Guitar lessons often focus on teaching triads, but it’s equally as important to know how to practice triads on guitar. Memorising triad shapes is just the beginning, but in this lesson we’ll build on a simple practice idea that you can incorporate in your daily routine.
This lesson assumes you’re already at least moderately familiar with how to visualise triads on guitar. If this is not something you’re yet confident with, I recommend enrolling in my CAGED Fretboard Visualisation Masterclass for a complete insight into how to visualise the guitar.
Let’s begin working through the steps!
#1: Determine The Chords & Key
Let’s start by selecting two major triads within a specific key. For example, we’ll choose the key of B and the B major triad as our starting point. To create a musical progression, we can select the B major and E major triads – the I and IV chords.
#2: Playing with a Steady Tempo
Set a steady tempo that works for you and play a B major triad on every quarter beat. Maintain this pace for four bars.
TOP TIP: If you find that you’re better at visualising triads vertically on guitar, and not so much horizontally, try to loop one or two triads for a few beats whilst you allow yourself to think and work out a different position of the neck. Once you can visualise triads in your target position of the neck, then take the leap! Horizontal movement can be slow to begin with, but in time when your ability to visualise the guitar strengthens, you’ll become much faster.
Now after 4 bars of E major, move on to to the next chord (B major) for the next 4 bars and play B major triads on every quarter beat.
Rinse & repeat!
#3: Adding Chords & Increasing Difficulty
To add complexity, we can add chords to the progression. To allow yourself to focus on major triads, adding a V chord to the progression would be the smartest decision.
For now, don’t add any other triad types to your progression such as minor triads. We’ll come back to that later once you can be sure you master the major triads.
You may also decide to speed up the progression if you find it to be too easy or slow. Instead of playing 4 bars of each chord, you could play just two bars. If you’re feeling confident with your rhythm, then perhaps you can introduce some eighth notes instead, or off-beat rhythms.
Just don’t run before you can walk!
#4: Minor Triad Variation
Now that you’ve got a good grasp of how major triads look and feel across the neck, it’s time to regress back to step #1 again but now with minor triads. Begin with a i iv progression, Bm to Em.
The goal is to focus on one type of triad during a practice session to maintain clarity and progress.
#5: Putting It All Together
After you’ve become confident with both major and minor triads across the neck, it’s time to blend them together! If you’ve done sufficient preparation, this shouldn’t be too difficult to improvise your way through.
Major and minor triads are the most important triad types to familiarise yourself with. Down the road, you can begin to expand your chord vocabulary with diminished, suspended, and even augmented triads. I would advise that you stick with major and minor for a long while though, as these are the most practical and useful.
Embrace the learning process and enjoy the journey 💜
If you want to deep dive further and not only learn other ways on how to practice triads effectively, but also how to apply them in your music and improvisation, you absolutely don’t want to miss out on my All About Triads Masterclass here on Fretwise! 😉