The Free Guitar Toolbox »

How Major Chords Are Made

Guitar Theory, Ear Training, & Reading

View Category

In this theory guitar lesson, we're going to take a look at how major chords are made. Most music is made up of major and minor chords, so it's important to understand the differences between them and how they're made. Knowing chord theory is great for learning how to write your own songs, or just to better understand the song you're playing.

Before jumping into this lesson you'll need to have a good understanding of the basic fundamentals of music theory. You can learn more here: The 4 Music Theory Fundamentals

The Major Scale Method

The first method for building a major chord is the major scale method. Start off by spelling out your major scale for the chord you want to build. Once you've spelled out the scale, you can just select the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes to create the corresponding chord of the same name.

G Major: To use this method to make a G major chord, you start off by spelling out the G major scale. The 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes are the notes that make up a G major chord.

G Major

D Major: We can do the same for the D major chord. The 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes in the D major scale make up a D major chord.

D Major

F Major: Finally, we'll use this method to find the notes in an F major chord.

F Major

The Stacking Thirds Method

Stacking thirds is another common way to build chords. To do this, you'll need to know the difference between a major third and a minor third.

Major Third: A major third is the distance of 4 half-steps.

Minor Third: A minor third is the distance of 3 half-steps.

To stack thirds, you start with the root note of the chord you want to make. Then add the note that's a major third above it, then add the note that's minor third above the second note. These three notes make up a major chord.

G Major: Start with a G note. A major third from that is a B. And a minor third above that is a D.

G Major

D Major: Start with a D note. A major third from that is an F#. And a minor third from the F# is an A.

D Major

F Major: Start with an F note. A major third up from that is an A. And a minor third from that is a C.

F Major

Music theory can be tough to grasp at first, but if you're patient and spend a little time working on it every day you'll get the hang of it. You may need to go over this lesson a few times, and that's perfectly okay. Try incorporating chord theory into your everyday practice routine.