This gives you alternate ways of playing the Basic Triads. Simplifying, raising or lowering the pitch, changing the texture, useful for picking and fingerstyle.

From Chord Construction, we know the formula for a Major Triad is 1 – 3 – 5.

Therefore, C Major is C – E – G

If we map out all the Cs, Es, and Gs on the fretboard we have.

fretboard C-E-G

You should see some familiar patterns from Bar Chords (CAGED).

fretboard C-E-G C-form G-form

fretboard C-E-G A-form E-form

fretboard C-E-G D-form

However, you don’t have to play all the notes in a bar chord, and the order of the notes is flexible as well. Work with these 3 string patterns. Use them as a basis for your next song. Notice they come from the CAGED bar chord forms above, just taken 3 strings at a time.

fretboard C-E-G 1-2-3

fretboard C-E-G 2-3-4

fretboard C-E-G 3-4-5

fretboard C-E-G 4-5-6

What about a minor Triad?        1 - b3 - 5   ( Each E becomes Eb )

What about a Sus4 Triad?         1 - 4 - 5    ( 3rd is suspended, 4th is played instead )

What about a Sus2 Triad?         1 - 2 - 5    ( 3rd is suspended, 2nd is played instead )

What about a diminished Triad?   1 - b3 - b5  ( think minor b5 )

What about an Augmented Triad?   1 - 3 - #5   ( think Major #5 )

Thinking about the notes you’re playing and being able to form these chords on the fly is a lot more useful than memorizing chord charts.

Note: While we did these in C, the forms hold for any chord, just like moveable bar chords. Try some other roots, like G, D, A, E

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