More Triad Grips (Strings 2-4, 3-5, 4-6)

If you can have some fun with the Triads grips you already know, explore these ones too!

View the full lesson at More Triad Grips (Strings 2-4, 3-5, 4-6) | JustinGuitar

The download file for the Minor Triads (345)shows grip one keeping the 3rd in the same spot (even though it says 3b) and moves the root and 5th note up 1 semitone. Is this an error on the page or am I missing something? I would think moving up the root and 5th would change the chord completely. For example, if it’s a G chord then moving the root and 5th up a semitone would turn it into a G#min. Correct?

Its moving the 3rd down one semitone to flatten it.
Making a minor or b3rd.
The root and 5th stay in the same spot.

Yes, that’s what should happen to the Triad. It’s not what the files in the resources show. Look at the (345) major triad grip one, then look at the (345) minor triad grip one. In major triad one grip, it shows Fmaj triad (F root, A 3rd, and C5th) with an E shape triad. Then, when you look at the minor grip one, the 3rd does not flatten. It stays on the A, while the root move up to the 4th fret of the 3rd string (F#), and the 5th moves up to the 4th fret of the 2nd string (C#). That would become a F# minor triad would it not? (I erroneously called it a G# minor triad in my previous post).

Hi Taylor,

Sorry to contradict you, but the diagrams are correct. What’s creating confusion on your part and could probably be highlighted on the diagrams is that the position (fret number) is not fixed. These are general major/minor triad diagrams that are movable since neither of the strings are played open.

The complete fretboard diagrams at the bottom of the page are probably less ambiguous in this regard.



As you can see, in the case of the minor triad grip, the 3rd is one fret “further down” from the other two notes, meaning that it is indeed flattened by a semitone.

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@Jozsef has it exactly right. The neck positions are not fixed so the triads are non-specific shapes that can be played anywhere on the neck and the resulting name depends on where it is played.

Thank you both for clearing that up, it answers my question. It was confusing because I was comparing the minor to the major on both documents and seeing the root note change frets. Knowing now that the diagrams are just there to show the triad forms and not for direct comparison of particular major/minor chords helps exponentially. Thanks again, cheers.

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The Major Triads 345 PDF has a minor error with the diagram for Grip 3 - the diagram lists finger 1 as playing all three notes, when obviously you would use finger 3 on the 5th string and finger 1 to bar across strings 3 and 4.

Hello @Timobkg and welcome to the community.
This is the error:

Thanks for the alert. I will report this.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher

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Hi there
Triads 123 have Grip1 on the first, Grip2 on the second, Grip3 on the 3rd string of that set of strings.
Triads 234, 345, 456 do not follow that pattern.
I do not find the parallels in Grip1, 2 and 3 concerning the different set of strings, if there are any.
Sorry for my english and thanks for your help

These triad shapes provide a rich food for thought/source for practice, it’s really worth revisiting them from time to time.

I’ve just been tinkering with two string 2 root E major triads separately and combined. The combined fingering would be xx6454. Then it occurred to me if I fretted string 5 at fret 4, I will get a C#m7 chord (A shape barre grip, x46454). Or will I? What I mean is that this C#m7 can be interpreted as E/C#, too. Is this assumption correct? Would there be a context where calling this chord E/C# would be more convenient than C#m7?

Regardless, tinkering with these triad shapes is very entertaining.

They certainly are a rich food. I’ve made them a central part of my practice for several months now on a daily basis. I’ve found not only are they great to use, but moreso they have been, and continue to be, significant teaching tools regarding learning and really opening up the fretboard, learning arpeggios, chord tones, barre chords/variations, making up melodies, the scale- chord relationship etc. The flow on effect is enormous. They are invaluable I believe.

Cheers, Shane


I just noticed papa smurf standing on the Marshall amp :wink:

I think I made a discovery (in the sense that it’s new to me) while practicing these triads.
I am attempting to put it into words to check my own understanding:

For any of these triads, I can turn a major triad into its relative minor triad by moving the major 5 note up one whole step.

Does this make sense? And is it correct?


Yes a major 6 triad is the same as the relative minor triad. For example a C6 triad is C E A and a Am triad is A C E. The 6th note of a major chord is the root of the relative minor. The 3rd of the major is the 5th of the minor and the root is the flat 3rd.


All relative major / minor triads have two notes in common.

C major = C, E, G
A minor = A, C, E

D major = D, F#, A
B minor = B, D, F#

G major = G, B, D
E minor = E, G, B

The note that is ‘different’ (if thinking of the major triad as the starting point) is the 5th of the major triad.

For C major to become A minor, the 5th note (G) must be changed to a note a tone higher (A).

For D major to become B minor, the 5th note (A) must be changed to a note a tone higher (B).

For G major to become E minor, the 5th note (D) must be changed to a note a tone higher (E).

Notice that the 5th transforms to become the root note of the relative minor.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher


Hi Richard,
I was practicing triad grips on strings 1, 2 & 3 today. I was playing a 1-6-4-5 progression in the key of G (G Em C D). I noticed when going from Em using grip 2 to C using grip 3, I only had to move the finger on the G string up a fret to make the chord change.

That got me thinking and I “discovered” that if you flatten the root of a major triad you get a minor triad whose root note is the third of the major you started with. For example, flatten the root of a C major and you get an Em. F becomes Am.

These major/minor pairs also have two notes in common. So are these minor triads a different type of relative minor? Or is my “discovery” purely academic and useless in the real world?

The attached table shows the major vs relative minor relationship you mentioned on the right hand side, and the major/minor relationship I “discovered” on the left hand side.


Oh yes, wow, I love it. Making these sorts of discoveries all by yourself is fantastic and so satisfying. I love how you took the germ of an idea and extended it also. You will find that from one starting position you can make three triads by altering just one note. And this does allow you to play, for example a I, vi, IV, V prgreession, with virtually no lateral movement along the neck.

If you like that you may like this too. I took your key of A major, and what a good choice it was. I started at the lowest possible triad position for the tonic triad of A major. then, by raising just one note of successive triads (the 3rd or the 5th) could map out the entire set of diatonic chords along the neck. They do not follow the sequential diatonic order of I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii. They do make their own sequence which eventually repeats. The sequence repeats in the triads and, eventually, when you reach far enough along the neck to return to the starting triad shape, the sequence repeats in the shapes too.

You may want to download the image to read it more clearly.

Try this yourself in different keys starting from different triad shapes.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide, Approved Teacher & Moderator


Thanks, that’s good to know!

Great. I’ve been practicing triad grips using two methods. One is aiming for minimum movement of the fretting hand. The other is to try and move my hand as much as possible between each chord while changing the chord grip. The former targets efficiency, and I guess is the method I will eventually settle on when playing. The latter is good for ‘breaking out of the box’ and moving to another part of the neck.

I’ve printed it out and will have a closer look at it tonight. Thanks for going to all that trouble.

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Hi Richard

Getting back into random playing at the moment and your diagrams provided a pleasant meander up the fretboard. A bit a la Chuck, with no particular place to go. Then as usual the cogs started whirring and I tried replicating your one note method across D G B and quickly gave up.

Intrigued, this morning I went back this time visited A D G and found I good locate the diatonic A Major triads by moving a single note (again note in the I ii iii IV V vi viio order)
Not as neat as the above diagram so a explainer was added.

Given that the A D G “shapes” are transferable to E A D logic tells me, that the “move one note” process would work their - without the need to map it all out.

Am I right in my assumption that this “trick” cannot be applied to triads on D G B or am I missing something ?