Major Triads For Guitar - Diagrams And Theory

A Major Triad is a three-note chord consisting of the root note (1), the major third (3), and the perfect fifth (5). It has a bright and happy sound, making it a crucial element in various musical genres. This guitar lesson will help you master them using different voicings (close and open).

What Are The Four Main Types of Triads?

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). Thus giving four qualities of triads :

  • Major triads are built of three notes : root, major third and perfect fifth.
  • Minor triads contain a root, a minor third and a perfect fifth.
  • Diminished triads are built with root, minor third and diminished fifth.
  • Augmented triads are built with root, major third and augmented fifth.


    • Generally, no quality symbol is added
    • "m" or "min"
    • "dim" or a degree sign "°"
    • "aug" or a plus sign "+" 

Major Triad Chords - Charts and Guitar Fretboard Diagrams

How To Build A Major Triad?

Major triads are basically 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). 

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

Major Triads | Close Voicings | Root Position and Inversions

What's An Inverted Chord?

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 find 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.

What Is A Closed Chord?

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.

The four guitar diagrams below show you how to play close voiced major triads with basses on the 6th, 5th, 4th and 3rd string.

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

Open Voiced Major Triads

What Are Open Voiced Triads?

Since major triads are built with 3 notes, it is possible to drop the second highest note (the middle note) of a major close voiced triad up an octave to produce what will call a drop 2 voicing referred to as open voiced triad. It is a very much appreciated technique by composers and arrangers.

This concept can be applied to any chords as minor, major, diminished and augmented. The chart below show you three major open voiced triads in connection with the three guitar diagrams below.

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


Let's take an example with a close C major chord. It is built with a root (C), a third (E) and a fifth (G). By dropping the second highest note (E) up an octave, we obtain a new sequence of notes : C, G and E respectively the root, the fifth and the third. This is a C major open voiced triad chord. Bar 1

In bar 2 the second highest note of the first inversion of C major is dropped up an octave. That gives E (third), C (root) and G (fifth), referred to as an open C major chord third in the bass (C/E).

As you can see in bar 3 , the second highest note of the second inversion of C major is dropped. Thus giving G (fifth), E (third) and C (root). This is a C major open voiced triad with the fifth in the bass. (C/G).

Relation Between Chords and Major Triads

The chart below show what notes are highlighted when a major triad is played over a specific degree of a given chord. Example with the first row of the table : when playing a a major triad starting on the second of C major (D) we highlight the 9, #11 and 13 of C.

major 2 9  #11  13 C D
major 5 5  7  9  C G
major 3 3  13  1 C F
MAJ7 5 5  7  9 CM7 G
MAJ7 2 9  #11  13 CM7 D
MAJ7 3 3  #5  7 CM7 (#5) E
min b3 b3  5  b7 Cm Eb
min 2 9  #11 13 Cm D
min 4 11  13  1 Cm F
min 7 7  9  11 Cm Bb
min 5 5  M7  9 Cm(Maj7) G
min M7 M7  b3  #11 Cm(Maj7) B
min7 2 9  #11  13 Cm7 D
min7 b3 b3  5  b7 Cm7 Eb
min7 4 11  13  1 Cm7 F
min7 b7 b7  9  11 Cm7 Bb
7 2 9  #11  13 C7 D
7(sus4) 4 11  13  1 C7sus4 F
7(sus4) b7 b7  9  11 C7sus4 Bb
7#9 #9 #9  5  b7 C7#9 Eb
7b9 6 13  b9  3 C713b9 A
7alt #4 #11  b7  b9 C7alt F#
7alt #5 b13  1  #9 C7alt Ab
m7b5 2 9  #11  13 Cm7b5 D
m7b5 4 11  13  1 Cm7b5 F
m7b5 6 b13  1  b3 Cm7b5 Ab
m7b5 b7 b7  9  11 Cm7b5 Bb


Upper Structure Major Triads

Here below you can see (and hear) what tones are highlighted when playing the twelve major triads over the same bass note (C). The lower stave show the bass note (C) whereas the higher stave show the major triads. Example with the second bar : playing a Db major triad (Db-F-Ab) over C brings out the b9, 11 and b13 (or #5) of C.

