminished Triads On Guitar?

Diminished triads are built with a root (R), a minor third (b3) and a diminished fifth (b5). Here are 12 guitar diagrams including 4 root positions with basses on the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd strings and 8 inverted chords.

Root position  R b3 b5
1st inversion (third in the bass) b3 b5 R
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) b5 R b3

The next diagrams show how to play diminished triads on guitar in open positions

Root position (root in the bass)  R b5 b3
1st inversion (third in the bass) b3 R b5
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) b5 b3 R

How To Play Augmented Triads On Guitar?

Augmented triads are built with a root (R), a major third (3) and an augmented fifth (#5). Here are 12 diagrams including 4 root positions with basses on the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd strings and 8 inverted chords to play on the guitar.

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

The last three guitar shapes show how to play open augmented triads on guitar.

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

 

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