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Fretboard Workshop: Why Triads are Essential

Fretboard Workshop: Why Triads are Essential

Now let’s skip past the 1st inversion and try 2nd-inversion fingerings. I prefer to do the 2nd inversion next because as we are visualizing roots, it seems more natural to advance them to the next string. Check out the chords between frets 5–9 in Fig. 6 and then try Fig. 7. Remember to think about the root notes on the 2nd string while playing through the changes.

Finally, here are the 1st-inversion chords in Fig. 8. The root is located on the 1st string, which is a lot easier to visualize if you’re already familiar with the notes on the 6th string or low E. Also, I added the C# (Db), which steps out of our five-fret span, but was the only chord missing from the chromatic 12.

Once you have played through the chords, try out Fig. 9 at a reasonably slow tempo.

Now for the final exam on this area of the neck. You will have to use all three fingerings to play within our span. Fig. 10 begins with whole-notes, so you have some time to think. We move to half-notes in Fig. 11 and by Fig. 12, you’ll have no time to think. Good luck!

So, how’d we do? Hopefully you are feeling more confident about using triads because you know where they are. Remember, you can apply these same chord shapes anywhere on the neck. Once you have worked through the examples in this lesson, move on to another region and start the process over again. Stay tuned for more to come on this topic. We’ve only scratched the surface.

Alex Nolan
Alex Nolan is a NYC-based guitarist, songwriter, and instructor who specializes in rock, R&B, country, and Brazilian jazz. Having served on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop and holding a degree from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Nolan has performed as a lead guitarist with various artists including Jill Sobule, Joan As Policewoman, Toshi Reagon, Marcus Hummon, Katie Armiger, Sophia Ramos, and Amanda Ruzza. For more information, please visit
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