Vintage Club 6 with Richard | Triads


Hello everyone.

The preview document for the coming Vintage Club #6 on Monday 29 January is ready to share. Fanny will distribute via the usual channels. There was some feedback after the last session from people who wanted it earlier so I am also sharing here at the first opportunity.

Over several future sessions, we are going to be using triads in a variety of ways in several keys. For this introduction and beyond, students will benefit from knowing the general shapes of the three major and three minor triads on the G, B & E strings.

We will start with a narrow focus on the C, F and G major triads (think of the I, IV and V chords in the key of C). If you have time, try to become familiar with these specific triads prior to the session. Notice that these are the same three shapes as the general major triads shown above, but their location on the fretboard is fixed to make these specific triads.

If you know nothing about triads then have a look, have a go at forming these 3-note shapes on the G, B & E strings and you should then be primed and ready to get stuck in. See you there. :slight_smile:


Seems, I know what I will be doing this eve. Thanks, Richard :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi @Richard_close2u , what do the labels “Root”, “3rd”, “5th” on the 1st diagram refer to? Well, I guess that is the relevant interval for the note on the 3rd string. I guess I’m wondering why the note on the 3rd string is used to as a label?

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Every triad contains a root note plus two other notes, the 3rd and the 5th. For minor triads the 3rd is a flat 3 but we still can say out loud ‘3rd’ and it has all the meaning we need in context of discussing minors.

The order always follows in strict rotation. Root is followed by 3rd is followed by 5th is followed by root is followed by 3rd etc. No matter the starting point, the order is the same. When I write ‘order’ I mean the pitch of the notes ascending - think of going around the note circle clockwise.

The shapes I have shown do not really have fixed names that people conventionally use. They do frequently get referred to by their properties derived from the internal order of the intervals. When the root note is the lowest, a triad is in ‘root position’. When the 3rd is lowest, a triad is ‘first inversion’. When the 5th is lowest, a triad is ‘second inversion’.

People also sometimes describe them using the CAGED system and each can be viewed as a fragment of a fuller CAGED shape barre chord. The shape I have labelled Root is a fragment of an A-shape chord. The shape I have labelled 3rd is a fragment of an E-shape chord. The shape I have labelled 5th is a fragment of a C-shape chord. Many people describe that last one as being from a D-shape chord (which is also simultaneously true) but I prefer to view it as coming from a C-shape.

I am trying to negate the need for all of this theoretical understanding, all of this prior learning and knowledge, and simply give them a name we can all use and understand at the outset. I also hope it will be useful in the longer term.

I did not want to name them shapes 1, 2 and 3 because the logic does not follow. Shape 1 could be the shape with the root note lowest. Shape 3 could be the shape with the 3rd lowest. But shape 2?

Additionally, when we eventually move to a different set of three strings (D, G & B strings for example), the shapes change and we need to learn three new shapes for both major and minor respectively. They could not reasonably be called shapes 1, 2 & 3 because they are different shapes. They could be called Root, 3rd and 5th and the logic and sense of following the same naming structure remains intact.

If some or all of that is too much information then please do not get bogged down in it. Simply accept the naming I have used, know that other ways of describing them exist and move on to actually playing them and getting your fingers used to forming the shapes.



Ah, ok. I have usually heard those shapes referred to as root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion. I like your names better, though, because I can never remember if 1st inversion means 3rd or 5th as the lowest note :slight_smile:

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What I know about triads you could write on the back of a stamp, but assume that these are just essentially chords with 3 notes. So like a lot of the opens chords. Is that right?

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Yes they are 3 notes of the open chord shapes which make them movable along the neck just like barre chords are made up of the shapes of open chords.
This is how the CAGED system works. Every chord open, barre or triad and scale/mode relates back to the 5 open chord shapes.
Richard mentions this in his post. The 3 triad shapes come from the A, E and C shaped barre chords.

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Hi Richard. I have been working on learning triads already, and find it difficult to fret those with a mini-bar and one adjacent note (F and G for example) with my first and middle finger without muting the second string. I can comfortable do these chords with my first and ring finger. Is there anything wrong with doing it this way?

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In which situation @stitch would you however choose to play triads rather than Barre chords for example? It’s a question of quality of tone and sound surely… But are there certain situations when triads simply sound better than Barre chords…meaning - are they better suited for certain songs or is it simply a matter of taste and choice?


They sound great if you arpeggiate them, think of something like brown eyed girl.

Also if you are playing with a 2nd guitarist who is playing open chords triads in a different part of the neck to the open chords sounds great.


@JokuMuu Nicole this thread was started by Richard for his next class and I don’t know what he has planned and don’t want to hijack his lesson. So for now just think of triads as another tool in your guitar tool box.


I didn’t understand this, and I’m not sure I understand Richard’s explanation either.

I think he means “The Root/3rd/5th is the lowest (in pitch) note in the triad”


@Richard_close2u , can you confirm…or more likely, correct my understanding?

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I perfectly understand, thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

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This needs a qualifying statement.
There are ‘open triads’ which span across non-adjacent string sets and the order can be different within those. I will not be looking at open triads.

Yes. Stitch has offered some extra info here too.
Open position major and minor chords all have only 3 notes. Period. Some of those occur more than once as the chords cover more than 3 strings.

Not wrong as such, and especially not if all you want is to play the triad and nothing else. You will be limiting what else you can do whilst holding the triad - for example add embellishments with 3rd and 4th finger. Which is something I hope to cover in future club sessions.

I hope to explore this in the session. Barre chords and triads can almost be seen as serving two slightly different roles and therefore can be employed for different purposes. @Gregba gives a couple of examples.

I can confirm. I chose not to have the intervals written inside the dots. When I did it looked like information overload and could cause early and unnecessary confusion which I hope to explain away in the session.

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Justin has a whole Module on triad chords:


@Richard_close2u I just got a chance to try all six of the triad shapes you listed…and it feels like a lot!

I belatedly realized that the “5th is the lowest note” shapes are D and Dm, but the other 4 are not familiar, and I probably won’t have time to develop any agility with these shapes before the Club meeting.

So my question is - which shapes are you going to focus on first in the lesson? I’ll make sure I practice those, at least.

On the plus side, I do know the movable single string major scale pattern.

So I was able to fairly easily find the I IV V major chords with roots on the B string, using the 5th triad shape. Then I quickly found the ii iii iv minor chords as well

My ear told me that it was good…and that was quite gratifying!

Finally, I wanted to say that I really appreciate your “video plus written materials approach”. It works much better than just video, or just paper - at least for me.

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Can you play an A shaped barre chord and an E shaped barre chord? If so take a good look at the G,B,e strings, playing both Major and minor chord shapes.
If you can’t play these barre chords this lesson is not for you.

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That’s a good way in to seeing how the various shapes relate to each other

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Good question Tom.

See this above:

I am over planning just in case everyone is ready to do more …
But …
The main focus in the coming session is going to be the three MAJOR triad shapes. If time allows, minors.
I aim to give lots of play time using the majors. Concentrate on making those as good as you can for Monday.

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