The Triad



In this section you'll learn how to figure out and play any triad-(chord made up of three notes).

All guitar theory is simply a system of measuring how all the notes, and scales are related to each other.

Everything has a formula.

So the first formula to remember is this- whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half

(W, W, H, W, W, W, H).

That's the formula of whole and half steps needed to create a C Major scale.

Lets break it down even more.

Step 1: Do you remember the order of notes? Grab a piece of paper. In the top left corner, draw a C. Now as you travel right, draw the notes in order following the formula of whole and half steps until you arrive back at C.

C to D , D to E , E to F , F to G , G to A , A to B , B to C (whole) (whole) (half) (whole) (whole) (whole) (half)

Remember the natural half steps are B to C, and E to F.

Step 2: Follow the same formula starting with C and write the notes down the left side of the page.

Step 3: Fill in the rest? Your end result should look like this.

C Major Grid

You've just created the C Major Scale. But what does that have to do with creating a chord?

A guitar chord triad is made up of the root note, it's third and fifth or to simplify- 1, 3, 5

So to create a C chord, your root note is C, your third is E and your fifth is G. These are the notes that make up your C chord.

You get a C power chord when you play only C and G, or the 1 and 5.

Here's how to play the C chord- notes C, E and G all the way down the neck.


C chord diagram




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Major and Minor

C, F, and G are Major(M) triads in this grid. D, E, and A are minor(m). The B triad of this grid is diminished(d).

The formula of Major and minor chords in this grid is M, m, m, M, M, m, d

The formula of whole and half steps is again

W, W, H, W, W, W, H




*Major- Has 2 whole steps between the root note and the 3rd, and 1 1/2 steps between the 3rd and 5th.

*minor- Has 1 1/2 steps between the root note and the 3rd, and 2 steps between the 3rd and 5th.

Know this and you can figure out the notes to any triad.




Major chords have a warm, happy sound to them. Minor chords have a darker, sad feeling. Diminished chords just sound strange. Pick up your guitar and play C Major and minor and you will know what I'm talking about.

To make a Major chord into a minor chord, just replace the 3 note with a flat 3. Flat means the note is a half step lower in pitch. So then to make a minor chord Major, you move the flat 3 up a half step.

b = note is flat

# = note is sharp

Had Enough Triad Theory?