23 Sep

In this lesson I go through all inversions for the most popular major triad ‘shapes’ on guitar.

The theory behind triads is quite simple: a major triad is basically the 1st, 3rd and 5th note of a major scale. If analysed in intervals:  from the root I will have a first note that is a major 3rd apart and a second note that is a perfect 5th apart. As an example, for the key of C major (C,D,E,F,G,A,B)  my C major triad will be C,E,G (C-E major 3rd, C-G perfect 5th).

If these notes (or ‘voices’) are contained within an octave we call this ‘close’ or ‘closed’ position, as opposite as ‘spread’ position (more than an octave). We will see the triads in Spread Position in another lesson.


When the triad is in its Root-3rd-5th configuration we call it ‘root position’ – C,E,G

If we move the root up an octave we have the first inversion – 3rd, 5th, Root – E,G,C

If we then move the 3rd up an octave we have the second inversion – 5th, Root, 3rd – G,C,E


It is really simple to find other (minor, augmented, diminished) triads from the major triad.

Major triad – R,3,5 – C,E,G

Minor triad – R,m3,5 – C,Eb,G (Lower the 3rd one 1/2 step)

Augmented triad – R, 3, #5 – C,E,G# (Raise the 5th one 1/2 step)

Diminished triad – R,m3,dim5 – C,Eb,Gb (Lower both the 3rd and 5th one 1/2 step)

Download –here– the page with all the inversions on a printable PDF file or click the image below.

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Gianni Chiarello has gained a reputation as an extremely versatile musician, having professional credits as a guitarist, bassist, arranger and producer. His music is a preconception-free mix of Jazz, Funk, Blues, R&B and contemporary elements, influenced by . Born in Italy, in his forming years he performed with some of his country's finest musicians working towards developing different styles, from rock to pop, funk and jazz. In 1999 he moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music, on a scholarship program, where he graduated with a Degree "Magna cum laude" in Professional Music, studying under the direction of Mick Goodrick, Hal Crook, Brett Willmott and Dave Samuels, also playing in the Boston area and along the States' east coast as a freelance musician. Alongside studio work, he has been performing with, and leading as Musical Director, numerous bands and orchestras, comping for celebrities from the sixties like The Platters, The Coasters, Bobby Arvon, The Diamonds, Vegas – Broadway entertainers like Tony Tillman, Kenny James, Hal Fraiser, Lorna Luft, Ben Vereen, Susan Anton and Roy Walker. Furthermore his work entailed musical theatre style production reviews, encompassing shows such as “Smokey Joe’s Café”, “We Will Rock You”, “Starlight Express”, “Grease” and “Rent”. After relocating to the UK in 2005, has performed, amongst others with Robbie McIntosh (John Mayer, Paul Mccartney) Jeremy Stacey (Tom Jones, Sheryl Crow), Jason Rebello (Sting, Jeff Beck), Iain Ballamy and many others. His latest instructional eBooks can now be purchased online: “Contemporary solo guitar” (2008) and “Contemporary blues soloing” (2009) “Contemporary Blues Chords and Comping” (2011)

3 thoughts on “Triads

  1. Yes, it’s very important for every guitar beginner to know and understand everything about popular major triad shapes on guitar. It’s the first time I visit your blog… a really useful one!

    • there isn’t a time frame as such, I think if you feel you have mastered the major forms, and you want to explore further, that’s the right time!

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