Upper structure major triads

PDF Methods

  • Guitar Scale Dictionary

    This E-book is a printable PDF method including over 700 scale diagrams and formula charts for guitarists.
  • 30 Groovy Jazz Guitar Licks

    This downloadable package contains a PDF WITH audio files giving access to 30 groovy guitar phrases mixing jazz, blues and funky licks for beginners.
  • Guitar Chord Dictionary

    This PDF eBook provides over 550 guitar chord shapes. This is the perfect reference guide to understand how chords are built and how to play them on the guitar neck.
  • 172 Arpeggio Shapes For Guitar

    This printable PDF is a method dedicated to guitarists of all styles who want to learn the most important types of arpeggios.
  • 126 Triad Chord Shapes

    This handbook for guitar players is intended both for teachers and students. It includes 126 guitar shapes for mastering triads.
  • 30 Minor Arpeggio Licks

    This package includes a printable PDF method containing 30 exercises with tabs, staves and audio files for practicing minor arpeggios on guitar.
  • II V I Bundle - 170 Exercises

    This bundle contains 4 PDF methods for a total of 170 exercises with tabs, staves, analysis & audio files for practicing scales, arpeggios licks & chords over the 2-5-1 progression.
  • Diatonic Licks Bundle

    This package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
  • 30 Smooth Jazz Guitar Licks

    In this package you'll get a printable PDF Method with tabs, notation, analysis, scale shapes and audio files for practicing 30 smooth jazz guitar licks.
  • 40 II V I Jazz Guitar Licks

    This pdf method for guitar contains fourteen 2 5 1 jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
  • 50 II-V-I voicings

    This printable PDF guitar method provides 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab and staves for learning major 2-5-1 chord voicings.
  • 40 Minor 2 5 1 Chord Voicings

    This PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
  • 40 Minor II V I Licks

    This guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor 2 5 1 jazz patterns.
  • 40 Mixolydian Jazz Guitar Lick

    PDF guitar method with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
  • 40 Minor Jazz Guitar Licks

    This printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
  • 40 Major Jazz Guitar Licks

    Printable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
  • Guitar Walking Bass Lines

    This jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
  • 101 Dominant Arpeggio Patterns

    This printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
  • 49 Essential Jazz Lines

    This printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians. Tab, standard notation, audio files & analysis.
  • 11 Jazz Blues Studies

    11 jazz blues chord studies with tabs, standard notation, analysis, and audio recordings and PDF.
  • 10 Easy Fingerstyle Blues

    This PDF with Tabs and audio files provides 10 easy acoustic fingerstyle blues guitar studies for kids and beginners.
  • 25 Altered Jazz Guitar Lines

    This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
  • 40 Blues Dominant Patterns

    This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis, audio files and scale charts.
  • Mastering Pentatonic Scales

    This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
  • 25 Soul Jazz Guitar Licks

    You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson. These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
  • 25 Diminished Patterns

    This eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
  • 6 Tritone substitution licks

    This Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.
  • 10 Minor 7 Arpeggio Patterns

    This printable PDF eBook offers 10 easy minor 7 arpeggio patterns with its related YouTube video for beginner guitarists.
  • 10 Easy Major 7 Arpeggio Licks

    This is a printable PDF for beginner jazz guitar players providing 10 easy licks to practice major 7 arpeggios.
  • 10 Chord Melody Lines

    Within this package, you'll discover a set of ten chord melody exercises for beginners. Printable PDFaudio files, a backing track, and a link to the associated YouTube video.
  • 10 Minor Blues Scale Licks

    You'll find here a PDF with 10 easy jazz guitar licks to practice the minor blues scale on guitar.
  • Guitar Arpeggios Poster

    This giant guitar poster for any guitar player, student or instructor contains colorful arpeggio diagrams. Giant size 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90 cm).
  • Guitar Scales Poster 24*36

    Guitar posters and wall art with eighteen neck diagrams representing the most used scales in music.
  • Jazz Guitar Chords Poster

    This printed color posters contains 63 guitar chord diagrams for jazz players, students, teachers and schools.
  • Guitar Modes Poster

    Guitar reference posters and wall art about modes of the major scale for guitar teachers, students and music schools.
  • Melodic Minor Modes Poster

    Educative and decorative giant guitar poster with neck diagrams, interval names about the seven modes of the melodic minor scale.
  • Pentatonic Scale Guitar Poster

    This guitar reference poster shows the positions and intervals of the major pentatonic scale.
  • Guitar Notes Poster

    This is a giant poster showing the notes on the guitar fret board and their positions on a musical staff.
  • Triads Guitar Poster

    This reference poster show the positions and intervals of the main triads used on guitar. This is a useful tool for guitarists, teacher and students.
  • Four Archtop Guitars Poster

    This is a decorative poster with four archtop jazz guitars. Several size and colors in landscape format available on Teespring and redbubble.
  • Intervals On Guitar - Poster

    This giant poster for guitar provides neck diagrams with interval positions.

Last edited: 2024-01-18


  • Gianni
    • 1. Gianni On 2020-12-30
    thank you

Add a comment




Free pdf guitar