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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Quick & Dirty Major Triads

Triads are 3-note chords constructed by stacking the root, 3rd and 5th of the Major Scale.

Any note but the root can be altered thereby creating a different type of triad.

There are 4 types of triads: Major (M), Minor (m), Augmented (+) & Diminished (o).

Commensurate with the Quick & Dirty concept, this blog concerns Major triads only.

In addition to the 4 types there are 3 voicings. The term, "voicing" refers to the order in which the notes are stacked from low to high. The notes of a triad can be rearranged to create inversions by raising the bass note an octave.

These triads are played on 3 adjacent strings. There are four 3-string sets.

Commensurate with the Quick & Dirty concept, this blog concerns the first two 3-string sets only. The vast percentage of the triads you'll encounter in popular music occur on the 1st two 3-string sets.

There are 3 triad shapes (voicings) for each string set. The circled dot is the root:

First set of 3 strings: 123

Second set of 3 strings: 234

Note: Play the 3 strings of the triad only; they can be played at any fret.

1) Memorize and drill the above shapes - group them in pairs thusly:

2) Memorize which note in the shape is the root; the circled dot is the root.

Notice the pair on the right have the root on the same string - the 3rd string is the root. That's why they're a pair; they are a different voicing of the same triad.

Likewise the pair in the middle have the same root; it's on the 2nd string.

The pair on the left have the root on the 1st string and the 4th string, respectively. Even though the root is on a different string, the notes on the 1st string and the 4th string are octaves. Therefore the letter name of the two roots is the same. Thus the two shapes are a pair.

3) Put all 3 pairs (6 triad shapes) in the same key. That means all the root notes have the same letter name.

Note: If you don't know the note names on the neck, now's the time to learn! Download this 5-lesson series for free - no site membership or sign up is required. Learn to find any note, anywhere without having to memorize note names on every string! It's so easy I include a video of 7-year-old doing it.


We're now going to put these Major triads into a couple of cliché progressions - the technical term is cadences. They will be given in the key of G but should be drilled in every key. The first one is the I - IV - I cadence:

The second cadence, again given in the key of G, is I - IV - V - I:


What I've given you here is a very small portion - the Quick & Dirty version - of my lesson series on triads. For more information on this lesson series, click on the image below:


Sign up as a Master Guitar School site member - it's free! - and get access to dozens of free site-based lessons, a monthly newsletter that contains a brand-new free lesson, and DEEP discounts on lesson series downloads - plus more!

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