Triads on Guitar – Triad Formulas

By October 3, 2016Guitar, Lessons

Learn the triad shapes and how they apply to the guitar neck!

What is a triad?

A triad is a three note chord.

In music, one note is just a note, two notes is an “interval” and three notes make a triad (simplest form of a chord). There are four types of triads: major, minor, augmented and diminished.

Major Triads

A major triad is constructed R-3-5. In other words, pick a root note, then go up a third to get the second note, then go up a fifth from the root to get your third note.

A C major triad has the notes C-E-G. You find this by writing out the musical alphabet:

A-A#-B-C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#

Start at your root (we’ll use C), go up a third (equivalent to four half steps) to get E, and go up a fifth from C (seven half steps) to get G.

Minor Triads

Know your major triad formula (R-3-5) because as long as you can find major triads, you can find any other triad quickly!

The formula for a minor triad is R-b3-5.

If your major chord is R-3-5, all you have to do is flat the third of any major chord and it becomes minor.

So, C major (C-E-G) becomes C minor when you change it to C-Eb-G.

Augmented Triads

Know your major triad formula (R-3-5) because as long as you can find major triads, you can find any other triad quickly!

The formula for an augmented triad is R-3-#5.

If your major chord is R-3-5, all you have to do is sharp (augment) the fifth of any major chord and it becomes augmented.

So, C major (C-E-G) becomes C augmented when you change it to C-E-G#.

Diminished Triads

Know your major triad formula (R-3-5) because as long as you can find major triads, you can find any other triad quickly!

The formula for a diminished triad id R-3-b5.

If your major chord is R-3-5, all you have to do is flat (diminish) the fifth of any major chord and it becomes diminished.

So, C major (C-E-G) becomes C diminished when you change it to C-E-Gb.

Ready to learn more about chord theory? Check out the CAGED course!

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