The Best Way to Visualise Triads on Guitar

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Are you learning how to visualise triads on guitar, but struggling to see how they fit together across the fretboard? Let me show you the easiest way to visualise triads across the guitar neck!

Just like most of us, I first learned triads from a YouTube video. The teacher even provided accompanying PDF diagrams! For weeks thereafter I practiced them up and down the neck, hoping that eventually I would retain the muscle memory to recall all of the triads with ease. However this goal proved to be unobtainable, as it was too difficult to memorise much more than 10% of the shapes 😓

Years later however, I discovered a much easier method that I use to visualising triads (and, well – everything!) across the guitar neck: The CAGED System.

The CAGED System

If you are unfamiliar with The CAGED System, it consists of five positions or chord shapes that are movable positions across the guitar neck. These positions are based on simple open chords:

C, A, G, E, and D.

Let’s begin exploring what a D chord looks like by identifying the five CAGED positions on the neck. Take note of how each position fits together like a jigsaw puzzle, and pay close attention to the root notes within each shape:

How To Visualise Triads

Now here’s the trick. Instead of memorising every individual triad position as its own, it’s far easier to think of them as subsets of their parent CAGED position!

For example, if you focus on just the bottom 3 strings, whilst keeping the parent shapes from above in mind, these are the note groupings you would practice:

Then once you can visualise these clearly, respective of their parent CAGED position, you can move on to do the same for every other string set!


Everything I’ve covered in this writeup is relative to the key of D major. In the attached video I also go through examples in C major.

If you want a more comprehensive understanding of The CAGED System including how to practice triads in every key, including minor keys, then take a look at my CAGED Fretboard Visualisation Masterclass! The methods I teach in this course have revolutionised my outlook of the guitar 🤯

By utilising The CAGED System properly, you’ll be able to effortlessly and quickly recall triads during your practice within no time!

Darryl Syms has been teaching guitar for more than 15 years, and in that time has helped thousands of students across the world excel on guitar.

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