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In this guitar lesson we are going to be looking at what a root position triad is and how to use them in your playing. For our example we will be in the key of A major, so let’s review the A major scale. A B C# D E F# and G# are the notes in an A major scale. The chords we will be using are the 1, 4, and 5 chords in the key of A major. Those chords would be A, D, and E.
If you are playing jazz, reggae, or something with a keyboard player, you might not want to use regular bar chords on the guitar. Typical bar chords have a lot of notes in them and they can tend to muddy up the sound of the band. If you use triad chords it can help to clear the sound up and give a keyboard or bass player a bit of room to play around.
Root position triads are what we will be looking at in this lesson. When we talk about root position chords that just means that the root of the chord is the lowest note that we will be playing. For instance in a root position A major triad, the A note will be the lowest note in the chord. A major triad is simply a three-note chord built with a root, 3rd, and 5th of . For example, look at the A major scale above. Start on the A note as the root and pick out the 3rd and 5th notes of the scale to build an A major triad. You should have picked out A, C# and E. Do the same thing for the D and E chords. A D major triad would be spelled D, F#, A and an E major triad would be spelled E, G#, B.
Now let’s take a look at the shapes we will be using for our root position A, D, and E triads. Start with the A root position triad. Put your 3rd finger on an A note on the 7th fret of the 4th string. That is the root of the triad. Grab the C# with your 2nd finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd string. That is the 3 of the triad. Add an E note with your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the 2nd string. That is the 5 of the triad. Play just those three notes.
Follow the same idea for the D and E chords. Place your 3rd finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd string, your 4th finger on the 7th fret of the 2nd string and your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the 1st string. Those notes are the 1, 3 and 5 of a root position D major triad.
Slide that shape up to where your 3rd and 4th fingers are on the 9th fret of the 3rd and 2nd strings. Your 1st finger should be on the 7th fret of the 1st string. This is your root position E major triad.
Practice these chords, get the shapes down and use them if you think the other chords that you are playing sound a bit too thick or muddy.