top of page
  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Triads in the Blues

A Quick & Dirty Guitar Lesson.

From a theory point of view the following content is fairly advanced. It's covered in Units 8 and 9 of my method, Vertical Truth: Chordal Mechanisms for the Guitar.

However, it's not necessary to understand the theory to make use of the content. I would venture to say that many Blues guys don't understand the theory but the use of these devices is commonplace in the Blues.

So don't worry about not understanding the theory aspect of things. I will link to various resources if you want to go down that rabbit hole but it's not essential to do that to get full use and functionality out of this lesson; just learn it by rote and use what jumps out at you. You can always pursue the theory of it later if you so desire.

The basic concept here is that we are going to apply triads to a 12-Bar Blues Shuffle. Again, don't worry if you don't understand "triads" or "12-Bar Blues" etc. I will provide as much explanation as necessary, as well as fretboard diagrams and a demonstration video within this blog.

So let's put everything in the context of a Blues in A. The triads will be played over a basic shuffle rhythm (see the video below for a demonstration). Over any given root there are many triads that can be used but we will focus on only three (per root).

When the root note of the chord is on the 6th string, 5th fret - that's an "A" - we can play these two triads; F#min and Emin:

Only play the 3 notes (TRI-ad) of the triad; the root is the visual referent.

The two triads are consonant with the root tonality. There is a 3rd triad often used as a passing chord. That means that, in-and-of itself, it is dissonant in relation to the root tonality and must resolve:

The above triads are on the first set of 3 strings; strings 1-2-3. We can play the same triads on the second set of 3 strings:

An alternative fingering:

The above alternative fingering would be used if you want to extend the Emi triad to a 9th chord. Even when playing A9, the root is still not played (see 9th Chords in the Blues):

When the root note of the chord is on the 5th string, 5th fret - that's a "D" - we can play these two triads; Bmin and Amin:

And with the passing chord:

The fingering for the Am/D is common because, many times, it is extended to a D9 (see 9th Chords in the Blues):

They can also be played on the 2nd set of three strings, but this particular position is less common. Nevertheless, here it is:

So with the triads I've given you relative to 2 positions:

  1. Root note on the 6th string, and,

  2. Root note on the 5th string,

You have what you need to apply the triads to the 12-Bar Blues form.

Demonstration Video

More Blues-related lessons:


How about 5 FREE lessons?

The 5-Lesson Foundational Series teaches the Circle of Keys as an organizational mechanism by which you ensure that whatever you learn is drilled in every key in all possible positions. It also gives you a method to find any note, anywhere, without memorizing note names on every string. That is a beautiful thing!

You can download the 5-Lesson Foundational Series right here for free (a $39 value) with no further obligation or commitment. Click on the picture below to get your free PDF:

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!

For more information on site membership see Why Become a Site Member?

1,522 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page