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Basics of the Seven Triads of the Major Scale on the Guitar

After you understand how to build triads on the guitar, you can continue to build on each degree in the G major scale. Here’s what the completed scale looks like in triads:

  • G: G-B-D, G major

  • A: A-C-E, A minor

  • B: B-D-Fs, B minor

  • C: C-E-G, C major

  • D: D-Fs-A, D major

  • E: E-B-G, E minor

  • Fs: Fs-A-B, Fsminorf5 (also called a diminished triad)

Here is how to play through all seven major triads in three different ways. The first four measures put each interval on a separate string. The next four measures put the 3rd and 5th on the same string. The last four measures put the root and 3rd on the same string.

Remember that the triad notes are exactly the same in all three examples; each version just uses some notes in a different location.

[Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna]
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

Playing triads one note at a time is often done in riffs and bass lines. Guitar riff examples include

“Centerfield” by John Fogerty
“Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix
“Tightrope” by Stevie Ray Vaughan

Bass examples include

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” by The Beatles
“Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley
“Stir It Up” by Bob Marley and the Wailers
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