Guitar Triads

Guitar Triads: A Brief Introduction

Triads are the building blocks of music. This might sound like a load of old tosh, but it’s true.

Triads are one of the fundamental components in Western musical culture, and they’re one of the simplest formations when we talk about chords. But at the same time they allow us to build very complex chords!

The thing is, when we start playing guitar, we don’t think about these things. We just want to make music as fast as possible, right? So what happens? We learn some chords and then try to jam along with our favorite songs. But sometimes it doesn’t sound quite right—the notes clash! And that’s because we haven’t been taught how to build chords properly.

But don’t worry! I’m here to help you learn Guitar Triads fast so that way you can start playing like a pro in no time. In this article we’re going to explain how to play triads on guitar and why they’re so important for learning how to play this instrument.

What’s a Guitar Triad?

The most basic and simple chords are called triads and are made up of three different notes that sound at the same time which are composed as follows:

1. Root or First: Root is the most important note of the triad.

2. Third: It is formed from a major or minor third interval from the root. It´s the 3rd degree of the scale.

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3. Fifth: This will be the one that results from a perfect fifth interval, starting from the root.

Theory Behind Chord

Chords are sets of two or more notes played at the same time. The most basic chords are made up of three notes, built around your root note.

Chords can have dozens of notes, though the result might be too dissonant. Building them is easy once you understand the basics. But to do that, you first have to know what intervals are.

Intervals are the relationship between two notes that you hear in music. Being seven natural musical notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B), we identify intervals of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, which repeat the first in a higher pitch, and we call “octave” Between those notes, there can be a tone or two semitones, just as the figure explains:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is triad_chord_picture_guitar.png

The chords vary depending on the combination of intervals, which depend on which tone or semitone you are playing.

Back to triads:

The third can be Major or Minor

Major third (3) → 2 tones

Minor third (b3) → 1 and a half tones

The fifth can be:

Perfect (5) → 3 and a half tones

Diminished (b5) → 3 tones

Augmented (#5) → 4 tones

Even the slightest change in an interval has a noticeable effect on a chord. So, there are four types of intervals, which define 4 types of chords or triads: Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented.

How to Practice Triad Chords in Guitar?

The best way to start practicing and becoming familiar with triad chords on the guitar is to play them over and over again. All of their notes together and separately, to incorporate their sound and the sound of these intervals, tones, and semitones. To get you started, here’s a chart of the simplest chord positions.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is triad_chords_for_guitar.png


Try to identify the 1st, 3rd, and 5th in each, and try moving your fingers one tone (or fret) to the right or left to see how it sounds.

Start with the simplest chords of all, for example, A. Try moving the 3rd to a lower fret and you will create a minor chord. Then try moving it to a higher fret to see what it sounds like. Do the same with the 5th. If you’re excited about it, look up one of your favorite songs and see if it uses any of these chords. By playing the music you like you will be able to learn and incorporate the theory in a natural and fun way.

Final Thoughts

The triad can be a learning aid for the beginning musician as well as the professional musician. When we learn the first chords on the guitar, they are triads; but if we go a bit further we can explore concepts like triads with changed bass or also triad layering.

The use of triads is found in almost all musical styles, from classical music compositions to the most modern jazz, through pop, rock, and many other styles.

Therefore, deepening its study and practice can give us many tools and a deep understanding of music. In addition, it is possible to do it in a dynamic and fun way, without the need to delve into hard or academic theory, which, of course, there is and a lot of. There are triads for all tastes!

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